Cinematography Mailing List - CML

Bounce Sources


Well, I'd like to start a new thread if I may : What is the most creative [i.e.: strangest?] material you have ever used to bounce like off?

I heard that Bob Richardson, ASC used Luane [you know...the expensive plywood stuff...sorry for my spelling] which he hit 4K pars into, at least until the sheets began to smoke and were changed out!
Any other odd yet great mediums to bounce into besides the standard bead-board & foam-core?


Some of the nicest, cheapest material I've used is a construction material used as building insulation. Specifically, this material is a dark yellow foam board, one inch thick, that has been covered on both sides with a semi mirrored mylar, of sorts.

4x8 sheets were $6.75. These hit with either coat of matte spray or a "dusting" with cheap white paint to cut back on the specularity of bounced
sunlight and you have large quantities of fill for tiny amounts of money.

I used these to light a high frame rate (10 fps) still shoot of a rollerblader taking runs at the camera position. I bounced an 8 foot fill from a low positioned sun, over a 70 foot run. Materials cost totaled ~ $150.

They are lighter weight than 1 inch foamcore, but are not as stiff.

Cliff Hancuff
Clear Day Software

I heard that Bob Richardson, ASC used Luane [you know...the expensive plywood stuff...sorry for my spelling] which he hit 4K pars into, at least until the sheets began to smoke and were changed out!
Any other odd yet great mediums to bounce into besides the standard bead- board & foam-core?


I've told this anecdote before on CML, but I saw John Alcott bounce two brutes into the black side of a show card for a CU of Paul Newman on Fort Apache the Bronx.

Lowell Peterson

Cellotex. 1" rigid insulating construction board, "found" at a construction site. The 1" rigid foam interior is light, creamy tan in color; it's sandwiched between two sheets of mylar, one matte black and the other dull aluminum. Perfect for a light weight bounce (rig it like foam core) and you can peel the matte black covering off easily, leaving a "warm/soft" side and a "efficient silver" side. Cut a single 4' x 8' sheet in half, you've got two great 4x4 bounce boards for a total of $13.95. Great for travel and location work, buy 'em on site at any major lumber yard or "Home Depot" kinda chain store; use 'em, toss 'em when you're done.

Jim Furrer

A story passed along to me.

The great Vittorio Storraro was hired for a commercial being shot on location in Niagara Falls. The usual fleet of lighting trucks, grip trucks, big crew, etc. made the trek down to the Falls.

As the first shot was being lined up with the director the crew waited anxiously for Vittorio's directions as to what equipment would be hauled off the truck to light the shot.

There was a long pause. Storraro, after assessing the situation (perhaps he stroked his chin here, I don't know) turns to the crew and with a chopping motion of his hand indicates where and on what angle he would like a piece of foamcore placed. That was it!

Now that's genius!!

Greg Bennett

Several things I have bounced light off of: shiny linoleum floors (to get that hot morning light thang), off of reflector boards at night (to soften the harshness of HMI pars and, one of my tricks, because I hate the harsh sterility of beadboard, is I'll kindly as the grips to entice the art department out of some tan hued paint and paint a 4x8 of foamcore and the 'Marble-ize' or speckle it with a darker color creating a kind of 'granite texture. That gives the effect of bouncing off of sand. Of course there's the obvious: bouncing off of cielings, walls, even dark maple wood panelling (don't set it afire though!) and 'microwaving' with mirrors. One pet project of mine has been to find odd shapes of glass, cove window radiuses, TV set glass fronts and, for my last feature I found a particular flat or shallow curved piece of rear window glass with a bronze tinting from a honda van which I silvered and used when I wanted extremely hard shadows. The idea came from noticing light reflected off of windshield in the parking lot that gave a surprising venetian blinds effect in office buildings. Much fun. Who else???

--Eric Edwards

I can't believe someone didn't beat me to the punch here -- a favorite of mine from the low-budget days was the need for a large soft ambient glow for night exteriors... Love the side of the grip truck... Nice and reflective white...Very tasty in those under-the-gun productions when a 20-by is as mythical as a Unicorn... Was very sad when I did a low budget feature with a green grip/electric truck... What the hell was supposed to use for a bounce then?

