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Subway Lighting Effect

Published : 11th May 2005

Coming up, I'm to be working on a stage with a three walled set in U-shape. It's supposed to be the interior of a subway car, but probably a quarter to a fifth of the actual length.. as though you were near the end of the car. The "windows" of the subway car will be blue/green screen material, so no lighting through the windows. I would like to create the impression that light from passing tunnel fixtures is moving through the subway car. I've thought about building some motorized metal-doughnut-thingy with a 2k or 5k bulb in the middle of the hole and a section of the metal doughnut/tube cut out... rotate the tube and Bobs your uncle; moving light. It also seems like a lot of work... is there a rig like this already out there?

If not, I gather there is some sort of motorized moving mirror thing you can attach to a Source Four ellipsoidal which might do the trick. Anyone know what that would be named? And if you are familiar with this mirror contraption, does the mirror rotate endlessly in one direction or does it stop and return to the start point (as would a Cyberlight) in which case can one shut the "light" off while it does this.

Or, if anyone knows of any other such thingy which might do the job (aside from a Cyberlight)...

Cheers,

Piotr Jagninski
Gaffer / NYC


I think we have discussed this in the past...

A) there is a moving mirror that attaches in front of most ellipsoidals and profiles in general - including the ETC's. It is made by Rosco. Contact them they will guide you. (I have no affiliation etc....)

B) in order to operate any moving light you need a console to control it. If you are going with tungsten sources you will also need dimmers – dmx controllable. The cheapest way is to go with "HOG PC" and the dedicated interface. It is an emulation of the classic HoleHog II console that is free and you can run it on any laptop. It comes for free, but you buy the interface. If I remember well it costs less than $1000.

C) If you have no experience with moving lights you will need quite sometime to learn the basic programming tricks. I suggest you hire a specialized programmer-operator. If he owns his own console that would be even better, this will assure you he knows all its tricks. Believe me every model has its own tricks. Still I have no affiliation but my small experience has demonstrated that the HoleHogs are the fastest consoles to program.

D) I will disagree with your choice of fixtures. The Source Fours are excellent and they provide a lot of light but their beam is very narrow. On one occasion I had to shoot a stationary train at night. I had the guys rig the train on its outside with polystyrene, set it above the windows, right were they were invisible and no further that 1 meter. Then I set two 1200W moving heads on the train's roof. The heads were programmed to move continuously hitting the polys. They hit the ones at the front right, moved to the ones at rear right, then they moved up (hitting nothing) then front left, go to rear left, up, front right etc.

I was shooting 500ASA at T2.0 - T2.5. The bounce gave me sufficient light to overexpose by one stop, when it hit the actor's faces. This was it's best at the middle of the set (two couches long) and faded a bit towards the end. The good thing is that you can aim each poly separately, for maximum bounce. The very good thing is that the spectator get the feeling of a MOVING SOURCE, not a MOVING BEAM ,and the best thing is that after you have set it up you just let it do it's job and do not bother again. After I set it up I shot for two nights without even thinking about it.

Of course everything is precisely repeatable. Only time and imagination will limit you on the many different effects you may want to do. (e.g. if the train is braking you can slow the effect down)

E) why bother to light with blue/green screen material ON the windows?

Why don't you just place the material outside and light it to the proper stop separately? You will even have the opportunity to light from the outside. e.g. the train gets in the station and everything is brightening.

F) since you will be on a stage sound might be an issue. Most moving heads have fans built in that make lots of noise. There are however models that work without fans. You may need such fixtures.

Have a nice shoot...

Argyris Theos
DoP
Athens Greece


If they mounted the Chromakey panels a modest distance from the windows it would allow easier illumination of the material and also the positioning of external sources from above the Chromakey panel.

If this is just for a short shoot, then a manual beam sweeping technique might be cheaper and easier to implement.

Clive Mitchell
http://www.bigclive.com


Argyris Theos wrote:

>A) there is a moving mirror that attaches in front of most ellipsoidals >and profiles in general - including the ETC's. It is made by Rosco.

Thank you. I will give them a call.

>E) why bother to light with blue/green screen material ON the >windows?

The flats (on which the blue/green screen windows are mounted) are 3-sided... triangular in shape, as seen from above... people stand in the centre of the flats (made of foam core or some such) and periodically lift the flats off the floor and rotate 120 degrees, revealing a new set. When the set rotates, we will see the area outside it, which will be a black void.

class="style6" >F) since you will be on a stage sound might be an issue. Most moving >heads have fans built in that make lots of noise.


We will not be recording sound, so there is no issue there.

Thank you very much for your reply. Sorry if my lack of information led you to give more information than you might have otherwise.

Cheers,

Piotr Jagninski
Gaffer / New York City


Clive Mitchell said:

>If they mounted the Chromakey panels a modest distance from the >windows it would allow easier illumination of the material and also the >positioning of external sources from above the Chromakey panel.

I'm not sure I understand, Clive.

Are you saying the panels should be mounted behind the "windows" or in front? Honestly, I don't quite see how either would work... by chance did you read the message where I said the flats which make up the walls are actually made of foam core, are three sided and will be rotated 120 degrees during the shot by people who are standing in the middle? To envision the three walls I think it helps to visualize a triangle shape when seen from above. Each side of the three-sided walls is a different scene. There will not be much space inside the triangle for more than just a person... trying to add lights inside there seems like a problem waiting to happen, especially seeing how the walls will dance around whilst changing to the next scene.

As for your suggestion of doing simple sweeps with lights, obviously that could be done, but that scene is being shot over a couple/few days and I'd rather spare my crew the boredom/repetitive stress of such a thing. Did I ever tell you the story of how--on a music video-- I once had a Gaffer use me and two other electricians as a "dimmer system" with an on/off gag using a bunch of maxi brutes and rocker-style bull switches? That was just for 45 minutes of continuous takes.

I felt that in my wrists for at least a week.

Cheers,

Piotr Jagninski
Gaffer / New York City


Why don't you just rotate the camera and actors instead of the hole set?

I remember this was the approach on I film years ago on my AC days.
The actor stepped out of his flat in Athens, closed the door, he stepped one step, then he did like if he remembered something and re-opened the door.

Voila: he was on another flat in Paris....

Argyris Theos
DoP
Athens Greece


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