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jovan.todorovic

Reflecting light using crystals

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Dear Colleagues,

 

I'm wondering what objects, surfaces or props can be used to achieve interesting light reflection patterns? See this example of the Feist music video:

 

It doesn't have to be that one per say, but any other technique that you guys could recommend from experience?

 

Sincerely,

 

Jovan Todorovic

jovan.tv

Edited by jovan.todorovic

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The simplest and cheapest one I know is aluminum foil, crinkle it more for more scatter. I used it on set once together with some gels to create a "water-reflection effect." You can if you want cut holes thru it, put different gels on different parts to get some interesting patterns/blending of light...

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Possibilities are endless. Metal cheese graters put up amazing patterns when hard light goes through them, and bouncing off sheets of mylar (especially when the mylar has lots of distortions and ripples) produces wonders. If you look at the movie LIFEFORCE (or DAMNATION ALLEY if you're even more of a masochist), you can see laser-scanned stuff, and in the case of LIFEFORCE that is mostly lasers bounced off glass (pressed glass cheap-o ashtrays) and mylar. There's some stuff at the end of BRAINSTORM as the hero approaches 'heaven' that has a lot of the glass reflection stuff made into something called lissajous patterns (sp?) ...

 

Someplace I've got about 200 feet of Super-8 macro stuff with mylar and mirrors that was all intended for space warp stuff back in the 80s .... somewhere ...

Edited by KH Martin

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In the clip in your comment, I believe she's just against a circular brushed aluminium panel such as this one here with something like a custom cookie passing in front of the light. I love the idea of light light reflections because they add a certain realism in the sense that they're usually an imperfection. I second what KH and Karl said... It basically just comes down to experimenting! Aluminium foil sounds like a good idea, as does mylar. I did some vortoscope experimentation a few years ago for an experimental student project, but I'd love to find a way to copy that "split" effect with light. I've done it in the theatre world with intelligent lighting systems and prisms, but never in film. That could be something fun the play with?

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Aidan, Karl, Martin,

 

Thank you guys so much for all the ideas. I'm definitely going to try aluminum foil and mylar. I'll also play with making small holes in them and see how that works. I went to a Chinese store today and found some nice crystal balls with plenty of angles. I used a small battery lamp to test them in a dark corner and it seems nice, only very hard to control and too shaky, since the crystal is small and in my hand. I'm thinking the hanging crystal ornaments from a ceiling lamp would be a good one as well. I'll keep you guys posted with the results...

 

Sincerely,

 

Jovan Todorovic

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Something to keep in mind is that when you bounce light through a high-quality piece of glass, it has less imperfections, and you get less interesting results. At least that is what Dykstra and Apogee found out on LIFEFORCE. They bought a really nice pricey piece of crystal and the laser just went through it without much of anything visual, so that's why they went with the pressed-glass ashtrays! I know they did put a laser through a crystal fairly successfully years earlier for the photon torpedoes in the first TREK movie, but the results look kinda cartoony because they went so many generations that the soft edged flares got all hard-looking. But I guess before they got busy going generations in making the comp that it was supposed to be too cool for school.

 

I absolutely love low-tech fx. Sometimes I'll dig out the old CINEFEX on THE RIGHT STUFF just to get re-inspired, as they spent months trying to program motion control moves on aircraft models, only to find out they were better off throwing foam models out of upper-floors down at a camera underneath! That, and putting somebody's personal vibrator on the camera to get a bit of turbulent shake, really made the shots live a little.

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