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January 1994


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John Cobb III <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 14 Jan 1994 00:14:15 -0600
text/plain (219 lines)
Please read and enjoy and Thanks once again for any opinions.
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        The film script "Seagull Wind" calls for 12 fantasy world type secenes
and each one is different. Instead of outlining all 12 at once I thought
giving some of the details of one , that would  allow you to explore it.
After exploring it I would be happy to hear your opinions on concept and
materials for prop design.
        the Narration: Why do we
                       Of past
                       And Future
THERE IS MUSIC SET TO THE NARRATION,  however there are no speaking parts
for the actress in this segment of the film- instead of speech she is
coreagraphed into the set with the narration and music. The actress
symbolizes the poetic muse. The set has a sur-real fantasy fairy like
quality to it. I see a patch of mushrooms, one about 8feet tall which the
stem starts to strech as the actress pushes herself out of the stalk of
the mushroom then dances some around the mushrooms winds up on her
tip-toes and reaches for the sky pointing towards the moons in outer space
then a fairy like dust spews forth from her hands racing towards the
moons. As you can see a lot has been left out such as what does the folige
looks like, what does the terrain look like, what are the colors of the
mushrooms. I visualize the actress in a semi-nude like costume made out of
special effects phosthics.
        I think it would help a lot to have art work done to turn the
vision into tangable concept- can you do this.
BTW: the following sujections were sent to me . I would be glad to hear
your opions on them any they are not in any order.And is not compresenive
from the mail LARGE amount of mail so if your ideal isn't here it's
somewhere in the volume of mail and should be added when I get to it.
But back to the subject: it all depends on WHAT you're shooting on, HOW
MUCH ACCESS you have to facilities, how PROFESSIONAL you are, WHAT KIND
of budget you're operating on, & whether you want this scene as a stand-
alone image, or as a background to some action.
If you're shooting on Super 8, 16 or 35 mm, with `no-budget', little
access, & the scene is stand-alone or involves little action, you may go
with the same trick as used in `Tron'. First you shoot the forest or
garden in Black & White, on hard chroma, high contrast film, such as
Kodalith. Once processed, you then make a copy by projecting it into
the camera with a nice GREEN light instead of white.
The result will be that everything lighter than black will become green
on your copy. You'll have to shoot near dusk, or cut your exposure by
half (or less, depending on the lighting of course). I also helps to use
a green filter while shooting the original; it lightens the green
colors, & darkens the red, increasing the contrast. If the scene
involves other objects or people, the color distortion can be made less
obvious by making them wear black garment, & masking their face. You can
turn this into your advantage, if you place white stripes or spots on
their garment; in the final version it'll look like `fluorescent dirt'
that's been brushed off the leaves.
With a little more access to laboratories, you may go with a process
(which will basically give you the same color-distortion as above, but a
more professional result), utilizing panchromatic separation stock, #
5235 in the case of 35 mm films. I don't have the time to describe the
process, but at the end of this post I'll give you a bibliography -
Z.Perisic's book contains the description.
You can enhance the `dream-like' effect by using diffusion-, pastel-,
fog- or star-filters (Cokin is compatible with virtually everything in
the market), together or only one at a time. I'd especially recommend a
fog filter, combined with a 4-star filter for closeups of water-drops;
I've seen it before, & it was spectacular.
If you're shooting on video, consumer or prosumer, & have access to a
Video Toaster (about US $ 8,000.00 the basic setup, including tax, but
it'll give you a whole independent production facility), you can
`switch' colors (can't remember the professional term), or you can re-
color each picture. It takes a lot of time, but may be worth it.
Easier way to do it, of course, to get fluorescent paint. Wildfire Inc.
(T: 310-559-8907, Fax: 310-559-2218), a California based company, sells
High Output U.V. fixtures, custom fluorescent props, & fluorescent
paints. Don't know their prices, though... It may be worth to use one of
the `simpler' techniques for super-plans, & the paint for extreme close-
Phosphorescent materials don't show up well on camera, especially if you
have to throw a lot of light on the set.  Joe Ellis had a syringe which
he filled up with the material out of a Cyalume lightstick and had to
drop the set lighting down to about 20 footcandles in order to get it to
show up well enough, and that stuff is about the brightest around.
