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Dream Sequence With Twinkling Lights

Published : 8th November 2004

Hey all... I wanted a bit of help...

Working on a gig with a dream sequence that will be shot in B&W on 80 ASA and since it is anamorphic, I need a good beefy stop about a 5.6...

So what I am looking for is twinkling lights in the back ground, like stars, which turn on and off in a random pattern... What I thought might work is, at Cinegear, I saw these LED bulbs and I don't know enough about them yet but I think they have a Christmas light string setup that can be used, maybe on a 4x8 piece of foam core. I assume that with a star filter and maybe a ProMist might give them what they need.

If you have any ideas, please share... Thanks

Maurice Jordan
Gaffer
West Hollywood, CA


>So what I am looking for is twinkling lights in the back ground, like stars, >which turn on and off in a random pattern...

I'm sure there's a million ways to do this, but here's what I did on a similar situation when I needed twinkling city lights in a BG shot in a window of an studio built apartment set.

Three strings of white Xmas lights on stands. Varied angle, height and distance to the camera. I sporadically stuck ND and colour gel swatches on the bulbs to add more variation. All lights on dimmers, farthest from camera were lowest intensity. Three grips in black (what else) stood amongst strings of lights and randomly waved brute sized nets. Looked great. The ultimate give away is any sway in the Xmas lights or recognizable silhouettes of grips .

I was shooting 35mm with high speed primes pretty much wide open with a little haze as well, so the effect was quite dreamy without any filters. In fact the art director was a little choked we didn't actually have to use his city scape backdrop.

Dave Luxton
Cinematographer
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada


Maurice Jordan writes :

>So what I am looking for is twinkling lights in the back ground, like stars, >which turn on and off in a random pattern...

A standard fibre optic starcloth would accomplish this with aplomb. Alternatively you could get the fibre optic light source with the star wheel, and use a loose polymer loom poked through a foam or thin wood board.

The advantage of the fibre optic approach is that the fibres tend to ramp up and down quite softly.

Clive Mitchell
http://www.bigclive.com


>So what I am looking for is twinkling lights in the back ground, like stars, >which turn on and off in a random pattern...

Something I have done before is use "Grain of Wheat" bulbs-available from model shops. These bulbs are 12V so you have to either wire in series, put them in a transformer, or try it the way I did it, and put them on a vari-ac and be real careful not to over power them. The nice thing about these lights is that they are punchy enough for that slower B&W film stock you are using.

I was able to buy them in lots of 100 from a model shop in Burbank. They also had color dyes for dipping the bulbs in various color--which is nice to have around also.

Michael Ambrose
Gaffer
Los Angeles


>So what I am looking for is twinkling lights in the back ground, like stars, >which turn on and off in a random pattern...

Maurice,

Other than LED Xmas lights there are strips of multi-program Xmas lights (chase, solid, flash, fade in/out, etc). I would look at Michaels or a craft supply store. If you were shooting color, you could use the gels from a sample book to give alternate colors (Straws, ctb, and 1/8 cto work nice for stars. City background lights would be straw, cto, red, and green(stoplights)). I would either back ground the lights with Duvateen or (in studio) let the background fall to black

Since you are using B/W 80 ASA, I would run a test with stills

Matt Efsic
Student - Gaffer
Brooks Institute of Photography


Jumping onto this thread kind of late here, but I needed to do some twinkling lights in the deep BG on a music video and after querying some of the folks on these lists I ended up using a mix of some suggestions.

What I did was take an 8x8 frame (you could obviously adapt this idea to a larger frame, maybe even a 12x20' since you're anamorphic) and string monofilament (fishing line) up and down the frame. From there we hot-glued mirror tiles back-to-back (like what you would find on a disco ball) at random intervals along the monofilament. We then added two large sources next to the frame (pointing at each other at right angles to the camera and flagged to control spill on the foreground), and turned on a mole-fan which blew the tiles which twisted on the monofilament.

It really gave us quite a nice twinkling effect.

Good luck...

Rob Barocci
Director of Photography


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