Monday, April 25, 2011

Film Burns

The title is a bit of a misnomer but that is what many people call them. And we've been looking for some of these effects recently, haven't we? These types of "film burns" are actually the ends and bits of film that get overly exposed when you load or unload a roll of film or you get a light leak in your camera. But the film does not actually "burn". You can download a good collection on the link at the end of this post (yeah, make sure you read the post!)

Where it does burn, well, or it used to years ago, is when the film got stuck in the projector gate and due to the extreme heat of the carbon arc lamps that old projectors used, the film would simply melt to the horror of the projectionist and dismay of the audience who then had to wait until the film was spliced back again. I loved it as a kid when it happened because it was such a cool image and everybody shouted. The invention of carbon arc devices goes back to the early 19th century!

Their history is quite fascinating and many great names like Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison and many others come up frequently as a result of patent wars.

Some of the early movie lights (called Klieg Lights) were so intense and emitted such high ultraviolet radiation that actors needed to wear sunglasses on the set. Now you know where all those Hollywood sun-glassed crazies come from!.

Today, if you have gone to see an IMAX movie you have seen it thanks to powerful Xenon arc lamps that are in use in most large theater projection systems. These lamps are under such high pressure (25 atmospheres!) that projectionists are required to use body armor when they change them.

This video is a test by Brent Pierce who makes te "burn effects" available for free in his Pierce Productions blog, thanks Brent.

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