View Full Version : Forrest Lighting

07-29-2007, 09:03 AM
I was wanting some suggestions for lighting a forrest scene. Is it best to light from the top or from the ground?

Jim Warfield
07-29-2007, 09:21 AM
I would keep my options open to do both depending upon what you are trying to accomplish in a given area.
Illuminating a footpath for customers shine lights down to allow them to see where they are stepping. Illuminate upward to theatrically highlight a tree or display object.
Lights pointing up along a path can also temporarilly blind people but then maybe sometimes this is a good thing to hide the "Monster", allowing it to appear very close to them.
Once you think it is all done and installed watch for changing situations of leaves leaving and foilage deteriorating which could drastically change the whole look for you.
I have had so many small low voltage light bulbs removed from their sockets and often left laying on the ground near the light and raccoons seem to be the culprits!
Screws and duct tape have slowed this down alot but it makes it much more of a chore to change burnt out bulbs. (It HAS to be raccoons, I would have this happen mere minutes after I would inspect the lighting and I am very confident that no human being was getting in and out of the backyard, at least not this quickly!)

07-29-2007, 02:01 PM
hey cooperfan, usually with any outdoor/forest kind of attraction i like to dimly light from above,maybe a blue,green or even mixed to give the effect of low moonlight. and then i'd accent diffrent objects/props from below with a pin spot. looks good in graveyard scenes especially. and you could even put the above light in a tree maybe to cast the light through the branches. this looks nice with some light fog too! what kind of scene are you setting up?

- steve

07-29-2007, 09:36 PM
It's actually indoors. we have a graveyard and were adding a forrest after the graveyard . where we will have a warewolf running arround. we made the trees out of chicken wire wrapped in drop cloths and coated them with elmers glue. then we used cammo netting for the canopy.

07-29-2007, 10:57 PM
If uplighting your trees (which can be a great effect) be careful not to light the ceiling of your building... this blows the illusion that we are suposed ot be 'outdoors'. Concealing your light sources is also a good idea... if the audience can't see where the light is coming from, they're less likely to focus on it - and they'll focus more on your scene and scare. I tend to focus my lights away from the audience, down their intended path. In some situations, slightly blinding your patron (now, let's not burn out a retina!) with a visible light source works well if you need to conceal an actor or device that needs to come out of nowhere.

08-02-2007, 10:28 AM
your best bet is blue-ish spotlights from the ground in a 45 angle or wider. That creates a forest ideal for lurking psychos and killers (freddy, jason, leatherface... etc) If you want the kind of forest that comes with zombies, living dead, ghosts and ghouls You can also use orange, yellow or green light from the ground and blue light on the ceiling, which creates a cool light contrast and adds dimention to the scene.
*Trick: to hide the ceiling from the light by painting it with black mate paint, or using a black piece of mate fabric, you can stapple it to the ceiling, if you have more budget create a wooden frame with beams every 2 feet to hold the fabric.*

You can also print a vinyl canvas with a sky and light it with hidden fluorescent light tubes, that will give you a 'sky' illusion, just go to where you print your signs and ask about the cheapper printing. In order for this to work you need to have a high ceiling, otherwise, since this are printed in 30 to 60 DPI resolutions people will notice the grain of the print.

Aditional light tricks?
Use lightings.
With a couple of strobes placed in the background or behind the trees. Three or four flashes per light, then program a tape to play the sound few seconds later, I am sure that there are already machines that do that.

Enhace your 'outdoor' illusion.
Hide fluorescent light tubes behind the sceneography near a wall to create an 'horizon' illusion.
Now, here is the actual trick that makes this illusion so cool: the wall must be painted with a contrastant color and the color of the light tube must be according to the time of the day you want your scene.
For example, if you want a night you use dimmed blue light and your wall must be painted with mate dark blue paint and the upper part of the wall must be degraded to black.

08-02-2007, 02:42 PM
Hide fluorescent light tubes behind the sceneography near a wall to create an 'horizon' illusion.

