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Aurora Borealis

Discussion in 'Special Effects' started by 030366, May 9, 2009.

  1. 030366

    030366 Member

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    I'm designing Almost, Maine this summer, and the Aurora is an integral part of the play. So, as LD, I need to make it happen. Any ideas on how to do this? I have a few ideas...but probably none of them are good. Also, apparently the Aurora has a million faces, so I'm not sure what kind of final product I should be shooting for. The original picture in my head looked kind of like this:

    [​IMG]

    But now that I've looked around a bit, it seems that this is more common:

    [​IMG]

    Any opinions? Ideas? Much like most other theatres, we don't have a lot of technology to play with.
     
  2. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    If you can afford them, Rosco Colorizers!!!!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Especially when used as side light streaking across a cyc or at other angles, they can look awesome.


    If you are cheap, the old piecing together gel trick might work.
     
  3. 030366

    030366 Member

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    Don't forget that the Aurora moves and pulsates.
     
  4. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    Gobo rotators, selective chases, maybe even moving lights?

    If you had the budget maybe rent a projector or digital light?

    It's really up to you there are alot of options, but what is your budget like?
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2009
  5. 030366

    030366 Member

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    The budget is something we need to "talk about", which means we probably won't get one. Ha. We do, however, own two gobo rotators. We have a few Trackspots, but I don't know how to use intelligent light fixtures....not as if that sort of technicality has ever stopped me before, but I really don't believe there is enough time to learn it for this show. Perhaps a combination of the rotators with a chase? I figured I'd be cutting my own gobos for this anyway, so I'm all set for that. What specifics do you suggest?
     
  6. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    I don't really have any specifics. That's kind of a CB thing, we don't always want to tell you WHAT to do, we give you ideas and suggestions to help you on the creative path. This seems like its more a trial and error thing than a "this is how to do it" effect.

    At least you have some equipment and creativity at your disposal. I'm sure with a creative use of gobos, rotators and programming, you can get a satisfying look.

    Also, here is an article from GAM on splicing gel colors: SplitGel : Mixed Color Split Gels from GAM : Lighting Equipment For Architectural, Specialty & Theatrical Effects


    Remember I"m only one person others will surely have other/better ideas/suggestions.
     
  7. 030366

    030366 Member

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    Thanks! I figured if I asked here, I would get many different opinions and I could mash it all up into something that works for us. What about the shape of the Aurora? Do you guys think it should be that snakish wavy-line look, or the spikey Windows Media Player look? Or something in between? It's hard to get an idea of what audiences would accept as What The Aurora Borealis Looks Like.
     
  8. MNBallet

    MNBallet Active Member

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    I just have to correct the record from Gaftapegreenia.

    Those are not Colorizers, they are Color Waves.
    I've been asked to create the Northern Lights as well next fall, so I'll be keeping a close eye on this thread too. I was thinking of going with Color Waves and a textured glass in a double rotator. If I can muster up the money.

    Kenneth Pogin
    Production / Tour Manager
    Minnesota Ballet
     
  9. bobgaggle

    bobgaggle Well-Known Member

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  10. gafftapegreenia

    gafftapegreenia CBMod CB Mods

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    Hm, I like the idea of a texture glass in a rotator and the color wave static.
     
  11. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    The audience will accept a black backdrop as long as the acting is good. Resist the urge to create a stunning, spectacular effect--one that cannot help but "upstage" the performers.

    Moving background images can be quite detrimental to the delivery of the message of the spoken word.

    Just my 2ยข.
     
  12. Nathaniel

    Nathaniel Member

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    I did Almost, Maine 2 years ago, and here's what I did:

    Use Cyc lights with Red, Green, Blue Gels.

    Manually fade these in and out for your effect, varying them each time, so they're not the same(works best if you have more than one channel per color, like L/R, or even one channel per bank of cyc lights)

    We only did this at the ends of the scene, so maybe 5-10 seconds of northern lights per scene

    We performed this at our regional one-act festival, and I got a special commendation for lights

    you could also do it with cues/effects/chases, but i find it's better to do it manually, you get a unique effect each time, but it's still controllable
     
  13. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Other things I might try in conjunction with the gobo rotator: A linear disk on an animation wheel. If you had a scroller you weren't using, a custom colour scroll with aurora colour slowly going end-to-end might also get you part way there . . .
     