Also, in a desperate measure while shooting on board a yacht at sea and needing a bit of fill from the sun, the DP threw me a roll of 216 and said --
"Here -- unroll this and hold it up!" Woof! Instant 4x4 bounce... Of course that's the same DP who also bounced a practical off of a red poster tube for a little warmth in a close-up and, once off of a toilet bowl for a little kicker... (and you know, it was actually a cool source...)

Jay "I've got a million of 'em" Holben

I heard that Conrad Hall likes to bounce 4k pars off a door handle!

Well, maybe not 4Ks but...well, maybe the story is apocryphal but next time there's a door handle in a scene I'm lighting I intend to try it.

The story did set me thinking and is a good one to remember when our minds stop thinking creatively and we just call out for a polly out of habit ;<)

Shangara Singh

London Based DoP/Lighting Cameraman

The last thing I used " a pinch..." was one of those shields you put in your car's windshield to keep the car from getting so hot in the summer. Wal-Mart is now carrying a silver one that is extremely light and folds to about 6 inches wide. The other day, I saw someone with a gold one that I'm trying to track down. I guess the best thing would be if I could find one with silver on one side for my "Elvis" and gold on the other for my "Prisilla".

D.P. Rob Draper tells a story of how he did an office scene. While he was scouting the location one day he noticed that the next building over was white washed (I guess the building was pretty close). He calculated when the sun would be positioned to make the white building a huge bounce card for the office scene he had in the adjacent bldg.


Several years ago we were filming a night shot of a house set in a snow scene in upper Wisconsin. Since we had to bring everything from South Carolina, we were using a semi trailer for a grip truck. Fortunately, it was white, and I bounced a tungsten-lamped 9 light off the side for ambient fill, much as Jay has done. But the handiest thing we've come up with lately was for a shot inside a small junior high gym with a 13' ceiling. The scene was a science fair and the displays were virtually wall to wall.

The director wanted a high angle long shot from one corner that covered most of the gym. Trying to push soft light across the width of the gym to supplement the fluoros overhead and give a little soft cross light to relieve the flatness was a problem. We came up with a couple of 1/2"thick 4x8 panels of Gatorfoam covered with Roscoflex S (soft) with HMI 1200s bounced off of them. This gave us some soft punch you can't get from straight foam board. Since Gatorfoamhas a surface made of thin wood material rather than paper, it is more rigid than regular board, but being only 1/2" thick it is still lightweight.

To mount them we bolted a large floor flange exactly in the center of each and screwed 24" long 2" pvc pipes to the flanges.

We can clamp the pipe in a Lowel Grip mounted on a Matthews Combo stand, which gives us complete swivel adjustment of the panel. We also used them for soft backlight on closer shots.

For softer effects, the entire panel can be reversed (flange/pipe/Grip on the front side) and the normal white surface can be used. For storage, the pvc mounts can be unscrewed from the flanges. When these boards finally break, we can buy new ones, drill 4 holes in the centers and transfer the flanges to the new boards.

We've used them successfully on exteriors, as well, but they need to be tied off at the corners so they don't sail away in the breeze!

For a scene tomorrow from the back of a classroom with acoustical tile ceiling, we are going to rig a panel of either Roscoflex S or shiny posterboard material to the ceiling to bounce a soft beam over the desks to augment the lighting in the front of the room. The soft side of one of the 4x8 Gatorfoam boards will fill the foreground.

--Wade Ramsey

I love taking household mirrors (2' x 4', etc.) and covering them with 2" clear packing tape (both sides) a few times. Take the mirror and drop it flat onto concrete and take a hammer to it. Break it up artistically.

Mount to a piece of wood with a baby pin on it. Use handy clamps to grab it as you torque it into weird shapes. put wedges behind it to press it out. I try to use a Hmi par with this as it needs a big gun.

