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Thread: Time lights to illuminate and dim

  1. #1

    Default Time lights to illuminate and dim

    For my next project, I may want to simulate the kinds of lighting found at a modern 'dance/rave/disco'; i.e. Laser lights, LED globes, flashing lights and fast moving spotlights. I have very little experience of such events and such lighting equipment. AFAIK lasers illuminate and dim extremely fast. In terms of frame of video it must just be a case of the laser being either on or off. Perhaps at the other end of the scale are those big searchlights which appear to take over a second to dim.
    I have no idea what the technical term for the 'dimming time' is called. Does anyone have knowledge of this; or any charts or lists I can get this information from?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    London, England


    Not specific help, but perhaps that dying searchlight term is "afterglow" - and as you say can be several seconds - but that will depend on the sensitivity of the camera - if sensitive the beam is burnt out, but any afterglow will last longer.

    I suspect you need to visit a Disco-hire co and maybe try their gear (or visit a dance venue in full swing ) {+Foley cruise]. This may help track down the best effects/exposure.

    During the war, I understand the searchlights were arc-lamps, which create a very high intensity light at the centre - the same principle was (was) used in stages for following leading actors. Nowadays I'm fairly sure this will be modern lamps enclosed in glass.

    Just a word of warning, that lasers might kill a sensor! Might be wise to fit ND and say starburst filter to spread the tiny dot. Alternatively use film . . . . arrgh but the added flicker should not be noticed and it "might" give some control over the artistic finish. Also it g'tees no issues with sensors. Just watch yr eyes. (Headphones are a must to cut soundlevels and this might be an issue for sensitive mics.)

    I expect you know all that?

  3. #3


    Many thanks for the pointers and suggestions. I have now watched a number of YouTube clips of these discos, and get the feeling that high speed flashing does not get adequately recorded using standard 30fps video. I am now considering doing more research into 'flashing'.
    Also; thanks for the advice about damaging my equipment. However I shall only be simulating the lighting using animation and standard video editing effects.

  4. #4


    Just an observation, lasers do flicker a lot. If you look at the example video you will see what I mean. When filming them it's a bit like filming a TV/computer screen you have to get the right shutter speed or they don't look good. I don't know if this helps.

  5. #5


    Thanks for the clip. And I see your point about the wagon-wheel effect (I think the term may be 'temporal aliasing'). AFAIK, the Laser light itself remains on but is gets projected between 2 (or more) points in rapid succession, to give the impression of sheets of light. (thinks - this seems a good example of something which cannot be successfully filmed without a cool shutter speed interface to the lighting equipment).
    I suspect the display in the clip was fantastic to see 'live'. But it really looks oddly unimpressive in YouTube clip.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    London, England


    Been thinking about this and wonder if you'll have to fake-it?

    ie frames showing (wide shot) of the straight light-beams (eg through some "smoke-effect"), these can jump about frame by frame...?

    Any dancers' faces can be flashed bright/dark to convey the enormous difference between the darkness and flashes.

    Just a thought.

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