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Most useful light control equipment?

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Larry WattsMost useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 9:08:32 pm

I've seen a number of posts concerning light kits and individual lights, but not as much about particular scrims, reflectors, butterflies etc.

So I'd like to ask for people to submit their most useful light control tools including brands and sizes if possible.

I'm putting together a custom lighting kit, but at the same time need to get accessories for bounce and diffusion.

This is for outdoor cinematic television shoots.

Thanks!

Larry



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Todd TerryRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 9:32:39 pm

We have a decent lighting and grip arsenal... but my most useful lighting control tool?....

My top two things on the truck are super cheap and super easy...

4x4 white foamcore bounce card. Easy, cheap, versatile, and in my opinion much prettier bounced lighting than any commercial or "pop up" reflectors. We have bunches of pop-ups, but never even unpack them if we have 4x4s around. Use 'em until they get ratty, then throw 'em away.

Easy to prop up, tape up, or mount almost anywhere in any position quickly with just a C-stand, grip head, and quacker clamp. We usually order 4'x8' sheets from a local art supply store and cut them in half to make 4x4s. You can also score a 4x4 and fold it in half for easier travel/packing (put gaffer tape on the "hinge" for longer life). If you can get it, get white on one side and black on the other for a negative fill when you need it.

My second most useful?... homemade 4x4 diffusers. We make them out of vinyl shower curtain material from the fabric store. Actually this is the stuff...

http://www.hancockfabrics.com/Clear-Vinyl-Frosty-width-004-Vinyl---Home-Dec...

Use it as diffusion and it gives a nice look about like Lee 250, or maybe slightly more diffuse. Dirt cheap at three bucks a yard. Put it in a 4x4 Hollywood frame for beautiful diffusion for sunlight with really nice soft shadows but almost no loss of punch. Or hit exterior talent with a 1200w HMI through it for a very nice but soft kick (and yes, even though it is vinyl we put it in front of HMIs all the time and never had it even begin to melt). We cut it into 4x4 squares, hem it with gaffer tape all around, and put elastic loops on the corners. Fold or wad it up and stick it in your rags bag and it bounces right back. When I first started using these my intention was to get a couple of shoots out of them and then throw them away since they are so cheap... but we have some that have been in play for years now.

My two (cheap) cents...

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Rick WiseRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 12, 2013 at 11:57:04 pm

Todd, the diffusion looks terrific. I've been sending my students to Home Depot for shower curtain liners, but this looks to be even better. Thanks!

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Mark SuszkoRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 1:07:43 am

Two words:

Black Wrap.


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Todd TerryRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 13, 2013 at 1:11:21 am

Thanks Rick... yeah this fabric-store stuff is great. I found it and just bought it on a lark several years ago, and keep going back for it. Give it a try.

I do wish it was a bit wider so you could make a 6x6... but you can get it in any length so you could make one bigger with a seam if you wanted.

As I said I usually use it in 4x frames, but I did drill holes in the barn-doors ring of one of my HMIs to make sort of a half-assed speed ring... so I can put some salvaged softbox rods in it to hold the silk (can you call it silk if it is vinyl?).

You can see that in the top pic in the trio of pictures on this page...

http://fantasticplastic.com/portfolio/news081.html

...and unbelievably, no it doesn't melt or even get warm (not that I would leave it unattended).



By the way the same store, in the same department sells this window-tint film, also dirt cheap...

http://search.hancockfabrics.com/browse?Dy=1&Nty=1&N=0&Ntk=Primary&Ntx=mode...

...that is perfect ND for big windows (self-cling, too). I'd estimate it to be about a .9 ND. I've never put a meter on it, but looks about 3 stops to my eyeballs.

Would love to hear others' favorite light-mod tools as well...

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Craig AlanRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 15, 2013 at 6:38:31 pm

[Todd Terry] "put elastic loops on the corners"

what do you use for these and how to attach? Got a picture? I have some frames around that I could use and this is way cheaper than the commercial versions and bounces right back sounds great.

I agree on the foamcore for bounce. Got this large sheet of it and cut it to size as needed.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Todd TerryRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 15, 2013 at 7:20:21 pm

On location and don't have that gear with me... but easy to describe. Just four short pieces of 1" black elastic, one attached at each corner. Each piece crosses each corner about 4" from the "point" so you just slip it over the corner of a frame. Exactly like the elastic corners on a pro rag from Matthews, etc.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Craig AlanRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 15, 2013 at 8:03:33 pm

how do you attach elastic to vinyl? Gaffer tape? Will this hold when stretched tight over the frame? I used to have a grommet kit - wonder if that would work?