  14. 030366

    030366 Member

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    I agree. Thanks for the reminder.

    So Nathaniel, you didn't do anything to affect the shape of the light, just changed the cyc colour? That worked for the audience?

    I have no idea what you're saying, haha. What is a linear disk? What is an animation wheel?
     
  15. Nathaniel

    Nathaniel Member

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    the audience loved it. it wasn't too complicated, so it didn't distract from the show, but it was enough like the actual aurora that the audience understood it

    i think it helped to have almost waves of color, moving from left to right, or right to left, with some random coloring thrown in.

    how i actually worked it:
    6 faders, 1 L and 1 R for each color
    one finger on each fader, move from left to right, right to left, sometimes an occasional twitch of the finger thrown in. smooth transitions, just play around with it until you find a speed that looks right
     
  16. seanandkate

    seanandkate Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    Something like this Infinity Wheel from Rosco:
    Rosco UK : Lighting Equipment : Infinity Gobo Animation Device

    I would try the linear breakup wheel or triangle breakup wheel, that way you get the undulating wave thing going on with the projection. If you have a place that rents them, see if they can let you try a couple wheels to see what works best. It's often hit-and-miss. (I'm lucky in that I work really close to the Canadian office for Rosco, so I will drift by and me and one of their technicians can try some things out to see what works best . . .)

    Good luck!
     
  17. porkchop

    porkchop Well-Known Member

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    I really like animation wheels and if you had the equipment on hand I would suggest using them very slowly using higher saturation for times where lights can briefly take over the stage. That being said I have actually seen the Aurora Borealis (or whatever version of the phenomenon is sometimes seen in the northern United States) and what Nathaniel explained on the cyc would be a lot more similar to what I saw than the pictures you commonly see or any kind of color wave. Another wonderful part of this idea is you can use effects (obviously the more effects you use the more time it will take but a larger variety of background effects can be achieved) and that way you could have a slower changing less eye catching effect for moments where the actors must command the viewers attention and more dynamic more bold backgrounds can be used to bump up the attention on the environment. You of course can always use faders for even biggest element of random in the effect but I like pre programed effects.
     
  18. epimetheus

    epimetheus Well-Known Member

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    On a tight budget I think I'd go with Nathaniel's solution. Keep it simple and like Derek said, you don't want to upstage the acting.
     
  19. 030366

    030366 Member

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    On the other hand, though, this has to be somewhat of a showpiece, since this is a high-visibility gig for me, one that will introduce my work to a lot of key people--the sort of people who are impressed by theatricality. No matter what it looks like, there's always still a way to introduce the effect subtly.

    I've been messing around with some stuff, and I think it might look really nice as executed with gobo rotators and homemade gobos. I didn't think split gels would look so good, but they actually look a lot better than I thought they might.

    Still open to suggestions, though. I asked around about the animation wheel and that's not possible for us.
     
  20. godd2

    godd2 Member

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    aurora borialis affect

    This fall we are doing a production that requires an effect that simulates the northern lights. Since we want it to be dark upstage with "star fiber optics", the white cyc with lighting on it doesnt work.

    so this is where i am at right now.

    1.have bought a lower end hazer and am using water based fluid.
    2.since the fire alarms are an issue, we have trap doors in the ceiling cracked open to allow escape before the haze builds up. does effect the hang time though. anyone think that oil based fluid may do better in this situation?
    3. so began testing yesterday and found that the fresnels I had hoped to use dont really show up well, so I am going to have to use an ellipsoidal. since I do not want "beams" of light but more area of light, I am thinking of using a 50 degree source four with diffusion gel on it and then pointing it up.
    Do you guys think this will give me a decent spread that isnt too defined? should I run the barrel also to make it more hazy? would the source 4 with out any lens maybe be bright enough to show up unlike the fresnel?
    4. I am planning on using 2 small fans to help spread out the hazer quickly and then 2-3 more to try and help push it upstage so it doesnt go out into the audience too much. this sound like a good idea? my origianl idea was a black scrim to help control it but dont have the budget.

    thanx for the advise

    [Edit by mod: This post moved here from another thread.]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 3, 2009

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