Sounds like a very cool idea. How far away from the viewers does the lit wall have to be for this illusion to work?

08-02-2007, 07:39 PM
Sounds like a very cool idea. How far away from the viewers does the lit wall have to be for this illusion to work?

It'll work just fine since the 6 ft, but as far as you can get it the better. Nevertheless, what you actually need to understand is that the trick isn't how far of the viewer it must be, cause other factors may destroy the illusion before the distance between the thing and the viewer.
If it is to deep inside the the sceneography, the light will 'die' before it reaches the desired level and achieve the desired effect, if it is too up it will be visible for the viewers and it will kill the illusion.
If the wall and sceneography are too close it may overheat and cause catastrophic failures (fire among them) however if the sceneography and wall are too far the light enclosure isn't enough and the light just light the ditch. This thing works under the radiosity principle, that is that the light is reflected off the surrounding surfaces near to the lightsource and re-directed upwards to the wall. A sheet of angled shinny metal in the part of the sceneography facing the wall will work, but a white mate painted surface works just as fine (this one is particularily easier to work with if you have hills in your forest).
Another factor you must pay attention to is the power of the light source: if it too hard it will light the room, if it is too weak it won't light anything. For this purpose I'd recoment neon, but it is expensive, so if you find anything cheaper with the same light strenght use it.
Also, make sure you simulate good the perspective, remember, your horizon may be 6 or seven feet away from the viewer, but the illusion you are trying to make says the horizon is so far far away; the closer the objects are to the wall, the smaller and darker they must be (do not try this if you don't have a respectable distance between the viewer and the small objects) 1/8 of scale is perfect for a haunt room. Also, make sure the edges of your sceneography are bent towards the trench in a progressive angle or curve (at least 11 inches or more of inclination towards the wall and 5 inches downwards)

To achieve a higher level of realism you can also decorate the painted portion of the wall (remember, degrade the paint from the lighter tone to black) clouds, buildings, cars, tombstones and other stuff are okay, but if you want complex objects like a tree better use miniatures. If you gonna paint clouds, you can invade in a subtle way the black portion of your wall, but don't over do it. Altho this sky effect isn't good to use with clouds
Want stars? use them on the ceiling, not the wall, as it may interfer with the illusion. Use leds behind the fabric I told you in the beginning, the fabric covers perfectly the wires and other messes you may do trying to light up your scene/room, however, if you use wires and fabric, make sure you treat the fabric with fire retardant (you don't want that the fabric drip fire over your patrons) If your sky needs stars on the wall, paint the sky on a canvas and glue the led-stars in the back so the light comes out through holes.
Finally, a brief advise on wall colors and lighting: if you want a dawn, for example, use light blue wall, use yellow or orange light with that and you will achieve a cool teatrical effect.
For something simplier, you can use navy blue on the wall and white light, or a lighter shade of blue and yellow light, the combinations are virtually endless and you can simulate basically every daylight situation combining the wall and light colors.

This fake sky effect can be achieved also with a dome, to create the illusion of an opening on the ceiling or an alley... create a dome, place it over the walls and hide the lights above the walls facing the dome and it's done. This is more compatible with with the clouds than the wall technique.

08-04-2007, 03:58 PM
Sounds like somebody has some stage lighting experience. That is excellent! Lighting is a subject that does not come up enough on this messagae board. I often see people talk about what kind of lights to use, but not how to use them effectively.
Thanks for the info.!

08-04-2007, 07:12 PM
Actually the one with the lighting experience is my mother, she is a professional interior designer and I learned some stuff from her, plus my knowledge in optics, theatrical lighting, phisics and graphic design, I could be very helpful in haunt design sometimes LOL

If you want to know more about lighting just ask, it's very fun to anwer this questions, cause when sometimes I don't know anything I look it up and it helps me a lot to learn a lot of new stuff and even english. When I was writting those 'gospel-long' answers upthere I didn't know some words so I actually am a few words richer now LOL ;)