Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Fire FX’s


I'm looking for some lighting fire FX’s. I've used orange lights bounced into Mylar and strips of black wrap dangled in front of a light. Anything else?

Andy Cook

Every shoot I'm on that requires a fire gag or a tv gag I try to do something different.

I've done each of these with varying degrees of success.

1/ - Standard fluorescent lights on dimmers. Since they don't react well to
dimming, they tend to flicker. Works better for tv gag than fire gag.

2/ - Light bounced into a pan of water with orange food colouring in it. You
need plenty of space to get the angle right for this, but I like the effect.

3/ - Light shot through a piece of glass with a stream of water running down it. As long as the light is close enough to the gag itself, the pattern is softened enough that it doesn't look like water running down glass. It just varies the lighting in an interesting way.

4/ - Light shot through an actual FIRE. Of course generally only of use when outside and you need a pretty powerful source. I used a 5k through a campfire and it looked GREAT!

5/ - O.k., I haven't done it yet. But I'm currently taking a 2' x 2.5' wood panel with 16 porcelains mounted on it and putting 8 separate dimmers and switches on it so that I can have one or two people work them manually. I think I'll put a mix of standard 150-250w floods and even a few "red" floods on it. We'll see.

O.k., good luck and have FUN!

Roderick Stevens
Az. D.P.

Dear Andy,

A scene I shot was a night scene with a two knights at a campfire in a forest (campfire in shot).

I hooked up 3 650w Juniors to separate dimmers, gelled them with various steps of CTO (1/2, 1, 1 1/2). And had 3 "sensitive" people dim randomly up and down in the low area of the dimmer from 0 to max. correct exposure.

Make sure the people on the dimmers are not clumsy and oversteer...or it will look like crap!!! :)

If you can get that right you will get a great result and a very convincing campfire effect.

Best Wishes

Daniel Loher
Director of Photography
Munich based

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