The popular commercial artist Thomas Kinkade billed himself as “Painter of Light.” Not one to back down from a challenge, a few members of our creative team figured out a way to one-up him.
“War Paint” is a Bonus Day project dreamed up by Jr. Designer of Graphic & Motion Sam W. A photographer, Sam had recently developed a desire to paint with light on a macro scale. Macro photography is a technique of extreme close-up photography that enlarges things far beyond their normal size — think of a raindrop on a grass blade or a fly’s hundred eyes.
They cut open a fiber optic cable to free the tiny, insulated glass strands that act as conduits for light. When pointed directly at the camera and moved quickly through various exposure-lengths, the strand produced dramatic squiggles and trace-around effects. However, the single strand proved difficult to manage, so the team rigged it to a wire nut and an LED powered by a 3-volt CR2032 lithium watch battery. This reconfigured light brush gave them greater control and thicker trails of light.
Now it was time to tell a war story. The team bought a bunch of tiny green plastic army men, a toy helicopter, a mini-footbridge and other play-battleground necessities. They set up various scenes and took sample shots to figure out what color of fill lighting they wanted to try. (Fill lighting is a type of diffuse light that helps illuminate unwanted shadows.) They experimented with various colors, eventually settling on red, which gave their photos an eerie glow.
Next, they used the squiggle technique to approximate the environmental elements of battle — explosions, machine gun spray, bullets whizzing by. The result? A dramatic photographic narrative brought to life with spectacular light effects.
This is part five of our featured Bonus Day projects from the first quarter of 2013 — check out Art Thieves, Best of Three, No Ellipses and MASH now. Bonus Day is an internal, agency-wide flash-exercise in innovation, where ad hoc teams of strategists, designers and engineers carry a passion project from conception to completion in a day.