Human Light source

twhitworth Posts: 121 Just Starting Out*

Have an upcoming project where an actor will be a human light source in a very dark room. Essentially the only light source in the room.

I'm really trying to come up with a way to do this in camera but wondering if anyone has ever seen anything like this before and could recommend some sources where I can get more ideas.

Thank you!


  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 1,995 Just Starting Out
    edited March 2020

    This sounds like a super cool shot. Do you have a storyboard or any image or drawing of this? 

    In camera, honestly, to amplify a light source one of the ways would be attaching a string or thin rubber band to the front of the lens and then that would create an expensive cinema lens anamorphic flare effect for free, without revealing what's right infront of the lens due to focus length.

    It is otherwise very hard to convey light in camera. Infact, the vast, vast majority of light sources even if real in camera, are amplified in post production using visual effects.

    Another thing to keep in mind is the inverse square light law, so if you are actually shining a light on your actor. In camera, the background and surroundings will be darker than the subject once the subject has been exposed properly, when the light source is closer to the subject. Vice versa.

    So to simplify things further, what I'm thinking is a light cone on the subject, not too far away, and the actor could wear some smaller LED's so that moving around will create a cool anamorphic effect by using the string method described above.

    Curious what others can come up with.

  • twhitworth
    twhitworth Posts: 121 Just Starting Out*

    This may have to be a sfx/vfx combo. I was thinking of strapping the actor with LED's under a special costume to give the effect that he/she is emmiting light while getting some of the surrounding atmosphere to be illuminated enough to know what should be naturally illuminated in post.

    I don't have any storyboards of this yet. Still trying to wrap my head around this.

  • tddavis
    tddavis Posts: 5,181 Expert

    @twhitworth Now that you mention something like that, I think I recall a BTS feature of Watchmen talking about something like that for Dr. Manhattan.  Might be worth a deep dive into google to see if it's available on YT.