Alien: Belly lights of the Nostromo

leading from

a) Idea in the middle of the night
Originally the Nostromo only had a few fibre optic lights underneath already built in, but one night Ridley had the idea that he would like the whole belly covered with them and Neil Swann got the job of getting it together.


b) Uneven lightbulbs
The strips of small lightbulbs were ordinary touch bulbs (these ones were known as 'grain of wheat' bulbs) and were soldered onto a coated copper wire (that also acted a +12v feed) The problem was that it was done in such a short time (before Ridley reappeared the next night after the main shooting.

Neil could not get a straight line up underneath the hull of the model because of all the "wiggeting" so he had to go around the obstacles as best as he could. That's why they looked irregular. They were meant to be rough lines, stuck on quickly as a temporary measure just to check whether they were OK before the final positioningHe spent the next day working on it as well until Ridley arrived after the days shoot  with the main unit at Shepperton.

modern 'grain of wheat' bulbs used by modellers

c) Aftermath
Ridley was doubtful about the results to the point that in time to come he would acknowledge that it drove him crazy but pressures to shoot were always in his mind and instant decisions were made to go with it. He was at least content though with the fact that they made the Nostromo model look large. This was shocking to other members of the special effects team because they looked like what they were, a load of quickly strung up irregular length of light bulbs and when Dennis Lowe would see the movie , he would always cringe.
 

d) The Floodlights
The floodlights beneath the ship in the film, Dennis Lowe understood them to be Tungsten Halogens consisting of 4" tungsten bulb with 6" reflector, also known as "Red Heads", they weren't too bad but you had to switch them off after the take to be safe with them.


a modern Red Head bulb
Source Quotes
  1. Ridley Scott: All this is just the camera, as the Nostromo sinks, it's just a dollie craning up in a smoke room. So none of this is CGl, it's all just literally shot. lt always bothered me that the lights underneath it, we couldn't get in a straight line. And that drove me crazy but eventually we had to shoot. But that model there is only four feet long, I think it looks pretty big. (Alien 20th Anniversary DVD Ridley Scott Commentary)
  2. Thedus Question for Jon, Dennis, and Simon: I was watching ALIEN the other night (was flicking through the channels and there it was) and a question came to mind.  What kind o lights were used for the giant flood lights under the Nostromo, and was the heat they generated a problem for the model?  i.e. - did you have to worry about materials softening due to the heat?(http://www.alienexperience.com/ 22nd July 2009)

    Dennis Lowe: When I built the lighting rig (that was never used) I got some real aircraft landing lights (from an ex government store near Heathrow) and they were so powerful you had to be really careful not to get anything in the way of the beam, they represented the four main landing thrusters.
    In the film I believe they were those 'Red Heads' as they were called - Tunsten Halogens consisting of 4" tunsten bulb with 6" reflector, they weren't too bad but you had to switch them off after the take to be safe with them.

    From my recollection those strips of small light bulbs were ordinary touch bulbs and were soldered onto a coated copper wire (that also acted as a +12v feed) and Neil Swan did most of the installation.
    It was one of those ideas that Ridley had in the night and next day Neil got the job of getting it together (panic stations!)
    The problem was that in such a short time (before Ridley reappeared the next night after the main shooting) Neil could not get a straight line up underneath the hull of the model because of all the 'wiggeting' so he had to go around the obstacles best he could. That's why they looked irregular.
    I can remember Ridley being doubtful at the time but pressures to shoot were always in his mind and instant decisions were made to go for it.
    I know for sure that the crew didn't like them either. (http://www.alienexperience.com/forum, July 23rd 2009)
  3. Dennis Lowe: Originally the Nostromo only had a few fibre optic lights underneath already built in but one night Ridley said that he would like the whole of the belly covered with them (in those days they were called 'grain of wheat' bulbs) so Neil Swann spent all night soldering rough lines of these bulbs and they were stuck on quickly as a temporary measure just to check whether they were OK before the final positioning.
    He spent the next day working on it as well until Ridley arrived after the days shoot with the main unit at Shepperton.

    He saw them and went with them as they were, we were totally shocked because they looked like what they were - a load of quickly strung up irregular length of bulbs and when you see the movie it shows, I always cringe when I see that scene.
    So there you go , he wasn't fool proof, he just made a bad decision, but at least he stayed with it.
    Those bad ideas didn't happen often though..... (http://www.prometheusforum.net/discussion May 2012)

No comments:

Post a Comment