Sometimes an experimental idea turns out to be a stunning success. This was something like that.
It’s been a long, long time since title sequences were made in camera, by optically projecting the titles frame by frame on film. It’s all digitally made now. Stranger Things, Netflix’s 80’s themed series has taken a cue from the 80’s not only on the content of the show, but also on how its titles were made.
The logo in the opening is not CGIed at all, it is actually shot in camera and then manipulated in a computer.
Not so long ago, the concept of computerized massive scenes was not even conceived yet and effects studios used different methods to “create” sets bigger than can possibly fit in a studio. One way of doing it was hand painting a matte glass with a set and using it around the shot action. One of the most famous effects studio: Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) released a movie showing how they used Matte glass and hand painted sets to create Indiana Jones and the first chapters of Star Wars. The amount of work and planning to make one of those matte shot was laborious almost beyond possible.
A Light Blaster is a device that projects slides or transparencies onto walls and models. There is a commercial Light Blaster version for small strobes out there and it does have a studio adapter. But I, as always, prefer to go the DIY route 🙂
Though this article will have a lot of build info, the reason I made this is because I had a photo in mind and wanted to create it. Of course that once the tool is built, it pushes me to use it in creative ways.
Having seen the Light Blaster image projector, I wanted to know if I could build myself. Kinda out of pure curiosity. I wanted to know, is building a Light Blaster would be a task I can handle.
The main idea was to mimic the Light Blaster functionality and create a slide projector that could project 35mm slides with strobe and an old lens.
We are big fans of Spiffy Gear’s Light Blaster and have seen quite a few creative uses of it over the time. From jewels photography & commercial work through light graffiti , and even a wedding proposal. But studio shooters were always complaining about the need to use hot shoe Strobes with the system.
Today, the Light Blaster gets a new add on – a Universal Studio Strobe Adapter:
Proposing is stressful, isn’t it. I mean, forget about the yes/no answer. Just making a decent proposal could be a killer project of its own. Photographer Marvin Lewis has been taking a photo a year for him and his girlfriend Amanda Marie friendship universities. Each year a different photo (you can check the below), but for the eighth, anniversary he decided to pop the big one, and so invited Amanda into the usual studio session.
Little did she know that Marvin placed a Light Blaster mounted with a Marry Me slide that she could not see until the photo was actually taken. (The Light Blaster only projects a slide when the camera clicks, when the strobe inside of it goes off).
Imagine her surprise when she walked up to the LCD to chimp at the photo, while Marvin kneeling behind her holding a ring.
I asked Marvin about this special day and this is what he told me:
I was walking around the mall the other day and I saw the das made for Adidas, they totally blew my mind and I really wanted to try and figure out how they were made. In this tutorial I am going to take you through the process it takes to create a similar effect.
We have talked quite a bit about projections and their applications in this blog, but I don’t think we have ever mentioned one of its most artistic uses: mapping. Mapping means that you build the projection based on a scan of an object so it seems as if the projection is part of real life (as opposed to the examples above which only exist in a photo).
Nobumichi Asai and the team at Omote took this concept to a whole new level by doing real-time face tracking & projection mapping on a live model. This actually enables Asai to create ever-changing digital makeup in a split of a second.
There is not much information on this online, but I assume the technology may be limited to where you can easily project onto a model’s face, so it probably would not work with moving people yet, but I would not be surprised if we see that coming up as projectors get smaller and more portable.
[omote / real-time face tracking & projection mapping | h/t Stefan]