Thursday, July 05, 2007

Lightmatters - or A Hobo in the Studio

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Nice Film Noir effect, huh? Accomplished with the help of my own personal HOBO (as seen below). See, Hobo is my acronym for Home-Brewed Gobo (pretty sweet, eh?). A Gobo, of course, is a focused studio light that projects an image onto the set - they're commonly used for stage shows etc, but are also very nice to have around a stopmo studio for effects like shuttered windows, branches casting shadows on the ground, etc.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
For mine I just bought an old slide projector off ebay - something small and without the bulky carousel. Analog slide projectors are relics of the past now - phased out to make way for the shiny new digital projectors. But these things are stockpiled away in closets and attics all over the place, just waiting for you to snatch them up. Mine is an Argus AP200, a thing of beauty made in a time when looks counted. It's got this great sort of Art Deco look, kind of reminds me of the front of a train. It takes a 200 watt bulb (no longer manufactured, but can be sourced online at various sites that handle these kinds of things). It's pretty small, but weighs about 10 pounds... but fortunately it has a threaded hole in the bottom to go on a tripod. To create the Gobos you just have to place something opaque on a transparent slide of some sort that fits in the slide housing. I just cut some plastic from the front of a DVD case and stuck a few strips of gaffer tape on it for my admittedly rough shutter effect. A little online research reveals that blu-tac also works.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Another good alternative would be to get an Opaque Projector like the Artograph Tracer. There's a smaller, cheaper model called the Tracer Jr, which has a 3.5" x 3.5" platten for inserting artwork and takes a 75 watt household bulb, which might be good enough, but the regular Tracer takes a 100 watt bulb and allows artwork of 5.5" x 5.5". These would be much lighter than my heavy slide projector and allow you to draw line art using markers or something, doubtless a lot easier to create complex patterns than by cutting tiny pieces of tape to go on a slide!
I've decided to step up the lighting department in the Darkstudio - lighting is essential in creating a good visual effect. This is just one of the tools I'm creating for my arsenal - I'll be detailing more in future Lightmatters entries.


grant said...

hey, happy belated b-day and thanks for posting your lighting exploration. the slide projector idea has a lot of potential.

Darkstrider said...

Hey what up G!!

Anonymous said...

I am impressed, your bravery. Pretty soon there will be Federal Energy Police Agency (FEPA), and you will get busted for having that Argus in your possession, spewing out 200 watts of manly energy/power :)

The drawing projectors, another good Poor man's alternative to control the light beam. You can probably even retro-fit that Argus projector with an alternate light source/lamp by browsing Home Depot's or Lowe's lighting section. Maybe not as hot or high wattage, but maybe good enough for the light sensitive requirements of 'digital acquisition imagery' :o (that phrase make me sound hella smart?)

Strider, since you took risks by living on the edge by your 'walking the talk' 'example' in purchasing
the Lowell Pro Light (which of course is most useful & we learn from you, the trials & errors ), you EARNED the little bit of info/tip/links which I will email to you, for your further possible explorations & experimentation (i don't have time). One has to do about 'snoots', but a specific kind. This resource gift is yours, and at your discretion, can later release your observations to the worldwide Stop Mo DIY'ers.

Go forth Perseus (Mikee) and fulfil your gadgeteering quest,

Zeus (LIO)

Darkstrider said...

Whoah dude! Sweet!!

Together we will bring light to the masses huddled in the dark!

Shelley Noble said...

Noir baby, trés Noir.

Tennessee Reid said...


You are light smart young jedi !

Keep tricking it out.

And getcha some mirrors to refocus - scatter - and lengthen the shadows in your dark wonderland.

Darkstrider said...

Thanks Shelly and Ten!

Mirrors - yes, mirrors.....

Must play with some mirrors.

Pram said...

Hey mike, I like your Gobo!

I used to experiment with a slide projector, but it was really old, and started to smoke. That light in there was hot as hell, too. Kudos to you for actually making that approach work.

Darkstrider said...

Well, I have yet to try leaving it on for any length of time! I was considering putting a little computer fan or something near it to help cool it off, or maybe switching it on and off for each shot.

Pram said...

Oh, like Bruce Bickford does with his lights!