Congratulations to Light Painters Satwik Sharma, Ankur Bansal, Sanchit Kapur, Shobhit Tiwari, Jeswin Rebello and Arun Pandit for now holding the official Guinness World Record of 900 Light Painted Orbs in a single exposure as seen in the above image!
First let me give a little back story on the Light Painting Guinness World Record… The quest to get a Light Painting World Record all started back in 2011 with Andrew Wells when he single handily created 100 Orbs in a single image in his Century of Light Orbs Project. Andrew should have had the first ever Light Painting World record in the Guinness Book back in 2011 however he didn’t have all of the documentation that Guinness requires. Andrew might not have made the book because of technicality but he was the first. Then in 2014 a group of Light Painters (myself included) set out to break Andrew’s record and to “officially” get the first Light Painting Guinness World Record in The Big Book! Together the East Coast Light Painters created 200 Orbs in a single image. Now the record has been shattered with 900 Orbs in a single image from a group of 6 Light Painters from India! The Indian Light Painters created 900 orbs in a single exposure using a very smart approach and some good old DIY Light Painting innovation, read on for all the details from group member Dr. Satwik Sharma!
LPP ∇ Congratulation on being the new Guinness World Record holder for the most Light Painted Orb in a Single Photograph! Can you tell me who all were involved in creating the record?
LPP ∇ How many orbs did you create in the record breaking image?
SS ∇ In the record breaking image we made 900 orbs. Though we did create a second image that day, and in that we made about 1450 orbs. But sadly, both the cameras recording the video, were interrupted mid-way, so we couldnt submit the footage from it to Guinness.
LPP ∇ How many attempts did it take?
SS ∇ This was our second attempt. In our first attempt we managed close to 600 orbs (594 to be precise). But me, along with a couple of team mates, were not satisfied with the pictures we got. So thought of making the attempt again. And with a new attempt, the target number of orbs was also increased to a minimum of 900. In our second attempt we did a trial run first, and made 210 orbs in that trial run. Adjusting the exposure we made the final run, and succeeded in making 900 orbs. In the second attempt the number was raised to 1500. Sadly, the batteries started to run out, by the end of the second attempt bringing down the number of orbs to about 1450. So we abandoned the third attempt.
LPP ∇ I know that you had tried to break the record once before in a different way. Can you tell me about that experience?
SS ∇ To be frankly speaking, our first attempt was heavily influenced by the ideas of the East Coast Light Painters World Record. So we tried replicating those tools, and those methods. And thankfully, we had the help of my Alma Mater, Sainik School, Kunjpura. We gave a crash course of light painting and making orbs to about 100 students over there (or as much as we can teach in an hour). After dinner, we had them gathered at the school grounds, and we did our attempt. The most amazing thing about this failed (partially) attempt was the enthusiasm and energy of the students. They seemed to be even more eager to break the record than we were. I still remember what one of them said to me after the attempt “Bro, This was an awesome experience! Why don’t you come back in couple of months with more preparation, and we will make a record of 2000 orbs” It still gives me the goosebumps. That was the level of enthusiasm I saw in the eyes of the students. And it is something, I would love to see again and again. To teach them the joys of waving lights in the dark, and see those lights magically form Art.
LPP ∇ Thats really cool I would say that was a success just for the experience! The idea of making the orbs smaller was a really smart way to go about breaking the record how was the idea of making the miniature light orbs introduced?
SS ∇ After that attempt, we started analysing the shortcomings. Where did we go wrong, and how can we improve upon them. One thing was sure, the way we had gone about with the first attempt, that way was good for only about 300-400 orbs. Because as the number or orbs start to increase, the orbs at the back start to become less distinguishable from the nearby orbs. As I was adamant on creating a minimum of 500 orbs, we needed an elevated platform of about 150 feet to overlook a big flat surface, to get the proper angle. But, as we could not find any place like that, we moved to the next logical choice. Decrease the size of the orbs. The radical idea of reducing the size of the orbs was proposed by Ankur Bansal, and it was readily accepted by the group. But, as we had never seen a tool which would create miniaturized orbs, let alone create more than 500, it presented a new set of problems. So after brainstorming for a couple of days, we came up with the design of the tool, and started working on it.
LPP ∇ Can you tell me a little more about the tool you guys built, it looks like a piece of DIY Light Painting genius… was it computer controlled, hand controlled, or a bit of both?
SS ∇ From the outset, we had planned to make the attempts with as much frugal resources as we can. For the two attempts we made, our total expenditure did not cross the $200 mark (excluding the air tickets, ofcourse). With such a shoe-string budget, using a computer controlled tool, was out of question. Also, it was out of the area of our expertise too. Our tool was made of wood, PVC, and simple DC motors. And was controlled manually only.
LPP ∇ So who did what in the group, how many people did it take to operate the orb tool and how long did each orb take to make?
SS ∇ Out of the six of us, Me, Shobhit and Jeswin, were handling the cameras. I was on the highest perch, while Jeswin was on the other platform. Shobhit was on the ground, clicking pics and making video for use in the video presentation. Ankur, Sanchit and Arun were involved in manually making the orbs and moving the tool in unison. The tool made 30 orbs at a time, in about 30 secs. It also needed to be moved to the next marked location, after making a row of orbs. We made a total of 30 rows of light orbs.
LPP ∇ What was the most difficult part of the process?
SS ∇ The most difficult part of the process was the complete lack of knowledge on how to go about it. We would create one tool, build it up from scratch, test it, and after finding one fault or the other, junk it. Also wiring up the whole tool was a mess. DC motors we got our hands on were not standardised. One would run faster than the other, the other would be slower. It was a complete nightmare. And above all, we had no mechanism whatsoever to control the speed. So it was just a game of mix and match, trying all sorts of combinations to get the motors running at optimal speeds. On top of that we made the mistake of using aluminium core wires. Aluminium having higher resistance than copper, would make the matters even worse. The current and voltages just seemed to vary at every single point.
LPP ∇ I know you needed to have a high angle to capture all the orbs how was the location selected?
SS ∇ By the time we started looking for a location for our second attempt, we had decided on miniaturizing the orbs. So we just needed a flat surface with some kind of platform with a minimum height of 25 feet. We found a flat ground, with double-storey houses on three sides giving us a height of about 35 feet on one side and about 20 feet on the other. That was sufficient for our attempt, and few test pictures from these vantage points just proved it.
LPP ∇ How long was the exposure for the final image?
SS ∇ The exposure of the final image was 830 seconds.
LPP ∇ What was the best part of the experience?
SS ∇ The best part of the experience. Now that is a difficult one. In our first attempt it was definitely the smiles on the faces of the students. In the second it was the bonhomie developed between people from different distant parts of India, who had gathered in a small town in North India, with one goal in mind. 900 ORBS!! (or more)
LPP ∇ Thank you for taking time to answer these questions and Congratulation again! You guys crushed the record! I guess the East Coast Light Painters better get to work 🙂
SS ∇ Thank You.