Making a hat out of light...A Christmas Carol film costuming

Discussion in 'Costuming and Props' started by Jaren_Valnor, Sep 1, 2010.

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  1. Jaren_Valnor Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2004
    star 2
    I'm an indie filmmaker working on a modern day version of the Christmas Carol story. Although I've tweaked the baseline story, I'm trying to keep the depictions of the ghosts loyal to Dickens's description. Most filmmakers do this fairly well, but they take their liberties with the Ghost of Christmas Past. Here is Dickens's description:

    This is the part most people miss. At the link I've posted at the end of this post, you can see the full two or so pages of description and also a picture from a 1978 animated version that got most of it right. I'm wondering how to accomplish the light on his head in a live action costume without any type of computer effect if possible. Also, we will have access to electrical outlets at all filming sites, and the character will have a long white wig, so use of electrical wires well-concealed won't be an obstacle. Any ideas at all?

    http://www.cedmagic.com/featured/christmas-carol/1978-toon-past.html
  2. Koohii Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2003
    star 5
    Well, you could sculpt a 2-piece mold (crystal shaped outside, head shaped inside, and then use an epoxy AB mix. From there, use a drill with a router bit and dremmel to carve out the area for the light bulb in the center, and maybe a groove for the power cable. Then glue a layer of insulation and the hair/wig underneath that.
    Take a lesson from Mark Stricson (Turlough) from Doctor Who with the electric wires and glowing crystal. ;)
  3. Jaren_Valnor Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2004
    star 2
    Sorry, I'm a bit new at molds and that sort of thing and a Google search turned up nothing...what is an epoxy AB mix? Anyone have any other ideas? [not that I don't like this one, just trying to lay out all options.]
  4. Koohii Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2003
    star 5
    Well, try hunting down how-to sites on "Room Temperature Vulcanization".
    Short version is that AB mixes have two parts that are both liquid, but when you mix them together, you have a finite time before they react to each other and become solid.
    I have a resin mix that hardens in 3 minutes, and finishes curing in about an hour.
    The epoxy mix (which is clear) takes a lot longer.
    There are also poly-urethane mixes, but they are VERY unforgiving--if you're off by too much, then never dry and stay so sticky they can gum up your original.

    See if there's a TAP Plastics store near you (in the US. Not sure about other countries--maybe any place that specializes in plastics and sign making?). Some hobby stores also carry a limited variety of materials in either craft departments, or model trains.

    If you go to the Role playing boards: http://boards.theforce.net/games_rpg_miniatures/b10196/p1
    and find the thread on minis & molds, that might help.
  5. AramysStrael Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2004
    star 4
    I'm thinking you could probably make the crown our of some sort of white or transparent acrylic, or plexiglass (both of which are available at Tap Plastics) and do some molds of however you are designing the crown to look like, with the light sources inside the molds.

    In other words, make the headband out of a simple white plastic. Add your molded pieces to the headband, with the light sources (like white LEDs) inside them. You could run the wiring on the inside of the headband (think two layers - outer and inner, so that yo can run the wiring in between). Have one of the moldings be the battery box for the power source to your crown lights.

    For the molded pieces, themselves, I would frost them, somehow. Either use a transparent paint, paint on latex... something to mar the interior a bit (don't want the light sources to show). It will also give it a glowing effect when it is lit up.

    If I were doing the project, I would go with white LEDs, myself. They will light up really bright.

    Forgive the lack of quality artwork, but here is an illustration of what I mean. You will see that the illustration shows two pieces of the head band with the wiring sandwiched in between. Then you would add your crown pieces with the LEDs inside. One of the crown pieces could be your battery box that would house the source to power your LEDs in the crown.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/53675117@N05/4963677957/


    - Bill
  6. Koohii Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2003
    star 5
    Was thinking about this at lunch, and had to pick up something from the hardware store, and put together a completely different couple of ideas.

    Not sure what look you're going for, so I'll just describe roughly.

    First, you'll need to pick up a florescent light ballast diffuser. It's a piece of plastic that goes along the surface of industrial florescent light fixtures. You'll want a clear one. Whether you get the diamond texture or the grainy texture is up to you. Both have their merrits. Will probablly run you about $10-15 for a sheet that's 2 feet x 4 feet (plenty!), which is significantly cheaper than the molding materials and epoxy. Work with the nice, smooth backside for measuring, marking, and easier cutting.
    The Crown of Light: a series of boxes built from the plastic sheet. Put plumber's tape (nice & reflective) on the inside to shine the light out. Maybe an inside piece at an angle so the light reflexts up & out. 1-2 LEDs (probablly white unless you want color). Use superglue to hold it together. The glue will fog up the clear plastic slightly, but as was pointed out, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Test one box under the best guess of your studio lighting and see how it looks on camera before you build the whole thing.
    Skull cap: heat a 1'x1' or 18" square piece of the ballast plastic over a stove. When it starts to sag in the middle, press it down onto a basketball or similar sized sphere. Let it cool there. Turn off the stovetop. Build a piece of plain plastic skulpted to the size of the actor's head or similar. Cover it with the plumber's tape. Wire in a ring of LEDs shining up & out. Maybe two, depending on brightness. Build a ring of "trim" side about 1/2 inch tall. When the plastic that you put on the ball is cooled, trim out a cover piece. Test fit it. Test it out. When it looks good, glue it together. Sand down the sharper edges.
    You could even build bothe ideas if you wanted to.
    Not sure if this conveys what I'm trying to suggest. I can make drawings if you'd like to see them.
  7. Jaren_Valnor Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 19, 2004
    star 2
    Koohii, I kind of get what you're saying...if a drawing wouldn't be too much trouble, can I please see one?

    AramysStrael, I also like your idea...I may try building both just to see what works better. Sorry if this is a newbie question, but what's a good place to get good white LEDs?
  8. Koohii Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2003
    star 5
    Radio Shack probablly has them, but might be expensive.
    Fry's Electronics?
    check prices with different online stores like amazon or whatever.
  9. AramysStrael Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 9, 2004
    star 4
    Radio Shack's website has 5mm high brightness white LED 2-packs for $2 a set. 10mm high brightness single LEDs are $2.79 a pop.

    But remember, it isn't just the LEDs that you will need, it is the resistors, batter box, and other wiring components that you will need, too.

    If you went with those two-packs, you could probably get everything that you need at Radio Shack for $25, or less!

    - Bill
  10. Koohii Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2003
    star 5
    Sorry, my camera has been acting up, and scanner is broken. Will try to get that drawing up asap.
    Have you made any progress? Got pics?
  11. jedilucass Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 1, 2002
    star 2
    Mind you, I know next to nothing about molding plastics and what not, but I do know that you can get press button LED mini flashlights at places like the dollar tree for super cheap. We've got them scattered around our house for power outages. Super bright for something that fits in the palm of your hand, and are easy to take apart the components.

    Hope that helps some!
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