Need lighting to record fire at

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Photon Management
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Old April 21st, 2009, 09:57 AM   #1
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Las Vegas, NV
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Need lighting to record fire

I am looking for advice on how to set up lighting for a scene I need to record. Lets start with the lighting equipment I have available to work with

2 each Mole 1k fresnels (have snoots and barndoors for these)
2 each Mole 200 watt fresnels (have snoots and barndoors for these)
1 each Photogenic mini-spot fresnel
3 each Cool-lux hot lights with softboxes

The set is a 3 sided area 12 foot high walls with 19 feet of width and the side walls are 15 feet long on one side and 12 feet long on the other. I have 26 feet of depth total to use.

The set is a very edgy look. Red and burgundy mabled together in a color wash on the walls with some black shilouettes. We have a lot of junk in the set (ie pallets, scrap metal, old rusty and dented 55 gallon drums, etc. In the middle of this we will have a large table with one model lieing on the table. A second model will be roaming around the set.

I want to have a 55 gallon drum with the top cut out placed on either side of the table and slightly behind. Inside each drum I am planning on using a propane tank and a fire pit ring to create the illusion of a fire in the drum.

My question is what is the best way to light this whole set up so that the fire will show well in the video, Having the background faded a bit darker than the performers is a desireable effect as well. I plan to have the table about 8 feet in front of the back wall.

Any and all advice will be greatly appreciated here. I am shooting this in two weeks and really do not have any experiece capturing fire on video.


Bill Wilson
PK Productions ~ From Mild to Wild Las Vegas, NV
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Old April 21st, 2009, 11:53 AM   #2
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I'm a bit of a noobie so take it w/ a grain of salt, but I did just shoot a candle light dinner that I had to reshoot because the flare was so bad from the candles. I ended up lighting the room very well an then darkening it in post. I underexposed it an F-stop or two to avoid the candle washing out, but then again I was pointing directly at the candle, so you might not have as much of a problem if you're not pointing directly at the fire.
All that I know is that I know nothing at all.
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Old April 21st, 2009, 05:16 PM   #3
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Basically you adjust the aperture until the fire looks the way want and then light the room to that stop. You have to decide the main source(s) in the room eg is the fire or is lights in the room or the light from a window. You use your lights to create the look or mood that you need bearing in mind any action within the scene, still working to that pre-decided stop. Let the light fall off the background by using a lower lighting level created by natural fall off or using less powerful lights or placing lights further way from the background, you'll have to judge this by eye.
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Old April 21st, 2009, 05:59 PM   #4
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: New York, NY
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Besides having some good fire extinguishers on the set remember that Propane flames don't look much like wood burning flames so you might do better with Duraflame logs or with real wood.
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Old April 27th, 2009, 02:35 PM   #5
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To enhance the fire and the shimmering flames you can make a plywood box about 20 inches square and about 10 inches deep, leave one 20x20 inch side open, glue some wrinkled aluminum foil on the inside of the box, mount 9 or 16 lampfittings in a square on the bottom of the box, buy 9 or 16 starters for fluorescent tubes and put each starter in series with a lampfitting. Screw 60 Watts incandescent bulbs in the lampfittings and completely cover the front of the box with a half CTO filter, then on top of that cover the upper 2/3 of the front with full CTO and the top 1/3 with a more reddish filter.
Because of the starters, all lamps will switch on and off in a random order, giving the effect of a fire. Shadows thrown onto a wall will move up and down and left to right because of the spacing between the lamps. You can also put a 1 kW handdimmer in between, this will not only lower the intensity of the lights but also slow down the tempo of switching on and off.
Don't forget to drill some ventilation holes in all four sides of the box. To prevent light leakage through those vent holes you can mount a cover with sufficient spacing blocking the light but not the air.

This light is very effective. When I built it about 15 years ago in my shed and gave it a test run, one of the kids from my neighbours came banging on our kitchen window shouting that our shed was on fire. BTW I still use that same light, so it has been a lot of bang for the buck.

Good luck,

Robbert-Jan van der Does
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