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Any suggestions for a ghost?

Discussion in 'Special Effects' started by chrispo86, Sep 17, 2008.

  1. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    I'm going to be putting on Hamlet in a little over a month and we've been trying to think of a way to make the ghost seem to float across stage. The director has specifically told me that this effect needs to look real, if it looks cheesy he's going to cut it and do the scene with a voice-over.

    I was thinking blacklights and finding some fabric that really starts radiating, but I'm not sure how it's going to look. Does anybody have any suggestions for making a realistic looking ghost?? Any input would be much appreciated!
     
  2. philhaney

    philhaney CBMod CB Mods

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    Use a scrim with front projection? If you use rear projection, and don't angle it properly, the audience will see the source which is very distracting.

    My two cents.....
     
  3. Van

    Van CBMod CB Mods Premium Member

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    White Cheese cloth and a lot of UV ? If you made a body form and loosley dressed it in chees cloth, then perhaps starched out in places to look like Ectoplasmic waves of energy, even some shredded satin, of white silk could give you a really cool wispy effect. For the show I'm currently in Hell for the Costumer has taken a couple of peices of silk to the table mounted belt sander it makes a really cool soft look, that would glow quiet nicely under UV.
     
  4. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    As always I jump in with my post about how the use of black light on stage is not as easy as many people think. You've got your flourescent approach that is instant on but not super bright. There's the "bucket" with a discharge lamp inside which are brighter but they take 5 minutes to warm up to full power. Or you can do a woods glass filter in standard instrument... instant on and highly directional, but not nearly as bright as the other two. If you can afford to buy/rent from them the folks at Wildfire make everything you need to do black light tricks right, including some really kick butt instruments... but it's very expensive stuff.

    Even the best UV lights will wash out VERY quickly when you turn any other lights on. So you need to very carefully plan the scene and keep your standard stage lights away from the area where the UV is. In your case that should be fairly easy as it's a scene at night and you can keep the other actors isolated to a small area of the stage.

    A great alternate to black light is projection of a face onto a body like surface. They do a lot of that in the Disneyland Haunted House and it's a really cool look. It'll take some pretty precise positioning to pull it off but it's a great look.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2008
  5. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    Thanks for the input! I don't know, I'm not 100% convinced that blacklight is even the way to go, it's just the first thing that popped into my head. I haven't had much of a chance to talk with the director, so I don't know how he's blocking things out (I have a feeling he doesn't either, we're still a ways out). I'm fairly certain he doesn't want to do a projection on a scrim though.

    Has anybody done something like this in the past? With or without blacklight, I'm looking for some different possibilities to present. I have a very tight budget for this show because we went overboard last year and spent more than we should have :rolleyes:


    PS: I'm not planning on true blacklight, I should probably clarify this. Last year we used intels (MAC 250/300's) for the first time in our musical production (this is high school theater). They had this UV filter that we all really liked using and that is what I was thinking about using here. We plan on getting our hands on 2-3 for this show. It definately output a lot of light and still gave me the same sort of effect even with stage lights on.
     
  6. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    That UV filter is "woods glass". It does the job, it's just not nearly as efficient as flourescent or a discharge lamp approach.

    I did Once Upon a Mattress and wanted the Jester to dance with his dead father's ghost. I dressed the ghost actor in a white tux and hat, hung a UV bucket overhead. Turned off all the lights except a tight follow spot on the Jester in the foreground. Fired up the blacklight a few minutes ahead and blocked the scene before with no one else in that area so I didn't have anything glowing. It worked great. Dad's ghost was bright and clear, glowing in the background.
     
  7. cdub260

    cdub260 CBMod CB Mods

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    To get the effect of the ghost floating across the stage, you might consider making it a black light puppet. A fairly simple way of doing this would be to get a life sized Halloween skeleton and drape it in a ghostlike costume painted with UV paint. Then you would probably need two puppeteers dressed head to toe in black to operate the "ghost". You will probably need to make a few minor alterations to the skeleton to make it operate as a puppet. Here's a second skeleton link.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2008
  8. ruinexplorer

    ruinexplorer Minion CB Mods Premium Member Fight Leukemia

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    Although this would be difficult to pull off on a scale of the entire stage, you could probably use a Pepper's Ghost effect in parts of the set. You will need to be in extreme control of your light.

    Check this for info: Pepper's ghost - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  9. SHARYNF

    SHARYNF Well-Known Member

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    Projection is going to be your easiest solution.

    Take an actor in makeup, use a black background, add some effects to the video and project it on a backdrop on the stage

    Sharyn
     
  10. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    Pepper's Ghost would be a really cool way to do it but like you said it requires even more extreme control of light. It also requires some expensive glass and specific set design. But if it's in your budget it would look REALLY cool.

    Another option with a similar effect to Pepper's Ghost would be a black scrim reveal. Have a black scrim hidden in the set that allows the ghost... an actor to appear and disappear with light changes. Combined with some black light this could look really cool.
     
  11. chrispo86

    chrispo86 Active Member

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    I like that suggestion. It would definately be a lot cheaper than glass. I don't have to worry about students accidentally shattering it. And I can easily get rid of it when I don't need it. That's something I'm definately going to have to look into. Thanks!
     
  12. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I'm assuming your set will have some sort of castle on it. What if you took one section of the set and painted scrim instead of flats. The ghost could then appear inside part of the set which could be pretty cool. Also FYI, any time you work with a black scrim reveal you need to to reinforce the scrim with another black drop behind it to be sure no one can see through. Just remove the reinforcement shortly before the scene starts and put it back in when the scene is done.
     
  13. gafftaper

    gafftaper Senior Team Senior Team Fight Leukemia

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    I was at K-mart today (they have the best selection of cheap kid's shoes by the way) anyway in the Halloween section they had these pretty cool looking wraith-ish things. Slightly smaller than life, skull and skeleton arms (I think), in a cloth clothing that's all wispy, dirty, and torn. I had the 2&4 year olds with me so I couldn't investigate too closely, just got a brief distant look... didn't want to freak the kids out). It could easily be the base for a pretty cool ghost for hamlet with a few extra touches to establish period and who the character is. They had two versions for $30 or $40. Check your local K-mart (Possibly available at Sears as well since they are now the same company. I've actually seen products with a made for K-mart tag on sale a Sears).
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2008

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