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Todd TerryRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 15, 2013 at 8:12:43 pm

I sort of "hem" the edge of the vinyl all around with gaffer tape (one strip, folded over). Then the elastic was taped on. If I recall (it's been years) I think I put a dab of hot glue in there to give it some extra hold. They've never come off.

As I said I don't have the DIY versions with me, but do have some larger "real" Matthews silks with me and my DIY corners are arranged basically just like theirs, took a quick cell phone shot...





And I do have one or two that I put grommets on (with ties) like you suggested. But I quickly found that was overkill on a 4x4 and that the corners were enough, so I didn't put grommets in the subsequent ones.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Todd TerryRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 15, 2013 at 8:25:27 pm

Here's another DIY thing with the vinyl that I should have mentioned but forgot about til I just ran across it in the truck.

We have several pop-up silks as well as reflectors, but never found a pop-up silk that had a nice translucent quality that I liked.

So I took an old 52" pop-up Photoflex reflector that we had retired (it had lost most of its silver). I cut a big circle out of the center of it, leaving about a 2" hem all the way around. Then I glued a big circle of the vinyl in with hot glue. I now have a pop-up version of the rag that I was talking about with the 4x4.

I don't use it much but if you are traveling light or in run-n-gun mode without all your normal gak like Hollywood frames etc then it is a good quick-n-easy substitute.




It wads and folds right up like normal, then pops right back. I know the idea seems kinda fragile, but we've had this for years and looks and works the same as the day I made it.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Todd TerryRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 15, 2013 at 8:35:21 pm

More vinyl...

Forgot I had uploaded this pic to the COW long time ago.

Here's one of the 4x4's that I made gaffer tape "pockets" on the corners so I could use softbox rods to attach it to a 1200w HMI fresnel... so I can diffuse without setting up a separate stand and frame. I drilled holes in the perimeter of the barndoor's ring to make a sort of halfassed speedring. I use this setup for exteriors a lot to give talent some punch.

There's no elastic loops on this one but I think it's self explanatory...




And no, as I said before it doesn't melt, or even really get warm. It might with a big tungsten instrument, but not with HMI.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Craig AlanRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 16, 2013 at 1:10:34 am

Thanks Todd,

Very clear pics.

The Matthews sewn corners gives me the idea how they mount. So I'll try it with tape and maybe add a little glue.

Not a fan of the pop up ones. They always seem to catch some wind and want to fly away outdoors. But yeah they take up little space. I have these other ones with aluminum grips on two sides so you can hand hold them really well. Or mount them. I like the design except once the reflectors are on the frames its really hard to get them off. A real wrestling match. Also its white or silver and I though it was just me until you said the foamcore gives a nicer reflection. The shiney cloths just seem to have hot and cold spots and its hard to get a nice even soft fill.

I have one kit frame that came with these flags and green screen with velcro hems. Works good once its assembled with the cloth in place. But the frame doesn't stay assembled by itself which is weird. The velcro around all four sides of the cloth holds it all together. So as a result its hard to assemble without getting your cloth dirty. I can gaffer tape the assembly together but its kind of not thought out real well. Or maybe I'm an idiot and there is a way to hold it without the pieces slipping apart just as one side gets velcro-ed. I can probably get a latch of some kind and use machine screws to attached them Or glue down some velcro on the other side.

Would the fairly thin empty metal frames that have the pins attached allow you to mount the vinyl with some B-52s?

Like what you did with the extra drilled holes in the speed ring. I think I'd be nervous doing that in front of our 1k fresnels. They get really hot.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Todd TerryRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 16, 2013 at 1:47:10 am

[Craig Alan] "Not a fan of the pop up ones"

Yeah, me either... rather use them, except for a quick setup where I know I'm going to shoot a quick shot and then break down two minutes later and have a crew member to hand-hold it the entire time.


[Craig Alan] "But the frame doesn't stay assembled by itself which is weird."

Is your frame hollow tube? If so, you can string shock cord (elastic bungee cord you buy by the foot) throughout the entire frame... keeps it together, pull it apart to disassemble it, and it will also pop up back together tight like those elastic-strung tent poles. We've done this with 4x4 frames before, works well. It's kinda hard to find shock cord in stores, and when you do it's expensive. But it is plentiful and cheap on eBay. Quarter inch works well...
http://www.ebay.com/itm/261242632588


[Craig Alan] " allow you to mount the vinyl with some B-52s? "

Ummm... C-47s? Maybe, if your frame is thin... or use cheap small spring clamps from Harbor Freight. Or velcro on the frame and silk.


