Creating Explosions

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  04 April 2005
Creating Explosions

I am currently working on a documentary project that involves supernatural acts. We are trying to reinact a scene in which a restless spirit is loosed in an antique store and according to the eyewitness all the lights exploded. What is the best and safest way to explode flourescent lights. I was initially thinking a squib on the inside, but that would let out the gas, and render the lights inop. Overloading them presents a greater risk since it involves tinkering with electricity. My Main thought is Place a squib or charge on the out side on top of the light out of view. This has the potential to be a really neat scene and would be alot of fun to shoot.
  04 April 2005
Hi there,

I can't help you with your question but maybe this link can. Chances are pretty good to get an answer if you post your question there.

Hope it helps.

  04 April 2005
First question I have, is have you ever popped a 4 foot flourescent bulb before? I have broken my fair share of them with balls and hockey sticks when I was younger, let me tell you that it is a HUGE MESS and that glass is very fine. Safety would be my number one concern.

Placing a explosive device near these bulbs, hmm, that's tricky, because then on top of what a bulb like this does anyway, blowing that stuff around even more just makes it less safe.

I'll give you my idea on what I would do. I would setup a suspended bulb infront of black, posisition 1 or 2 cameras to get close to the angles used in your shot, say one at an angle, the other just straight on. take a low power bbgun or one that you can control the power with a pump, it doesn't take much to blow those bulbs up. then shoot the bulb where you want it to pop. film that, then composist that into your shots. shoot your main footage, then remove the bulbs, shoot the same shots, then do a transistion with the effects footage.

and have a shop vac to clean up the mess, caues it's going to go EVERYWHERE.

if you want more of an EXPLOSIVE effect, you could just use, hmmm, I would say sugar would have a glass like effect with light sparkle. just put some on a black card and blow it toward the camera, or flour infront of black, that would give you a gaseous smoke effect.

I'm not sure how the light will work if it's charged or not (powered or not powered), so I would try just hanging the bulb from wires at first. that way you don't have to match up the bulb with any sockets.

for me, if I had to do more than a few bulbs, I would rather film once, clean up once, sit in my chair, change perspectives of the footage, and comp the effects on my computer, than try to blow up the bulbs on set (taking a chance is doesn't all work) and have to clean up that mess.
michael JR.

FXWars!CarCrash! Entry #8
  04 April 2005
Thankyou for both of your posts. is in itself a very useful website.

We havent really talked about how we are going to do that scene(If at all). We are still in the pre-production phase and I am trying to get all my duck in a row before we begin principal.

I can remember from my youth cracking and shattering a few bulbs, and the mess was enormous. As for the safety factor, I may either shoot it green or leave actors out completely.

Thanks again
  04 April 2005
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