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Old January 8th, 2006, 09:02 PM   #1
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low budget lighting umbrella or soft box?

Hey I was wondering if it is definitely worth picking up a professional lighting umbrella, or can you just use a white one and keep them further away from the lights, or line them with silver material? Also does anybody know any links on how to make a lowbudget softbox? Thanks all

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Old January 8th, 2006, 09:16 PM   #2
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A lot of what you can get away with is determined by what your lighting instrument actually is.

A softbox is a great way to send a softlight in a controlled fashion in a particular direction.

The light is 'softened' by spreading it's apparent source across a greater surface. The light from a soft box appears to come from the large white fabric on it's face.

You can bounce your light source off of any white surface, and get a softer light. Could be the ceiling, could be the wall. Of course, it's much more difficult to controll the spill and the bounce, you can't really move or angle a wall or ceiling, but you can move the light source. Using a 'bounce card' or white board can work to the same effect. Again, hard to controll the bounce, and flags and scrims can come in handy.

Send the light source THROUGH a white fabric. Sure, a white umbrella will do, but if it's too close or the light too hot, it might catch fire. Ditto any white fabric put to close to a hi wattage lamp. You can buy spun glass and diffusion material to simply clip on gel frames or barndoors, and don't overlook WHITE BAKING PARCHMENT as a good, cheap source of diffusion material.

In short, improvise.
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Old January 8th, 2006, 09:55 PM   #3
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A ridiculously cheap + highly effective reflector would be crinkled tinfoil on cardboard or foamcore. The tinfoil reflects a lot more light since it's more directional than a plain matte surface (i.e. more directional than white foamcore, white ceilings).

There's somewhat less "spill" since it's somewhat directional.

2- In Victor Milt's "Light it Right DVD", he gives instructions on how to make what he calls nano lights.

The first nano light is a bank of lights mounted on a piece of thick foamcore. The fixtures themselves are six flourescent lights, and they further get diffused by a piece of diffusion gel. Hard to explain without showing the DVD. Other than the mystery color temperature, this seems like a nice light because it's very soft, portable, cheap, and draws little power.

The second nano light is a bunch of fluorescent fixtures in a Chinese lantern. The fluorescents are the types that fit in normal incandescent bulb sockets, and you may be lucky enough to get a dimmable one.
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Old January 8th, 2006, 10:00 PM   #4
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I'll probably catch some flack, but check ebay. I got a set of 3 lighting umbrellas for less than $30. Just make sure you have a good stand.
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Old January 9th, 2006, 10:41 AM   #5
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Hey thanks very much for all the replies, I'm going to look into that dvd, right now I am using parchment baking paper, tin foil on foamcore as well. Thanks again

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Old January 9th, 2006, 10:49 AM   #6
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Pretty much any umbrella will do as long as you dont do something stupid--such as put it 2 inches from a 1000 watt light. As long as you can hold your hand a given distance from the light without burning it, the umbrella will be ok there.

Umbrellas are not used much in video because you cant control the light. However they do have certain advantages where uncontrolled spill light is not a big problem. They are much faster to set up than a softbox (not counting rifa lights), and of course cheaper. They dont need a separate stand or crew member like a foam core bounce. Assuming your light mount will accept an umbrella shaft, you can bounce the light off the umbrella or shoot through it. With all the spill it is also more forgiving of placement versus the subject.

Buy an umbrella and play around with it. You will want more control and thus will eventually want softboxes, foam core setups, flourescents and other soft sources. But there will be times where its just easier/quicker to stick the umbrella on a small tungsten source and it works just as well.
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Old January 9th, 2006, 06:59 PM   #7
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Here is a link to a company that sells a lower cost softbox, similar to what are called Cronie Cones by gaffers. These units are meant to be attached to lights that have barn doors. You will also need to supply the diffusion material, like 216.

This company has been known to give discounts to "student filmmakers." Never hurts to ask.

Go for a softbox over an umbrella.

Wayne Orr, SOC
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Old January 13th, 2006, 08:31 AM   #8
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Personally I like softboxes MUCH more than umbrellas.

Jacques Mersereau
University of Michigan-Video Studio Manager
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Old January 13th, 2006, 09:25 PM   #9
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I got a 1000w broadlight with a softbox and stand from an ebay dude for 200 bucks. It's not as nice as my chimera but it's a fourth the cost.
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