November 23, 2015 at 6:07AM


How to imitate underwater light rays for a music video?

Hey guys,

we are shooting a music video in December. It's going to have 2 differents worlds/settings and one of them is supposed to be a dreamy unterwater scenery with light beams like you see under water all around hitting the band from above
We are shooting it in a small theater room with lots of lights and mounting options. We have smoke machines.

How would you do it?
In case you dont know what I mean:

Its very very low budget, but I guess there it should be possible with smoke, directional lighting and big stencils or something? Has anybody here ever done anything like that?



You will probably want to get a couple Haser machines instead of smoke machines. Smoke machines create un-even clouds of smoke, where a Haser machine will create an even visual "haze" throughout the room.

As for your beams of light, you might try using an ellipsoidal reflector spotlight where you can insert a metal gobo of the type of light pattern you want to project.

November 23, 2015 at 10:23AM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

You could try something like this -

November 24, 2015 at 2:52AM, Edited November 24, 2:52AM


Thanks to both of you. What Guy posted was acutally was I was searching for, but Ricardo's tip is great also. I am currently discussing with the director which path we go. As money is basically not available I just tried the VFX route which seems to be quite convincing.

November 25, 2015 at 9:42AM


>>>As money is basically not available I just tried the VFX route which seems to be quite convincing.

And you can add or subtract anything you like in post, where you don't don't want to get stuck with a practical effect that makes it harder to match shots when editing.

November 25, 2015 at 2:07PM

Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer

Ha! I was just about to post the same video as Ricardo. FYI, you can easily animate by adding "wiggle expressions" to the masks.

November 26, 2015 at 8:20AM

Luke Neumann

Ahah sorry! I really loved your approach!

Ricardo Constantino

November 27, 2015 at 4:34AM

In post I added underwater lightrays once, years ago (2007).
I went to the harbor, shot reflecting sunlight on the surface of the water.
I After Effects I increased contrast.
Made a composition that was higher than the video.
Put the highcontrast layer in it and rotated it in 3D space as if the camera was under the water surface.
Then I added Trapcode shine.
Et voila, I had light rays coming from above, moving like the waves.

Since that was over 8 years ago there must be a simpler way to do it now :-p (Although using real water gives really natural movement)

The downside of only adding vfx is that you won't see the light hit the band. But that doesn't have to be a problem.

November 26, 2015 at 3:30PM

You voted '-1'.
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer

I find faking underwater shots benefits from having a "real" component in the mix; if you have access to a projector, you might be able to project something like this onto the actors.

I suspect (unless we're talking about a very powerful projector) it won't go far enough to produce the needed effect in the air, but mixing the caustics projected on the actors with digital rays of light could sell the idea.

November 27, 2015 at 1:44AM

Philip Heinrich
Director, Producer

Motionvfx has really good products for what you need. I bought their Rays collection & it does exactly what you need, it's a footage, so you can easily add it in any app. I think postproduction is the best route here.

November 27, 2015 at 1:51PM

Andy Tokarski
Director, Editor, Colorist

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