It gives an incredible look for a key light. Put branches in front for a great dappled sun light look with Hmi's.

Styrofoam ceiling tiles(2'x2') make great small bounces too. Not really a bounce, but taking 4x4 frames and covering with industrial grade saran wrap (all crunched up in layers) and drizziling clear oil on them is a cool effect, especially if 2 or 3 are stacked up in front of the key.

Kind of messy, but boy is it pretty!!!!

Kurt Rauf

Movie screens. Bought a bunch from a school system surplus auction. Cheap.

Some on stands, some were hanging style and I just took them out of the cans and roll them up by hand.

Once I had to match backlight ("moonlight") coming through a window on a night interior. Had already shot with an 1200 par HMI out in the yard. Then the rains came. Stood the screen in the downpour in the yard, put the HMI safely under a patio overhang, and got the shot.

Mark Schlicher
Sunporch Entertainment

I kinda stole that same idea for a short that I gaffed in the parking garage at Sony. The director wanted the open areas between the ceiling and the lower walls to blow out white. Knowing that we didn't have anywhere near the crew or budget to paper the openings and light them, I helped to schedule those shots so that the adjacent building would reflect the sun and adequately blow out those areas. We shot 98 at a pretty wide aperture to take advantage of the natural lite within the confines of the garage and the openings blew out wonderfully... God -- he (or she) is the ultimate gaffer after all...

My philosophy has always been to not fight him (her) when I could avoid it...

Jay Holben

I like using these white table-cloth liners when I'm doing small shoots with only my personal kit. They cost about $4 , they weigh nothing, tape up to any wall, they're small and seem to have a decent quality for bouncing light. I carry two in my ditty bag, which gives me two 9foot X 5foot bounce.


Nobody's mentioned it and I forgot to: What about those nifty weather balloons for bounce? They're great for when you've rented the barroque palace and they won't let you put a pole cat anywhere. I read somewhere recently that a DP double tethered one outside, hit it with a 2K xenon and it played as the moon in a shot.

I lit a huge old courtroom (same one they used for JFK) with Light by Heaven.

On the tech scout i noticed the court was in an "ell" of the building and the whitewashed walls from the main structure formed a massive bounce on the fill side thru three 30x15 foot windows with louvred blinds. it was a double key effect which was very pretty.

but on the tech scout I failed to see how long the effect would last and found that it didnt last long. to maintain the corner I'd painted myself into - i just used 4x4 foamcore. also saved myself by keeping the blinds tightened down during the wide shots so that later i could open them up as the hand of the infinite (sun) passed from us. i just saw the footage and it came in nice. good matches.


How about the old bouncing the light into the water gag? I've bounced a 10K into a pool of shallow water to reflect into a rear screen from behind.

We even got an interesting ripple FX by taping a wooden 'tail' to an oscillating fan and having that stir the water for constant waves. Sometimes we've used mirrors on the bottom.

Robby Muller once showed me a product that Rosco makes. I can't find it in the swatch, however, maybe it was called Lumalite or Lumalux, which is thin styrofoam similiar to disposable trays. We glue mounted it onto some Luann (?sp) and found it to be much punchier than foamcore and much more focusable. I recall it was very fragile but worked great especially on overcast days.

And of course, Kraft paper. The light golden-brown paper often used on film sets to cover tables or wrap props. That's an old standby for me. But the sand trick sounds very appealing. Might have to give that a try as well as Kurt's oil gag (that does sound messy and you better hope it works). I have used the mirror gag but always have difficulty getting the broken mirror to stay in the 'perfect' position. Not to mention the luck aspects....

Jim Sofranko

One thing I found worked really great on a table top shoot........a paper towel roll!!!

It was one of those situations where you look at the scene and realize you just need a little something else...but your DEDO kit is all out and a 1K is just way too big, so I grabbed the first thing I could within by arm's reach: a roll of white paper towels and place it verticle just outside the frame line and...WOW! A beautifull white/soft reflection on whatever it was we were shooting.

