A gaffer in Atlanta I worked with years ago carried a roll of 4' wide
tracing paper. In simple head shot lighting set-ups, he'd stick the tube
on an ext arm of a C stand, unroll 3, 4 or 5 feet of it, stick some spring
clamps to the top and bottom and boom - instant diffusion. The only drawback
besides how close you could put it to lights, especially open face units,
was a slight bluish cast that was easily fixed with 1/8 or 1/4 CTO.
It also served as a cheap fix for too dark or too bright windows in the
Randy Miller, DP in LA
Just a few things I've used off the top of my head -
Shower curtains -
Real parachute cloth -
The whole parachute -
Clear Visqueen - actually looks great on slightly overcast day exteriors,
kinda like a lighter half soft frost
I've got some material that a retired key grip called 'dobie cloth' which
is kinda nice. I've worked with people who really like nylon taffeta –
much thicker than silk, a closer weave so that it diffuses better than
silk, yet still can be sewn, and doesn't color the light as much as muslin.
In a pinch I've also used copier paper, paper bags, plastic bags, and
once long ago I had nothing handy but the sleeve from a roll of gel -
stuck it on the light and it worked. It was a small light, of course.
Los Angeles, CA
Ted Hayash wrote :
> The whole parachute
Tried this in a pinch as a butterfly outdoors.
When my C-stands lifted off the ground I felt like an idiot !
(Even worse, a passer-by who saw the parachute asked if
I was doing a site specific environmental art piece
Sam "no Christo on a windy day" Wells
style="margin-top: 0; margin-bottom: 0">
Tracing paper has been used for years, It is still a industry standard
in most cameraman's bag of tricks. Most people know it as 1000H it is
great for lighting a women's face.
> Just for kicks (the tuff spun
thread got me to thinking about this)
I have quite a collection of old vinyl translucent shower curtains that
I use. I've found that you can shoot light straight through them, or drape
them on a gobo arm like a shower curtain for varying diffusion, "bunching
them up" on the edges to give a variable degree of diffusion.
My wife thinks I'm off that I won't let her throw any of these away, but
the do make some nice light, and I don't have a problem cutting them to
pieces or throwing them away when they start to color from the heat.
Phillip Badger wrote:
> For instance, I've used Xerox
paper, paper grocery bags, curtains ...
The white polyethylene closed cell foam used as packing material. Comes
in big rolls in varying thicknesses. I used some once about 5/16 (8mm)
thick in a large sheet. Socked a 1 k open face into it, 2 feet from the
lamp. lost 1 stop but was amazed at how big an area the light was diffused
over and how evenly it was spread. basically a person standing 4 feet
from the hanging sheet was lit *almost* evenly from head to toe.
Mark Smith DP
Oh Seven Films Inc.
Gerry Williams wrote:
> I have quite a collection of
old vinyl translucent shower curtains that I >use.
Oh yeah. There was a type of shower curtain that had sea shell ( classic
Shell Petroleum logo kind of shell) shaped pattern in it, with each shell
having radial ridges in a fan shape tight at the small end of the shell
and fanning out to the large end. A point source coming through a 2x3
foot piece of this can illuminate a 25 x 30 foot space.
Mark Smith DP
Oh Seven Films Inc.
Mark's story about using foam packing material reminds me of another odd
diffusion material - the familiar bounce material, bead board. I was never
on a set when we pushed a light through it, but I did hear a few stories
about people using it as diffusion material in front of big lights, and
how it was continually melting. Sounds like a terrible idea from a health
perspective, but I can imagine that the light was quite nice, if you could
get enough of it...
Los Angeles, CA
> Anybody got any good stories?
Back in the day I used to carry a couple of the shear(ish) vinyl shower
curtain liners which I would use as shower curtain...duh
They were cheap and great looking and smelled hot before they melted (good
warning) keyed many a talking head with a shower curtain draped over a
Lowell Pole stuck into an interlink on a KS stand with a blonde blasting
I was assisting a friend many years ago on a very low budget film in Philadelphia.
On a drunken stagger home we noticed some discarded "frosted"
glass shower doors. We dragged them back to set and banged some light
through them the next day.
>Quite lovely, actually.
Flash forward years
later, I'm hanging outside the building where I teach, catching a smoke
before class, and one of my students is excitedly telling me how they
got some beautiful soft light pushing an open face 1K through the shower
door in the bathroom they shot in the day before, and I smiled, remembering
the excitement when you re-invent the wheel for yourself.