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-   -   Homemade Reflectors (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/photon-management/75739-homemade-reflectors.html)

Scott Devlin September 18th, 2006 01:08 PM

Homemade Reflectors
Does anyone have any info on making home-made light reflectors? I will be shooting outside and hope to cut down on some shadows.

Glenn Chan September 18th, 2006 01:52 PM

One way to do this:
Go to a grocery store, and buy a roll of tinfoil. Take some big pieces of cardboard too... cut them in half if necessary.
(Or get cardboard, tinfoil, and tape/glue some other way.)

Take the tinfoil and crinkle it. Crinkling it will make the reflector a soft-ish light source instead of mirror-like. You might want a mirror-like surface too... although the reflection won't be as good as actual mirrors. Anyways, crinkled tinfoil is sort of like white foamcore except with *a lot more throw/power*.

Either tape or glue the tinfoil to the cardboard.
You can have the whole reflector fold in half for easier transportation.

This is very cheap and very good light.

2- Then you just have to figure out how to hold the reflector... ideas would be to use a c-stand (with grip heads) or crew members.

Cole McDonald September 18th, 2006 02:55 PM

I used a 4 x 6 piece of foam core and silver (gold on another one) spray paint...worked like a champ for our 48 hour project...

you could replace the paint with some gold or silver stretchy fabric that you can find a most fabric shops. clip these to the foamcore board to give it some rigidity and have a PA/Friend hold it for you (or clamp it to a stand of some sort).


Giroud Francois September 18th, 2006 03:35 PM

if you need to remove shadows, you need a diffuser, not a reflector.
diffuser can be made from thin white nylon stretched ovec a big frame.
the frame is set between the sun and the stage.
suppressing shadows like this is more efficient than trying to counterbalance with reflectors.

Craig Chartier September 18th, 2006 08:29 PM

Well, 4x4 boards that ride on grip trucks, are in a yoke that tilts ,rotates and can be locked in place. They also use the 4x4 foamcore board, mostly to give the board stiffness, and a thickness so clamps can be used to hold the board in place, 4x8 sheets can be purchased at an hardware store. then Lee or Rosco make several types of hard,soft, gold or silver media. that is on 4 ft wide rolls. spray adhesive to tack it to the board, 2 inch cloth tape around all four sides to keep the material on the edge, and keep the board from flaking apart. You can also find 4x8 sheets of insulation board that already has a soft silver side. The foil board will not work well outdoors if your recording sound.

Gabriel Yeager September 18th, 2006 08:48 PM

How would Diamond steel plating work? could that be done?

Steve Witt September 18th, 2006 09:26 PM

Home builders source type warehouses that cary the styrene type foam insulation boards for basement walls. These are "extremely lightweight" and are covered with a tinfoil like reflective surface on both sides. Only one board of this should be reasonable cost. Size is 4x8 feet. Keep it huge or cut to custom size and shape with just a knife.

Tom Tanquary September 18th, 2006 10:21 PM


Originally Posted by Steve Witt
Home builders source type warehouses that cary the styrene type foam insulation boards for basement walls.

I'd go this route first, they have worked for me. Cheap, light, and totally disposable. Cut to size with a simple knife. Almost no investment in your time to get them. Also those windshield heat reflectors that are shiny silver on one side work pretty good, last a long time, and fold up for storage.

Like mentioned above in a post, reflectors only lighten shadows, not soften them. But if you use diffusion (to soften) you have to compensate for the loss of light level with the iris or pumping in more light from another source.

There's a saying in Hollywood, "No one looks good in direct sunlight." Which is why films/TV shows/commercials always shoot outdoor scenes backlit and then use a reflector or other lights to "pump up" the levels. This is by far the best solution if you can control the scene and pick the backgrounds. But sometimes you can't.


Shawn Nelson September 19th, 2006 12:53 AM

other solution
The above mentioned solutions of just getting cheap foam and attaching aluminum foil or spraypainting will definitely work but they won't look good. Sometimes if you are just experimenting then it doesn't matter if it looks crappy but the more pro you are the more seriously people will take you. Anyhow, my point is I learned a trick a few weeks ago when out crewing for a friend's super 16mm short. Buy a 22x24 solid reflector gel (the kind you can't see through). You can get then from B&H for like $6.50 apiece in either hard silver, bumpy silver, hard gold or bumpy gold. Then go out and buy a 24x30 white foam core board from Wal-Mart or wherever. Usually available for like $3. Cut down the foam core board to be just slightly bigger than your gel and put black gaf tape (like ductape but much better) all around the edges to firmly secure the gel to one side. Then wala, you have a very nice looking hard reflector that's white on one side and some other color on the other side and only cost you $10. Then if you have other money at your disposal, get a Matthews C-stand and Afflac clamp to hold it in place (people holding it will drift during the shot).

Dean Sensui September 19th, 2006 01:02 AM

I have a piece of 4'x4', 1/2"-thick foamcore upon which I glued aluminum foil using spray adhesive.

The aluminum foil was glued matte-side up. Lots of throw. We shoot the stand-ups for our show with this and it provides a heck of a lot of sunlight on the talent.

We've been doing this for the past couple of years.

By the way, our talent has been getting darker and darker. Maybe sunscreen will help? :-)

Bill Ball September 19th, 2006 05:40 AM

It's worth mentioning that you can buy basic reflectors pretty cheap. For example Amvona sells a 40x60 5 surface reflector (including silk) on ebay for around $100. It is the collapsible kind. If that fits the need it may be easier to just get one and have a PA hold it. I get by with those and white foam core and black foam core (for flags/negative fill).

Ralph Keyser September 19th, 2006 10:51 AM


Originally Posted by Gabriel Yeager
How would Diamond steel plating work? could that be done?

It could, but it would be heavy and it's probably cheaper to buy a real reflector. Truthfully, lots of things can be used as reflectors. Different surfaces provide different looks and types of light. Over the years, I've used poster board, sheets of plywood, styrofoam insulation (including the lid to a cooler one time), my producers aluminum clipboard, shower curtains, bed sheets, car hoods, well, necessity is the mother of invention. The nice thing about the things that are designed to be reflectors is the ease in getting them mounted in something that will hold them steady and the quality of the reflected light.

BTW, just to be clear -
A reflector reflects light off of one of its surfaces and you use the reflected light, while a diffuser modifies light as it passes through the object and you use the projected light. They can both be used to fill shadows, but they are different beasts and can't often be substituted for each other.

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