Another trick I like [and cheap at that] is to skin a 4x4 open frame with that brown 'craft paper' [shipping wrapping paper]. it is very 'dull' and has a nice warmth to it. Just either bounce a 2K into it directly or slide it into a scene to add a little colored pretty nice.

With that same thought, I've had the guys skin other open frames with different colors of old seamless I found wadded in the back corners of some stages...sometimes a little blue or red fill which originates from a bounce and not a gel seems to do the trick, and it doesn't even matter if there are boot prints or tears on it, actually the more distressed/torn/wrinkled the better....
just a thought...


Jessica needed a similar effect on "that feature". I put handmirrors into the bottom of a 1x2' tin and about 3" of water went in. it was a small room and the director changed his mind occasionally so i skimmed the 1.2 PAR into the tin from about 4' away and bounced it up into a hard reflector another few feet from the tin. had a grip stir the water slowly with hand to make the ripple and could place the effect anywhere in the room. the reflector also softened it up nicely. the trick was to stir the water delicately.

Love the sand and the oil ideas- Go CML! I know of a tabletop DP in NYC that drives his lights thru construction glass- that ripply 3" thick stuff you see stacked up in malls.


I used to always carry a bunch of old CD's with me. They can be stuck to things, broken up or hung very easily. Emergency blankets are fantastic as well. Very compact, easy to shape around objects or cut to size, cheap and available in gold or silver. I've also used large quantities of mylar helium baloons (round and star shaped), but it's hard to keep the grips from huffing the helium! Hardwood and brick floors are some of my favorites though...

Anders Uhl

Ok, We've heard a lot about bouncing off of. Now how about what to shoot through.
I'll start the ball rolling by biding SARAN WRAP!!!!!
About 4 layers works great if you have nothing else big enough to go over that humongous big front element.

Not to speak of not a bit of filter factor.

Steven Poster ASC

Three-sided glass bottle from Pier One, static---or turn slowly...For color effects, tape gel to it, or even add water with a little food coloring.

Steve Voeller

Stuff to shoot through . . .

Foral designer odds and ends. In a good floral supply shop, they have gold, silver ornamental do-dads. Little "fake twigs and branches".

Put them a couple of feet in front of the lens, hit em with a small light and whala, great out-of-focus shapes with highlights and color.
Movement adds to it. Great with swing & tilt.

Jim Dollarhide

I bought some of that years ago, when it was called Rosco Bounce, I believe. Just threw away the last remnants of it yesterday becauseit is so fragile I couldn't tape it to the ceiling without it self-destructing.
According to their catalog it looks like they now call it Ultrabounce W at least the description seems to resemble it.
It had a beautiful surface, very much like satin fabric, but I never once found a use for it because it was so difficult to handle. (Couldn't evenwrap up your leftover blackened chicken fingers in it!) Gluing it down looks like the answer--wish I'd been sharp enough to think of it!

--Wade Ramsey

I used to have an extensive cut glass and bottle kit that recently got lost on a job My favorites were cut glass from a chandelier, bottles of various dimensions, and a lense from an old leko that acted like an aspheron but wierder.

Jim S.

Yesterday the art department on the picture I'm currently shooting were glazing a door. They had the door flat on a bench and were applying the glaze, and using a blond to help it dry. As they applied the oily glaze, the most beautiful reflections and soft shadows of the painter appeared on the back wall. This effect was quickly filed away in the visual memory bank!

Although of course the wet glaze provided the effect, I expect you could reproduce this with a non-drying substitute, perhaps cooking oil spread over a flat surface. But don't use anything too flammable...and I just know someone will write in and say that extra virgin olive oil gives better results than sunflower!

I've seen mylar and the mirror/water bounce. Wooden floors are nice. I use gold and silver bounce all the time on this film, gives a harder and more abstract light than white bounce and is good for a kick in the eyes. I like 'backlight and bounce' as an elegant single source solution to some
shots, seems economical.

And now, at last, a use for all those free magazine CDs! Great idea!

Chris Plevin


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