[Craig Alan] " I think I'd be nervous doing that in front of our 1k fresnels. They get really hot."

If that's a 1K tungsten, yeah, they're probably too hot. They work fine though on a 1200w HMI, maybe even larger but that's as big as I normally use. You'd think an instrument that big would melt it right away, but the vinyl doesn't even get warm. Of course, although HMI housings get pretty darn toasty, they generate much more light than heat compared to tungsten.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Craig AlanRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 16, 2013 at 2:37:19 am

http://www.ebay.com/itm/261242632588

Thanks for link. Yeah its hollow. But I'm thinking maybe drill a hole and add a thumb screw might do it too.

[Todd Terry] "Ummm... C-47s?"

Yeah but reversed and spring held on with gaffer tape so you get a longer/tighter grip.

http://books.google.com/books?id=TLcypEGY6mMC&pg=PT302&lpg=PT302&dq=clothes...

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Todd TerryRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 16, 2013 at 2:46:04 am

[Craig Alan] "Yeah but reversed and spring held on with gaffer tape..."

I've done this for a couple of decades+ now and I've never heard of a "B-52" before.

Ya learn something new every day I guess.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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Craig AlanRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 16, 2013 at 4:17:48 am

Here's another link but I couldn't find many

http://www.dannyboyservices.com/special.html

On one set many years ago a guy used that name for it as he assembled it. I thought it was just him making fun of all the grip speak. Then I read it again in the lighting book and figured it was just the name grips used for a modified C-47. There doesn't seem to be any consensus on where c-47 came from.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Camcorders: Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV30/40, Sony Z7U, VX2000, PD170; FCP 6 certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Rick WiseRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 16, 2013 at 4:35:23 pm

I know them as C-74s.... The version dipped in plastic look pretty cool.

Here are some links to C-74s:
https://www.google.com/search?q=c-74+clothespin&client=firefox-a&hs=1l9&rls...

Rick Wise
Cinematographer
San Francisco Bay Area
http://www.RickWiseDP.com


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Mark SuszkoRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 15, 2013 at 10:58:31 pm

Or do what sailors do for the tops of sails: sandwich the corner with a firm material like plastic or foam. then make your attachments to the plastic with a grommet or bolt or whatever.



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Erik AnschicksRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 17, 2013 at 9:57:47 pm

Hi Larry -

Since you described this is for outdoor work, I would first ask what your general budget, crew situation, and experience level with this type of shooting is. Reason being is that a (relatively) high degree of control over outdoor elements usually necessitates heavy, bulky gear, i.e. butterflies, overheads, combo stands, grip gear. Also, when doing this type of thing, safety is paramount and you absolutely need someone who knows what they're doing with it! So my first recommendation would be ideally to hire a couple (or more) grips that are proficient in rigging and know the proper ways to tie off/safety items.

Also, what is the programming type? Is it narrative/ficitonal? Documentary? Run and Gun?

In any event, aside from standard grip gear for the outdoors - meaning combo stands, grip heads/rigging, PLENTY of sandbags, etc...here are some of my go-to items outdoors - you can find all of these navigating through the grip section of filmtools.com.

- I love using Ultrabounce. Usually in 6x6 or 8x8 sizes (as I prefer with most rags that aren't overheads). It provides a very strong, wide bounce that can then be softened with frames if needs be.

- Checkerboard Rags. I prefer the silver/gold combination since I've found that it warms up the talent nicely when bouncing direct sunlight.

- Griffylon. Just a standard black/white rag that can be a white bounce or negative fill. Or even raingear over the talent's head as it is reasonably waterproof!

- For diffusion, I like Silent Frost or Silent Grid Cloth (in varying thickness). As the name suggests, it is diffusion but in more of a plastic-like material that stays silent. It doesn't crinkle in the wind.

- If you want an overhead, most any standard silk does just fine. Just depends on how thick you want it to be. The size depends on your coverage needs.

If your needs are much smaller, then 4x4 open frames skinned with any type of diffusion (including those above) and floppy cutters will do for the basics as others have suggested on this thread. Anyone else, chime in!


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Erik AnschicksRe: Most useful light control equipment?
by on Jul 17, 2013 at 10:18:01 pm

One last suggestion...one interesting technique I like is to use a mirror reflector - usually 4x4 or 42" x 42" and bounce a super-harsh sunbeam INTO another material like the ultrabounce, which then is used to light the talent. Here's an example of what the result looks like from a shoot I was the key grip on a couple years back:





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