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Stop Motion Lighting
Lightning flashes and a scene is illuminated, it flashes again, and again, each moment a new frame in a story played out in silhouette. It may be a grisly murder, it may be a fight scene, but whatever it is we only see it in stills as a light flicks on and off.

Usually involves strobes or lightning but can be slower. Can be an artistic form of censorship, for example if a murder is taking place we might only see tiny fragments of it.

Related to Lightning Reveal, Dramatic Thunder, Light-Flicker Teleportation, and possibly Thunder Shock.


    open/close all folders 

  • Done beautifully in book three of Bone when Fone Bone, Thorn and Gran'ma Ben are on the run from the rat creatures in the middle of a storm. Lighting flashes light up the otherwise pitch black backgrounds, giving brief glimpses of the rat creature horde closing in, as well as when the Red Dragon appears and chases them away.



    Tabletop RPG 
  • Dungeons & Dragons module I10 Ravenloft II The House on Gryphon Hill. At the conclusion of the adventure the PCs are desperately trying to stop the Creature from achieving his goal. They are forced to follow it through a thunderstorm, where the only illumination is from strokes of lightning. Each flash reveals a specific scene.

  • Caught, by David Parson's Dance Company. This one counts as a crowning moment of awesome for this trope.

  • In Smallville, Checkmate, there is an epic one when Clark breaks down the doors of a chamber where Chloe is Bound and Gagged, beat up the agents and catch a bullet in front of Chloe's face while the scene flashes due to a power breach.
  • In the Family Guy eposode "Ready, Willing And Disabled": while fighting during the night over the money, Meg, Chris and Stewie are occasionally seen only while there's lightning.
    • And while most of the flashes show them fighting one reveals them dressed and posing for an "old timey" photo
  • At least one scene in the Doctor Who episode "Blink" - we never see the Weeping angels actually move.
    • The Doctor Who episode "Flesh and Stone", again featuring the Weeping Angels, had the gunshots-in-a-dark-room version.
  • Due South featured a gunfight in a dark hallway during the series finale. The only time the characters could be seen was when they were illuminated by one of the (many) gunshots.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • On one Looney Tunes short, Sylvester makes a formula for making a Personal Raincloud to use on the dog guarding Tweety. But then he spills it and the room is darkened by the resulting cloud. Outside, the windows are dark, but the flashes of lightning occasionally show a fleeing Sylvester.
  • Several episodes of The Simpsons, including one where (in a flashback) we see teenagers installing a strobe into the back of their car. They turn it on and dance to music - the rest of the scene is shown as a series of stills as the light comes on and off.
  • One episode of The Tick had The Deadly Bulb attack in darkness, where we only saw several freeze-framed images when his lightbulb-head flashed in the darkness.

    Real Life 
  • Fireflies.
  • A strobe light easily demonstrates this. If you can't get one, blinking your eyes really fast while watching someone move is a reasonable simulation, but you shouldn't do it too long.

Starring Special EffectsSpectacleStreaming Stars
Step into the Blinding FightLighting TropesTen-Second Flashlight
Scenery CensorCensorship TropesThong of Shielding
Spear CarrierUniversal TropesTake Our Word for It

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