You might look into using something like fluorescein green, mixing it
up with white glue or some other kind of carrier, then using black light
(near UV) to illuminate the stage.  The problem here is that you then
need to filter your UV lights to keep stray blue out, and you need a UV
filter on the camera because most color negative stock is much too
sensitive to UV (which is why some pink flowers will register as blue
in sunlight... is that still a problem with EXR stuff?)
Stay away from far UV sources which are more dangerous than you want to
deal with.  Hmm.. maybe germicidal lamps with a glass filter to keep the
far UV stuff out would be a start.  Hey, even HMIs probably put out enough
stray UV to do a good job with appropriate filtration.
Leaves are thin, thus difficult to hide illumination sources in them. The
answer would seem to be putting the lamps in the stem and using fibre optics
to make the leaves glow. You could either embed fibre bundles (glued to the
face of a cloth leaf ?) or try moulding leaves out of some sort of clear
resin (silicone rubber ?). It's already a noted botanical effect that some
plants act as fibre optics.
You might like to investigate UV light sources and judicious use of optical
brighteners on the leaves. The old "black light in the ceiling" would make
your leaves glow, but it's *soo* tacky.
For your glowing effects, as has already been mentioned, try flouresent
paint, speayed from a distance and very lightly. Then hit the prop with UV
light. The cheapest of both, I would guess, wold be to get the paint at a
regular paint store- a toy store, a prop store. The UV lights that I have
used were flourescent bulbs that fit in standard housings that we had taken
out of a ceiling. Plug them in and voila. Dimming is achieved by distance. If
you can reflect it with aluminum foil on the housing and reflectors, you can
get a fairly good throw out of it and give the actors moving room.
Anyway, I just have a bolex and I light for video, and shoot all video these
days, so I don't know where I could lend much of an informational hand but if
you have a question, feel free to throw it my way. I might have a tidbit like
this one buried somewhere in my brain.
It seems like simple luminous paint over artifical plants would give the
effect you want, unless I'm misreading your request. Another possibility
would be UV-reactive paints and blacklight, which might allow for a greater
range of colors.
You can get a glowing effect by buying those "glow flares" that I've seen
at such high tone places as K-Mart (these are the tubes that you twist and
bend and they glow).  Cut it open and smear the interior liquid on whatever
Have you tried Ultra violet light and fluorescent paint or dye? If you get the
balance of tungsten light (or daylight) and UV right, then it should give it
just that other wordly quality. I used this with bottles in a "hell bar", which
I filled with tonic, since it contains quinine, which fluoresces blue.
Go ahead and write to me, I do a number of types of effects, plus lighting,
sound, and other prop-type stuff for theatrical and amateur people.
One thing to do that might create this effect is use fiber optic cables.
use a strong light source, perhaps under the stage, run the fibers
up to the various foliage, and have the cables either in, on, or
aimed at the foliage. You might check with your local cable or
phone company to see if they would be willing to donate some cable,
or I can get you the name of the company that makes some
(I have a small piece)
I seem to remember that there are places that make plastic cable
that is specifically made for light-type effects, rather than
glass, for phone or communications.  If you want, I will
try to check on that.
Are you looking for a glow the dark kind of effect?  It shouldn't
be too hard to find glow in the dark paint or pigment though it may
kill the plants.  Or you could paint them with dayglo paint (or even
just detergent) and use UV lights and UV insensitive film.  Or you
could try specifically spot-lighting the stuff you want to get to glow.
I suspect you will be best off trying to get the effect you want (or
a similar one- have you thought about trying to capture that perfect
stillness when everything is bright and radiant on a day in
mid spring or early fall and the air is clear and hangs just right?
Perfect for a fantasy world...) by being creative with lighting and
experimenting a lot... but these are just my naive suppositions.
I am sending you this suggestion for the "Glowing Plant" effects you  are
seeking.  I have seen some similar effects done using 3M Scotchlite
materials.  Scotchlite comes in paint and tape of various widths.  It has
a unique property of reflecting light directlly back to the source.  You
see it used in street and highway markings.
By painting or coating an object with Scotchlite and using a
beam-splitter in front of the lens, a low wattage light can be projected
through the beamsplitter to illuminate the Scotchlite.  This is the same
process used in Front Projection cinema techniques.  Because the
Scotchlite is so efficient as a reflector, the small amount of light
needed for the effect is easily washed out by the normal lighting on the set.
Thanks for any help you can provide
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