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Old June 7th, 2011, 05:39 AM   #1
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How To - Flickering fire effect

I am shooting a period piece starting in a week and have been working on one of the principal lighting effects needed - flickering light. We have several night scenes that will be lit and will need that effect.

I looked around and found a a few ways to do it from fluorescent lamp starters to a real electronic lighting box ($$$$$).

What I settled on is a circuit kit I found from a small company on the internet (North Country Radio). Its a microprocessor driven kit that has 3 channels of flickering output. The board is very small and fit into the bottom of a 4x4 electrical box. I wired everything up to a pair of duplex outlets. Add 4 brooder lights with 40w incan lamps and poof - safe flickering light for your scene.

Last night I fired it up and gave it a test. You can see the result here - YouTube - ‪Low light test for the F3‬‏

If there is any interest in seeing more about how it was done I'll be glad to post some pics of it going together. I have 5 more to build. ;)
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Old June 8th, 2011, 10:07 AM   #2
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Re: How To - Flickering fire effect

Here is a video showing how I put the box together.

YouTube - ‪Building the flicker box.mov‬‏
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Old June 13th, 2011, 12:30 PM   #3
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Re: How To - Flickering fire effect

This is our first trial of the flicker box. Its a work in progress and we will refine its operation as it goes.

YouTube - ‪Let Tyrants Fear Lighting and Grading Evaluation‬‏
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Old July 2nd, 2011, 04:11 PM   #4
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Re: How To - Flickering fire effect

How much does that little microprocessor circuit board cost? Link please?
Firelight is hard to film right.
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Old July 7th, 2011, 10:03 PM   #5
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Re: How To - Flickering fire effect

Hmm - I think the flashes are too regular and - well, flash like compared to a real fire,, as if it's switching the lamps on and off sort of randomly as opposed to varying their intensity.

Might be wrong but that's how it impressed me. Maybe if there had been an establishing shot showing a real fire for a moment or so it would have "sold" better though
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Old July 8th, 2011, 04:43 AM   #6
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Re: How To - Flickering fire effect

Sorry for the delay in responding here.

Here is the link to the company offering the controllers:

Flicker and Flame Effect Light Controllers

The one that I'm using if the FLICKER3. They don't offer the FLICKER6 anymore.

I've done more experimentation and lots of things affect how it looks. Which bulbs you use, how they are spaced out, their color, etc. The second thing is to have steady lights mixed in on a dimmer to balance the flicker. I've been able to create a reasonable camp fire effect using 2 modules together for a more complex lighting flicker. I'll be shooting those scenes in a few weeks using the boxes and will post some samples of the results when I have them.

The lamps don't flash on and off but flicker in intensity without going off. The one thing I wish was adjustable was the level of dimming of the lamps. I can't complain too much when I look at the cost of the things. ;)
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Old July 8th, 2011, 11:41 AM   #7
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Re: How To - Flickering fire effect

Sounds right. I suspect a lot does indeed have to do with the bulb characteristics - also occurred to me that the inter bulb spacing would be important as a real flame casts shadows from quite different directions as the flames rise and fall. Have you tried clear vs frosted bulbs and bulbs of varying wattage as well?

A real fire is quite complex after all.

And thanks for all the info - this is quite interesting.
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Old July 13th, 2011, 10:03 PM   #8
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Re: How To - Flickering fire effect

This is a trailer for a film I gaffed I used a DIY filicker box for the fire effect.

‪The Curse of Micah Rood‬‏ - YouTube

Enjoy,
Bill
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Old July 14th, 2011, 07:12 AM   #9
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Re: How To - Flickering fire effect

That one looks like it was done with the fluorescent starter setup.
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Old July 15th, 2011, 01:06 AM   #10
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Re: How To - Flickering fire effect

I hope this isn't a dumb suggestion, but what about just getting a big projector or flat panel display and running footage of a real fire? That should help with the motion, color, and intensity changes that a real fire has.
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