Cinematography Mailing List - CML

X-Files Type Flashlight Effect

(original title: “X-Flies Type Flashlight Effect”)


I wanted to know what some of you folks have gotten the best "Flashlight" effects with. You know, X-files type, ET type. Strong beam, nice hard shaft... (Please no "Hard Shaft" jokes) The Flashlights have to look, more like a black Maglite/cop light and less like a movie light.

More over, not just how wonderfully bright but also, easy of recharge or good battery life. Etc... Also anything else you might want to school me on, go right ahead.

Maurice Jordan
Los Angeles

Many of those effect flashlights are designed for the purpose and are fitted with lamps more akin to pinspots, so for a Maglite application I think I'd consider adapting a standard Maglite to take a standard 12V MR16 projector or plain narrow beam lamp. OK, this means that a concealed battery pack would be required, but you don't get high power light without a high power supply.

If this is a video application, then maybe an ordinary Maglite and controlled use of haze will be acceptable. The sensitivity of the modern cameras takes me by surprise sometimes.

A good example being a recent BBC production (Intergalactic Kitchen) where I built most of the electronic FX panels for the space ships console and for the costumes and props. The LEDs in these were so bright that they actually used them for visual effect by positioning the units to illuminate the actors faces while they were interacting with the CGI generated consoles.

Clive Mitchell

Clive Mitchell wrote :

>>More over, not just how wonderfully bright but also, easy of recharge or >good battery life. Etc... Also anything else you light want to school me >on, go right ahead.

You might try the LED replacement bulbs for Mag lites. I got one for my mini Maglite and it is BRIGHT though it won't give you the sculpted shaft of light. Put some haze in the air and one of these LED bulbs will give you quite a bit of light from a flashlight and it will last for all kinds of hours on a set of batteries.

Mark Smith

Well, I've never seen "X-Flies", but I heard that on X-Files they just used either Scorpion or SureFire 9P xenon lights.

The SUCK the batteries fast, but they sure is bright!

Roderick Stevens
Az. D.P. (and Sundancer)

I remember that Magic Gadgets had a specially modified Cop-style Maglite flashlight that was at Showbiz Expo a couple of years ago that was designed for those purposes- I think that it had an MR-16 lamp in it and the batteries were somehow modified and was totally self contained.

I'm not sure if it ever went into production (may have been a prototype) but it is something you could make yourself as Clive mentioned. Also you can check around with the various rental shops in town- I know that you can rent big X-file style Xenon flashlights that come with several batteries and a charger for a full-day of operation.

They are a bit pricey, though.

Toby Birney
L.A., CA and Vilnius, Lithuania

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