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Old June 21st, 2010, 01:33 PM   #1
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Good Sun Shade Block Option

Hello (Tourist here), and I have a recommendation request on what you guys have experienced or used in the field for sun blocking and outside shooting (large size)? I've taken a look at the California Sunbounce Sun-Swatter, however, haven't found any other comparable options. I wouldn't mind an actual setup or stand as most of these outside shoots are controlled interviews and I don't always have a PA on hand to hold something like the Sun-Swatter up. I've also though of several reflector stands and white cards in them, but didn't want to think of the wind blowing issue. Would prefer something made for blocking the sun, but not as extensive as an outdoor tent or canopy. :)
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Old June 21st, 2010, 02:21 PM   #2
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Any fabric that gets stretched out on a frame will turn into a sail in the wind, even very porous screen material.

You'll need someone to hold it, unless you haul a lot of sandbags and stake it out securely.

Otherwise, your only other option is to soften the harsh shadows with a strong fill light, like an HMI. But it can cause your talent to squint even more.
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Old June 21st, 2010, 07:06 PM   #3
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Thanks Dean for your reply. Any other opinions are welcome.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 01:19 AM   #4
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William,

Think about it this way. For literally decades, folks who shoot video and photography have had the same goal - to balance the sun and shadows in order to make pleasing photos and videos.

Over these decades a LOT of folks have applied their brains to doing this. And what's generally come up are two distinct approaches.

The first is to erect some kind of shade structure that's self-standing and self-supporting. This is the way large-crew hollywood productions approach the problem. A typical grip truck has up to 20' x 20' heavy frames upon which you can tie anything from one or two stop nets, to translucent white diffusion to more reflective bounce or black absorbent materials. With large heavy stands, sandbags and/or guy ropes for stability. These are the way you handle the problem when you have a large crew and/or big budget.

On the other side of the coin, there are the smaller handheld versions of the same thing. These are typically 8' x 8' or smaller and range from smaller versions of the hollywood big boys made of aluminum instead of heavy steel - to the popular "pop up" spring tension reflectors in many surface options.
The smaller guys are typically hand held since as others have said, ALL of these devices tend to act as pretty efficient sails in wind.

The point is that if there was some kind of lightweight, self-standing, single person operable reflector/diffusion/flag device out there that really worked - EVERYONE in the industry would probably own one. (or 10!)

The fact that none of us does is a pretty solid indication that you have to pick from the solutions that the market place has voted on and judged to do the job.

And that's either large frame and fabric rigs, OR smaller units that require a body to adjust and operate and keep from blowing down.

Simple as that. Sorry.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 03:20 AM   #5
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I've been thinking that a white easy-up tent might be the best solution for a small crew. They are very easy to set up and usually come in their own case. I can't think of an easier way to get 100 square feet of self-supporting shade. Their material usually allows some light transmission, and a backlight could be installed in the roofing structure to add a bit of highlight back if too much is taken away. If this is a really important piece of equipment, someone could even have a canopy maker replace the fabric with something lighter that has better transmission qualities. It might cost several hundred dollars to get this done, but that would pay itself off quickly if one less crew is needed and safety is increased. These tents are well-proven and can easily be staked or weighted down. The only big downside is that there are supports at the corners that could get in the shot so I think this would only work for a two-person interview.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 07:52 AM   #6
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I have a 10x10 Easy-Up canopy and I was ready to purchase a 10x20 if the company would have some sort of diffusing or translucent material available, but unfortunately they donít, I was even willing to pay extra for a custom one. The current Easy-Up material has no usable light transmission as far as photography goes.

Here in Florida we have to learn how to manage the sunlight if we want to stay in business and we tried just about every possible remedies. The conventional methods still work best. I have 4x4, 4x6, 6x6, 8x8 and 12x12 overheads. 6x6 and 8x8 are the ones I use the most. For quick set ups we use the Westcott 4x4 or the 4x6. For the larger sizes we use the Matthews.

We donít want to kill the sunlight, all we want to do is reduce it a little bit and mostly diffuse it. The larger 6x6 and 8x8 will also wraparound the sunlight softening and diffusing the shadow side.

I get the best result with a 1/2 stop silk and if he sun is not very strong I use 1/4 stop. Anything heavier, even 3/4 stop is too much, if you do use heavier materials you have to increase the aperture and the background will start getting overexposed creating new problems.

Forget about using an assistant to hold the diffuser. Unless the interview will last no more than 2 minutes nobody can hold anything steady with their arms stretched over their head for more than a few minutes and if thereís even a slight wind you will end up with a moving light source. 2 good stands and some sandbags is the older and still the only solution. Also consider ropes to anchor the diffuser, either spike it into the ground or tie it to a solid point.

Seriously, also think about a good liability insurance if you don't already have one. Those flying overheads can cause a lot of damage. You learn really fast when usually is too late.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 02:12 PM   #7
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With the difficulty securing even a 6x6 diffusion frame, I can't help but thing there should be a market for easy-up diffusion fabrics. I have a friend who does canvas work for sailboats. I'll bet he could turn some thin synthetic fabric into a nice diffusion that fits over an easy-up frame. There is really no substitute for geometry in making a decent structure, and those canopies are as secure and easy as can be. They won't work in a hurricane, but they seem to be fine here in Hawaii and we have constant wind.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 06:35 PM   #8
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Thanks guys for your replies.

Bill, I hear what you are saying totally. I wasn't looking for an all-in-one fix and am perfectly willing to invest in something necessary or hire a PA to hold that Sun-swatter.

Marcus I've thought of the easy canopies as well, and those corner posts do eventually get into the shot. I would be interested in if your friend decides to create some type of easy-up diffusion fabric. I'm sure I wouldn't be the only lurker on that. :)

Nino I'm going to check into those Westcotts and Matthews. Thanks for that.

This is exactly the kind of feedback I wanted guys. Options and thoughts to go out and make an informed decision. As the one person setup gets kind of old from time to time, I'm leaning more towards hiring a PA more frequently than usual to get the desired result for these outside shoots. Writing it in the budget can save me time on the set.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 09:33 PM   #9
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I made a simple one-time-use silk using some loose-weave synthetic material. The light it provided on a 3x6 frame was pretty nice. I'll eventually make a permanent one for that frame out of the same material and have it held in place with Velcro instead of duct tape.

Marcus -- for a relatively inexpensive and easily set-up frame you can check out EZ Corners in Aiea. They sell those steel pipe frames that people use to make temporary shelters. You can substitute some sort of light diffusion fabric in place of the usual tarp.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 11:19 PM   #10
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The easy corners are a good, affordable idea, but I really like the simple setup and transport of the easy-up tent canopies. It really only takes two people to just pull on opposite corners and it all goes into a rolling case. I won't look into this any time soon as my life is in such a state of flux, but I keep these things in the back of my mind. If a job comes up where I need to shoot outdoors, I'll come up with something and let everyone know how it worked out.
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