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Blue orb effect in 1984's Starman

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I have an upcoming project where I've been asked to film floating blue orbs around the talent a la "Starman".







My initial thought is to shoot anamorphic, float a battery powered small source on some monofillament, and composite/track over the source with a light aura of sorts (retaining the flare).

I think this MIGHT work, but in these examples there are clearly larger sources being used. They also seem to be coming from relatively the same area as the orb itself.


Due to the obvious keying/compositing (you can see the black matte lines when watching the film around the actors/windows) I was thinking maybe they keyed out a rod holding the light painted or wrapped in green? That would only really make sense with the shot from behind them.


Any attempt to contact the guys who shot these scenes has turned up unsuccessful.


Might anyone have a better idea to achieve this effect? Obviously cameras are quite a bit more sensitive now. So, a smaller, dimmer source isn't out of the question.


Heres a video link to anyone interested:


Camera/lens package has yet to be decided.



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The matte lines were much less noticeable in 35mm. The extra generations have exacerbated them. But that's just the window plate, nothing to do with the orb effect. That's superimposed on a bright practical light, presumably a small halogen bulb in his hand, which doesn't move with the effect.

Edited by Mark Dunn
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  • 1 month later...

may be a set of colored small LED bulbs on a pack of black cables for power, on a contrasty picture cables shouldn't be visible. Some sort of fog or diffusion filter to provide halo effect. I guess those orbs will be rising from someones palm, so the pack of bulbs on cables are being lifted and the cables are being twisted so the bulbs will be spinning in the direction of twisting...This could work I believe.

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you can maybe use a customized streak filter for the effect. if you are shooting the light separately in small scale and composing it later you could maybe hide the light's power cord by fitting it inside a small black tube which is protruding out of the black background (the whole pole is behind the light source so you can just hide it behind the bright bulb :)

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