Single Plate Effects
This was a Pig Light Show specialty and not too often used (Special Effects are only effective when they’re special!). It consisted of a small plate with black oil through which one dragged a finger which provided an effect like a moving flashlight in a dark room, complete with a bit of an after image as the oil refilled the lines. It gave clear lines which would show through almost anything else on the screen filling in the black areas. It was very effective with a long lensed overhead bouncing off a mirror wheel, resulting in many repeated images, or in a full screen set up where the streaks were large, long and pronounced.
The Spin Plate was sometimes used on its own, either with a mat or full screen, but was perhaps most effective with some reflective, like a mirror or mylar wheel (either matted or full stage...overhead stage as opposed to full screen). It was usually done with a smaller plate, preferably one with a very concave cross-section, directly on the overhead stage. If a mat was used another slightly larger plate was needed between as a small amount of water was usually used to lubricate the plate’s bottom for hand spinning. Into this plate would be dripped or drizzled varied colored bands, tendrils, dots or patches of colored oil (heavy mineral oil) or colored glycerine. Then the plate would be spun slowly forward or backward as the mood demanded. Often we would vary back and forth between the two, sometimes even placing two projections above one another. These did not have the ceaseless, mechanical feel of a motorized rotator and were fun to do.
This plate was a well of clear water with a thin layer of mineral oil on top (usually light mineral oil or, my preference, heavy oil which was thinned in preparation with the hair dryer which would then be used to blow the color through later). When dimmed up – almost always full screen – a tendril of color was being blown across the white field. It was then manipulated across, around, fast, slow, whatever the artist chose, with more or new color being added as desired. The hair dryer used was always of the canister type (largely to keep the electrics away from the liquid, but also because they usually blew more gently, much to be preferred...sorry Tim). This was a great choice when a long instrumental passage was expected, or when we wanted a projection to build over time, sometimes even across multiple songs (or perhaps to give others a break or to allow them to prepare something for a later piece). It was an effect which could be drawn out without boring the audience. PLS often turned it into a Flare Plate or a Spritz Plate when the colors darkened beyond use as a Blow Plate.
Spritz Plate/Flare Plate:
These were for all intents the same, it was just the means of making the effect which differed...and sometimes, no most of the time, were used concurrently, spray bottle in one hand, hair dryer in the other. It was made like the Blow Plate but with a thin layer of black oil instead of clear. One then used the hair dryer to blow holes in the oil, allowing the white light to flare through. For the Spritz Plate a light mist, a spritz, of alcohol would be sprayed on the oil. The reaction when it worked through to the water created a rippling amoeba to appear in white against a black background. Often, as with many of the high contrast effects. it would be used to cut through projections already playing on the screen. And most often both techniques would be used.
A rectangle of glass as from a picture frame--the two long sides and one short, as the top, edged with a large bead of silicone seal and the other edge beaded on the opposite side of the glass like a lip--was laid across the overhead stage with the lip hanging over the end over a plastic bread container (used as a waste collector). The “top” was held up into a slight incline by something about the thickness of a pencil or two (or a few as needed). First a sheet of clear water was sprayed down the glass to test the surface and the collector and to lubricate it. Then when lit colored oil, water, alcohol or glycerine was dripped or sprayed on and allowed to run down the plate causing washes of color and bubbles and whatever to run down the screen. The mixes of colored liquids, their viscosities and chemical properties causing interesting movement, were fun to watch and create and could last for a long while...at least until the waste trough filled. This was usually done full screen and if set up one way allowed liquid to run from the top of the projection screen to the bottom. Set up the other way, things ran up the screen...strangely disconcerting.
This plate was dependent on the homemade overheads we constructed along the guidelines of Joshua’s, using an airplane landing light for a light source and a 10” heat resistant lens from an ellipsoidal spotlight. The plate is primed with a layer of clear, light mineral oil and heats as the light dims up. Drops of colored oil are added and the convection currents in the clear oil cause the movement. Focusing the projector’s objective lens system onto the top of the liquid causes a movement from the center outward while focusing on the bottom of the plate’s liquid causes a rush toward the center.
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