Are these lights only used during Christmas? Think again. Every year, around Christmas time, these little colorful lights are everywhere, shining brightly. But no matter the season, I often take out one or two strings of these lights to use. They can be used in many places, the following are just a few examples.
Setting the scene
First and foremost, the most obvious use for these little Xmas bulbs is as a convenient backdrop, indicating to the audience that it is Christmas time. If you need to quickly set a scene for editing or a short film, this is a good shortcut.
Creating a party atmosphere
If you need to simulate a party scene with limited resources, the small Xmas bulbs in the foreground will be very useful. A close-up shot of some lights and blurred shoulders in the foreground is usually enough to achieve the desired effect. Additionally, if you place the lights very close to the lens and give them a slight shake, you can create an interesting subjective shot of a tipsy character.
Romantic close-up shots
In the background of a close-up shot, the small Xmas bulbs can create a lovely bokeh effect, especially suitable for romantic or magical scenes. Using a telephoto lens and a wide aperture will yield the best results.
You can use the small colored lights to create a completely abstract out-of-focus light background, perfect for actor lists, titles, or DVD menus. This is particularly useful for content with a holiday or entertainment theme.
You can use tape to attach Xmas bulbs to foam boards to create a soft light source.
Placing some colored lights on a black background can create a starry sky effect in low light conditions. The lights in this picture are actually the Xmas bulbs in our town, hung outside my apartment by the city council. This shot can be used as a subjective shot of a character looking up at the night sky.
Small Xmas bulbs can represent distant city lights. I have done this in indoor night scenes shot during the day. We covered the windows with black curtains and hung small Xmas bulbs inside to represent distant city lights.
You can also use small Xmas bulbs to create lens flares, not flashes, but soft lights that can enhance shadows and reduce overall contrast. Simply use tape to attach a circle of colored lights around the lens or the flag, and carefully use these lights to illuminate foreground elements without letting the bulbs enter the frame. This is a fun little trick that can create dreamy scenes with classic fuzzy edges.