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Simulate Lighting with HMI's possible? Imitating The Matrix

Roger Alexander

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I'm looking to mimic this fight scene from the matrix with bright flashing lights outside these windows - supposedly lightning from the storm outside. (see attached 1-3)


My assumption at first was that they maybe had some HMI's hooked up to flicker boxes. But then I thought that HMI's have issues with hot strikes so maybe that's not what was used?


Can an hmi work on a flicker box to simulate lighting? If so, what reccomendations of a flicker box do you reccomend I use?


If I can't use an HMI to simulate lightning with flicker, how else can I achieve this effect? I'm hoping to only use 2 light sources that are bright enough to shine through windows like this and get reflections on the floor and walls? Some how I need that flicker effect done even if it's not from a flicker box.


You can see more of the fight scene in motion at: https://youtu.be/0EpC2T00PAE?t=3m32s


Also attached is the building I will be shooting in and the windows I'll be shining through. All advice welcome!









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Don't ever put an HMI on a dimmer or flicker box. With a magnetic ballast, you'll fry the ignitor or waste a globe. Electronic one will either turn off or burn down.

You can get DMX controlled blinds/shutter for them though. Usable with up to 18K.


There are special xenon-based fixtures for imitating lighting - Lighting Strikes and the like. Keep in mind they'll require a significantly overpowered genny.

Edited by Michael Rodin
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You can "dim" an HMI (or any light) with a grid.


If you can manage to place a grid on a frame in front of the HMI, you just make the grid rotate around its stand and it cuts/dims the light off. If you use diffusion, the grid has to be between the diffusion frame and the HMI to accomplish this. Not in front of the diffusion frame as when using the grid in a normal way.


It's actually what Michael suggested with the DMX shutters, but if you haven't access to those, you can Mac Gyver it a bit like this.

Edited by Ron Fya
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You can get a manual flicker effect with HMI's using a solid metal flag; usually a 4x4 or 2x3.


Place the flag in front of the head to fully block it. With the flag locked into the gobo head (c-head), loosen a keeper on the stand to allow you to pan the flag.


When the flag is parallel to the light, it blocks it. When it's perpendicular, it allows nearly all light through. Flipping quickly between those two positions will create a lightning effect. Requires someone to be a flag operator, but hey you would've needed to spend a crew member anyways right?

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