RADlite on Starfinder

Projected Image Digital showcased a RADlite visual manipulation system with television lighting director Will Charles, who utilised it in a new and innovative way on the Carlton TV series “Starfinder”.

The show, shot at Black Island Studios, Park Royal, north London for transmission transmittion as a series this Autumn, is produced by Justin Scroggie and features a spectacular set designed by Richard Drew.

“Starfinder” is a children’s games programme, set on a space station, with elements from both Crystal Maze and Big Brother. Each episode sees four ‘astronauts’, aged 12 – 14, who won their places via the internet, engage in a series of games, and battle for popularity with the viewers who vote them on or off the space station.

The simulator part of the programme – where the contestants whiz through space, playing games, in their special vehicles – is recorded in a ‘green screen’ environment, with ‘virtual’ backgrounds and foregrounds (front and rear views of the inside/outside of the simulator) dropped in later for final transmission.

Whilst piloting the simulator, the astronauts view outside space through a monitor screen, and also play the games on the screen. To make this shot as realistic as possible, Charles wanted to have a screen reflection and a feeling of movement running across their faces – which is where the RADlite came in.

He went the RADlite route (as opposed to conventional video) because he wanted this element to be under the control of a lighting desk, and to be able to use it in similar fashion to a key light-source. “It’s been absolutely invaluable” he says.

Having heard about the system, Charles saw had a RADlite demonstration from Projected Image’s David March at their HQ in Three Mills Island. It was exactly what they needed, so he sourced the PC-based system for the two week duration of the programme shoot from Projected Image Digital.

They fixed a Sanyo video projector to the simulator that beamed the RADlite images onto exactly the right place on the contestant’s face. The source material was a series of special Starfinder computer video games. Depending on how each astronaut ‘flew’ the game, all their movements were recorded, and then recreated and replayed around the simulator – complete with RADlite impressions on the face, and the backgrounds dropped in on screen – for the finished programme.

Photo caption: Left to right Dave Bishop, Will Charles and Russ Grubiak

Will Charles’s lighting operators were Russ Grubiak (automated) and David Bishop (generics and RADlite). They used two WholeHog II consoles supplied, along with the rest of the lighting equipment and crew, by top TV lighting rental company AFM.

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