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Old May 28th, 2009, 06:33 AM   #1
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Exploding Lights?


I have fifty 15 watt bulbs from a previous shoot and was thinking about things to do with them. The title of the film is "Break" and I was talking with the director and we though it would be cool if we made a kind of Broadway sign with the bulbs.

We would use it for the opening title. They would turn on, then explode!

At least, that's our idea. But I have no idea if that's even possible, or how to do it. I know very little about this sort of thing.

How would I go about purposefully exploding fifty 15 watt bulbs? Is it possible?

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Old May 28th, 2009, 06:51 AM   #2
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Take some dynamite, or C4 if you're lucky enough to have access, should blow them all to hell, hehe :P

PS: Hammer also works, if that's not what you had in mind blow them with high voltage.
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Old May 28th, 2009, 12:03 PM   #3
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Ask someone else as I am sure this has potential to be very dangerous but after the lights have been on for a while they will be hot, if you rapidly cool them they will explode. A bit of cold water could do the trick but I would have somebody near by to pull a plug. Im sure the above is probably not a good idea in terms of safety.
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Old May 28th, 2009, 12:21 PM   #4
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You're looking for a physical solution to this one, not electrical. You can pop the fillaments by going over-voltage, but they just glow brightly and go out. If you want them to actually break then solenoids with pins will work. Cold water on a low wattage lamp isn't reliable - the envelope temp for low wattage lamps is quite low, and the thermal shock unpredictable. The other danger of course is water and electricity - a dangerous mix unless you know what you're doing. It could be simpler to put the lamps in the shapes you want and then use pyro to produce flashes and flames. microdets, gerbs and other common pyrotechnics could well look better!
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Old May 28th, 2009, 12:54 PM   #5
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Maybe string some cable (Steel braided cable like the kind above cable cars...) around all the bulbs going in a figure 8 (weaving) around them. then when it comes time to explode them, just drop a severe amount of weight on the ends of the cables, causing the cables to pull tight, squeezing the bases and... Boom, they pop!

The cable goes around the base of the bulb, and just drop weight on the cable to break the bulb. once it breaks one, it should drop the cable down on to the next one and break it harder... if you use a small enough wire, it won't be seen too easily.

If you want I can draw out a diagram... I am having a hard time describing it... But make sure nobody is close to the wire, and have it on a breaker so once the cable shorts it, they will go out..

Hope that help!
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Old May 29th, 2009, 07:39 PM   #6
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Sniper fire?
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Old May 31st, 2009, 10:36 PM   #7
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This is how to explode light bulbs, but I'm NOT responsible for damage or death due to negligence....always have the fire department monitoring your shoot for this. This procedure is very dangerous and can be deadly unless professionally supervised!

1. Drill a very small hole in the side of the metal screw base of your bulb.
2. With a syringe, inject some gasoline into the bulb. You don't need a lot. You may need to do some tests to see how much gas to use for the size of fireball/explosion you want.
3. Shake the bulb so the gas evenly coats the inside the globe as well as the filament. The gas vapors will cause the explosion and burning.
4. Tape or seal the hole so it doesn't leak.
5. Install your loaded lightbulb(s)
3. When you flip the switch, the bulbs will explode in a big ball of fire.

If your shot calls for the lights to be lit a few seconds before exploding;
1. Lock down your camera/lights and shoot your sign with normal non-exploding bulbs for a minute.
2. Replace your lights with gas loaded ones and shoot the explosion, making sure you don't move the camera or lights from the previous shot.
3. Edit so you have the first few seconds of just the lights lit, then cut to your explosion.
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Old May 31st, 2009, 10:42 PM   #8
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Remember, you must be professionally supervised for this!
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Old June 2nd, 2009, 05:35 AM   #9
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Wow this sounds like so much fun.

I suspect the idea of sniper fire was intended to be a joke, but you know, if done right it may have merit. If the bulbs were arranged in rows, a single well aimed bullet could hit an entire row. The trouble of course would be to destroy multiple rows quickly. And there is the safety issue, shooting at a gun range may not be easy to arrange & that's about the only place you could do this.

I do have a safer idea to offer. Build your "sign" on a fairly thick backboard, say 1/2 to 1 inch thick. Just at the base of each socket drill a hole to guide a nail from the other side of the board. If angled right and in the right position, a blow from a hammer would break the bulb nicely. Small finishing nails would be very difficult to see. The trick with this idea would be hitting all the nails fast enough, and working around the wiring for the sockets at the same time. Also the sign would have to be mounted very securely to be sure it doesn't move when hitting the nails.
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Old June 2nd, 2009, 07:36 AM   #10
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Yes, it was mostly a joke, but the more I think of it, an air gun could do a nice job without endangering anyone

Or a nail behind each bulb as you suggest with a second board behind the first one so all the nails got hit at once

Or some kind of 3D effect without the real bulbs.
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Old June 2nd, 2009, 09:03 AM   #11
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Film the sign lighting, then turning off... in post, add a particle generator to each of the points of light and create the explosion you're looking for there. Much less dangerous.
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