Neil Oseman


Firelight: Revenge of the Cyclotron

Back in early 2012, gaffer Colin Smith and I built a wagon light – or Cyclotron, as it was soon dubbed. Alright, Colin did most… all of the building, despite what this video may appear to show.

The dimmer board controlling the Cyclotron sits on the arm of the sofa next to the tungsten avenger itself.

The dimmer board controlling the Cyclotron sits on the arm of the sofa next to the tungsten avenger itself.

Somehow, the Cyclotron never got used. The 100W bulbs and clip-on fixtures that comprised it did get used, however. They were scattered throughout the shop in Stop/Eject, hidden behind a bed in Ashes, and used to create a sunset in The One That Got Away. And last weekend, they got turned into something which the moniker “Cyclotron” seems to fit even better.

Shooting Coffin Grabber, directed by Claire Elizabeth Alberie, we needed firelight to play on the face of a character called Phil. I asked Col to rig up a bank of eight 100W bulbs, running two of them into each of the four channels on his dimmer board. During the takes he would oscillate the faders in random patterns to suggest the flicker of flames.

In front of the bulbs I hung a sheet of Urban Sodium gel. Given Phil’s character, I didn’t want the sunny feel of a straw colour or the homely orange of CTO (Colour Temperature Orange). I happened to have some Urban Sodium in my gels bin and I felt that had just the right dirty, gritty and a little bit hell-ish look for Phil.

There are many ways to simulate firelight. Check out this blog by Shane Hurlbut about how he built an elaborate rig using gooseneck microphone mounts for The Greatest Game Ever Played. And look out for a forthcoming post from me on simulating candlelight when The First Musketeer is released.

Phil (Ross O'Hennessy) basks in the warm glow of the Cyclotron.

Phil (Ross O’Hennessy) basks in the warm glow of the Cyclotron.