March 15, 2017 at 7:03PM

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How to simulate a lightning storm?

Hi
I am going to shoot a few outdoor scenes that takes place during a thunderstorm.

My question is" How can I simulate the lightning from the thunderstorm in a cheap and easy way?
I wanna shoot it "in-camera", so I am not looking for some "after effect-sulution"

Best regards.

9 Comments

Wait for the storm to arrive :)

March 18, 2017 at 11:30AM

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Dibyendu Joardar
Director of Photography
597

Unless you pop out a strobe, or flash, the only other way is some "After Effects solution".

March 18, 2017 at 8:19PM, Edited March 18, 8:19PM

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Craig Douglas
Writer/ Director/ Editor/ Videographer
1591

March 20, 2017 at 8:56AM, Edited March 20, 8:56AM

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Josef Lorenzo
Director
235

New to your site here and I know your looking at this in a motion film sense but thought ild throw this out there. In still photos if you take b&w film and before you process it (by Hand), you RIP the film. The static charge in the film will create lightning bolts down the emulsion of the film.

March 20, 2017 at 9:54AM, Edited March 20, 9:54AM

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Brian,
do you mean rip :-). Man imagine ripping a exposed film spool in the darkroom! That's a lot of work, only passion can undertake.

March 21, 2017 at 11:31AM

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Dibyendu Joardar
Director of Photography
597

Car battery, wooden scissor to shortcut the wires.
Wear protection and rubber gloves and shoes. Stay away from water.

I believe something like that was done in the old days.

March 22, 2017 at 2:50PM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
8570

If you don't want to use any post work, you'll have better luck shooting your scene primarily in close ups and medium shots and using lighting (strobes, flashes, etc) to suggest the larger storm. If you shoot anything wider you're gonna need a TON of light.

Let the sound design sell the size of the storm. If needed, you can also use cutaways to footage actual of lightning to seal the suggestion of a big thunderstorm.

March 23, 2017 at 2:29PM, Edited March 23, 2:29PM

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Laura A
Writer :: Director
86

In the end of this video you can see how they create lightning with a 'manual shutter': a piece of black card board with a few openings moving in front of the light.

March 24, 2017 at 8:52AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
8570

I had to create a machine gun lighting effect once, of yourse a strobe didnt work (shutter speed), so i built a device for that i called "aris total flash" (hope my english is understandable):
I took an old computer speaker (because they are active) and replaced the actual speaker part with a relay suitable for line current. I took apart an extension cord so the relay would run through it.
So if i had an mp3 player plugged in, the power wouldnt go to the speaker thing but trigger my relay. The Relay then was opening the floodgates for the line current. The Line current powered a cheap flood light (you need a hard light for flash simulation).

So at the end i had an mp3 with the machine gun sound which was played over a subwoofer for the actor (my sound guy allowed it) and triggered the light flashes at the same time. In Post, i could align the audio of the mp3 perfectly.

This sounds may sound complicated first, but can be achieved inexpensively and is very little work. The flood light was a 500W light from a construction store. Since it glows a little longer than a flash bulb, you wont see the ugly stipes even at slightly shorter exposure times. Since the speaker had a volume Knob, I could basically adjust the sensitivity to sound.

Of course: If you are working with line current, you hae to know what you are doing or get somebody who knows.

If the thunderstorm is supposed to be impressive and wide, rent an A7s and do that with a 1000w Floodlight (with CTB) on a long Pole so you can light a huge area with that. If you have tthe skillset, open after effects, hide the light and copy some photos of flashes into the sky in the direction your flash simulation was coming from. Otherwise just hide it with framing. This way, you might have to invest one day in building and testing but you will be able to get stunning results.

If all that still sounds too complicated: just get an a7s, a floodlight, CTB, a pole and a power cord with power knob to go wild on :D

March 25, 2017 at 10:02AM, Edited March 25, 10:07AM

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Daniel
just a filmmaker
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