Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Moving Car Lighting Effect

I'm shooting a spot with a girl on a motorbike against back screen projection showing plates of travelling through London at night. I'd like to try to have some light effects to create the impression she's in situ.

I am considering using a mirrored wheel, and possibly some vari-lites, to give the lighting some movement.

Any other suggestions will be most welcome.


Dan Bronks

I shot a similar effect matching detail shots of a black car driving through Chinatown at night and it cut in seamlessly with the principal location photography. On a second dolly, we built a large, long rig with fixtures covered with various party gels and pushed that through to bounce into the car.

As I recall, we also used some black foam core with long slots cut in to simulate the pattern of neon signs.

I think this is better than something with a more repetitive pattern. By the way, the original was shot with 35 MM and we shot the cut in material with a VariCam.

We did have to add some grain to perfect the match.

Good shooting!

Leo Ticheli

I shot in a train coach two years ago. (The train was still of course)

My solution was to set lots of polystyrene foam at about 1 metre out of the windows - and around 70 cm higher. Then I placed two martin Mac 2000 (but any 1200W moving light would do the job) and make the lights move around of the polys. The light came beautiful through the windows like if the train was passing through light columns in the night.

Light was enough for T2.8 @ 400 ISO for the length of a couch. During shooting it looked repetitive but after one would have guessed.

Also :

It is very easy to control yourself via hogPC and their little adapter box. That applies in low budget works where a console and operator might prove expensive - provided you already have some experience with this kind of stuff. Hog PC is for free, the box is very cheap by itself (around 2000 Euros) so it cannot rent for too much.

Best Regards

Argyris Theos
Athens Greece

>My solution was to set lots of polystyrene foam at about 1 metre out of >the windows - and around 70 cm higher.

I love this effect. I believe "Night on Earth" employed a similar approach.

Art Adams, DP [film|hidef|video]
Mountain View, California
San Francisco Bay Area - "Silicon Valley"


One thing I always used to use for this kind of shot is a small unit mounted on the end of a C-stand arm, and then swung over the windscreen from front to back, by an electrician who you trust, or has a bit of an artistic eye, to give the impression of the passing street lamps reflected in the glass. They have to twist the lamp 180 degrees so it doesn't reflect on the way start to the front of the pass again. If your motorcycle has a screen this could work, or maybe it could work on the helmet visor.

I've tried various lamps from 650W Fresnels with the doors mostly closed to Mini Flos, which work better for the guy swinging it on the arm. Less complaints about the weight. I shot 2nd unit on a TV show a few years back where I did all the car stuff, mostly poor man's process. This went on for several months, so we got to experiment quite a bit with rigs like this, (within our limited budget of course). Gel to give a sodium effect reflection, whatever your personal preference is. Lots of blackwrap.

Given a larger budget and the time, you could build some kind of overhead rotating wheel for this.

Maybe even keeping the lamp on the ground, well boxed in, shining up at a rotating overhead reflector of some kind. Getting ahead of myself here. Haven't even finished the first coffee this morning

Larry Manly

Read the ASC magazine article about "21 grams" - they did the same kind of thing.


Rolfe Klement

>Read the ASC magazine article about "21 grams" - they did the same >kind of thing

Also I recall the AC mag had an article on "The Game" by Harris Savides which had some very nice night car work as well.

Jim Sofranko

Slightly off the point but the work Harris did on "elephant" including the hood mount stuff on the car - (when the dad is drunk) and his work on "birth" (I think Garrett was on a steadicam on a vehicle tracking the jogger) - and his article of camera movement with Gus Van Sant are really good reading or viewing - and a return to motivated camera helping narrative.


Rolfe Klement

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