Early on in the film I wrap today, I was asked to program a Police Red/Blue effect. Like most effects, writing it is simple in concept: take a red palette and a blue palette and chase them across the selected lights. That’s what I had ready, and then my Director of Photography described a chase that was uniquely rhythmic with negative space between each step and we had a few seconds before we needed to roll. As many of you know, I am primarily an EOS programmer, and I had started out in an Absolute effect. All the solutions I could think of took too many steps. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and we rolled with what we had. The DP said it was fine, but I try not to be in the business of failing to provide what is asked of me, no matter how little the time. As often happens, a simple answer came to me the moment it was too late: a no-emitter palette.
Since so many of the lights we control these days are LED, I created a “Blackout” color palette with all LEDs set to zero, which effectively gives me a tool to insert negative space into any Absolute (or Step) effect. I tested it the next morning and was able to quickly create what the DP had wanted to see the night before. Lesson learned and a new tool now in the kit for next time.
After I thought of the Blackout palette, I remembered that I had done it once before, but in a very different way. I first created a Blackout color palette a long time ago on the advice of a friend (looking at you, Joe Mac) when I had some Martin 2000 profiles that had seen better days. Occasionally one would have a dimmer flag freeze open, so we would be in a serious ballad (literally every time) and the light would be marking itself for the next song with light streaming everywhere. In this case, take your CMY and CTO flags and set them to full and record your Blackout palette. Assert the palette on the fly for troubled lights while you frantically try to Global Reset them into functioning.
What programming solutions for weird problems have you made? Hit me in the comments.