December 30, 2013

Introducing the Airbox, an Inflatable Solution to Light Diffusion

Airbox-light-1As much as the right camera plays a role in getting cinema/professional quality images, lighting also plays is a key factor. Getting that much desired diffusion applied to your light source to avoid harsh light and bold shadows (unless that's what you're looking for), means using diffusion tools, like a soft box and/or an egg crate. Enter the Airbox inflatable softbox. News Shooter has done a great review of the Model 1x1, which works with 1x1 LEDs, offering accessories, like a honeycomb grid diffuser and puncture repair kits. Continue on to check it out.

The Airbox comes in several sizes: the Airbox Mini for on-camera lighting, the Macro for any LED between 4" and 8" wide, the Model 126 for 6"x12" LEDs, and the Model 1x1, which, as you might be able to tell by its name, fits any 1x1 LED panel. (Check out their site for light compatibility.)

The cool thing about the Airbox is that, of course, it's inflatable, which could pose serious problems should you face any fatal punctures that the repair kit can't fix. But, on the upside, they're compact and lightweight, meaning you can take them pretty much anywhere. Also, they're inexpensive!

Here's a video demonstrating how to set one of these bad boys up:

Here's News Shooter's review of the Airbox 1x1. Check it out below:

Depending on what you buy, the prices for each of these ranges from $19 (for just the egg crate) to a $130 kit. The Airbox 1x1 kit retails out to $99.99 (a kit with a grid diffuser will cost you $129.99) and is their most expensive offering. Check out their full list of products to see what fits within your price range.

What do you guys think of Airbox? Do they seem like a good diffusion option for you? Let us know in the comments.

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16 Comments

I own one, they're awesome.

December 30, 2013 at 10:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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marklondon

hmmm these would have to be made of some fairly durable plastic to survive more that one or two sets. This could be good for talking heads and corporate type stuff but I don't see this coming into play on any sort of longform narrative work.

December 30, 2013 at 10:19PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Jerome

...and you'd be a little bit wrong (I'm guessing it was designed primarily for interviews too).
Used it two weeks ago as my go to fill on a TV pilot length drama (7 day shoot). It survived fine.
It saved me a ton of time over other possible solutions. Its so light you can put it and the light on a very small stand and move it instantly, versus putting up a scrim/diffuser on a separate stand etc. Worked very well in the small practical locations. Also used a LOT in outdoor situations just to lift faces a touch.
I think these guys are on to a winner.

/not affiliated with them in any way.

December 31, 2013 at 3:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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marklondon

i have one of these. its pretty good. I use it the 312 LED on a couple music videos since June of this year.

December 31, 2013 at 4:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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I just put a piece of silkscreen between the transparent diffuser and its works very well diffusing it as the original diffuser on most of them are just too transparent and not really diffusing it. I have soft boxes but seem when using those I loose too much light with those.

December 31, 2013 at 5:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Very nice! Though, I don't really understand, what's the point of making it inflatable instead of something more like the standard softbox design? If the velcro backing simply accepted lightweight, even plastic rods and clamped them securely- I think it would allow for larger sizes without the hassle of extra blowing....?

Though I could see this being hacked to have some cool effects that would be hard to achieve otherwise, filling it with different colored gasses and liquids, etc.

Definitely an innovative, thoughtful product for cool lights. Thanks for sharing.

December 31, 2013 at 5:55AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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I use these a lot. They're good for eyelights.

December 31, 2013 at 6:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Danny

Just went through the whole online ordering process only to be told they don't ship to the UK.

December 31, 2013 at 6:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Fresno Bob

Scratch that - lots of UK suppliers do

December 31, 2013 at 6:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Fresno Bob

Time to break out those inflatable Pool Rafts! lol #DIYDONERIGHT #NAILEDIT

December 31, 2013 at 8:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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John

I've worked with Tom, the co-owner of the company, a few times. He's a talented gaffer and seems very committed to supporting his product. I don't own any so I can't vouch for the product, but I can vouch for the guys behind it!

December 31, 2013 at 1:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Chris

If only it were water proof.

December 31, 2013 at 2:51PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Anthony Marino

Very good products. It's useful for the lighting effect

January 2, 2014 at 9:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Seems like a great idea but it doesn't seem that much bigger than the light it's strapped to. I've worked with a lot of still photography light modifiers and size matters when it comes to making soft light. Would love to see a bigger version of this.

January 6, 2014 at 2:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Rob

I agree with Rob, it looks like it only margnally increases the size of the source. So, if it's only use is to even out the harsh shadows from the LEDs, a simple diffusion gel does the job pretty well. Now, I didn't use the product myself so I could be wrong.

January 8, 2014 at 2:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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William

Hi folks. Thanks for your commentary, here are some responses:
1 @jerome- they're pretty durable. I've used some of the same demos for several years now, and one of the demos I use at trade shows is hooked up to an automatic inflator/deflator continuously for 10 hours a day when I'm at shows. And it's still fine.

2-@chung Dha- diffusion- I purposely made the diffusion pretty light on the two larger models, but put a sleeve on the front so you can add your own diffusion, to taste. The Macro, for smaller lights, also has a sleeve for extra diff. It's double-diffed right now, although in future iterations I will replace the frosted rear panel with clear so that users can define the diffusion level more to their own specs.

3- @David Komer- they're inflatable so they can pack up and set up really quickly and simply without having much weight to them or any parts to lose. It also makes them more affordable. Since it's flexible plastic, they're not too picky about how you stow them, shoved in a pocket is acceptable.

4- @ Rob- the various models are actually a pretty significant increase in surface area over the original lights, which is still a big improvement over putting diffusion right on the face of the light. The Macro fits well on a 312 LED. A 312 LED is 5x7, 35 square inches. The face of the Macro is 7.5" x 10.5", 78.75". More than twice as big. Think about the difference between a 4x4 frame of diff and a 6x6 frame of diff- it doesn't look that much bigger but its more than twice as large and much softer.

@Rob - bigger versions- we sell them to fit lights as large as 13"x13". Testing softboxes much larger than that has proved to be less useful since the volume of air required to give them shape increases exponentially . Perhaps one model, very slightly bigger is in the future, but the 1x1 is proving to be a very practical size.

5 - @William re: simple sheet of diff ought to do the job- That's the thing, unless you get the diffusion off the face of the light, away from the little LEDs, the beams dont have a chance to overlap and merge and evenly fill the source. Try this at home: hold a piece of diff right by the LEDs, and see how much of the diffusion is filled and what the output looks like. Then move it just a few inches away and you'll se a radical improvement in softening. The light beams need to spread a bit first before they hit the diff. That's the reason I got into this venture; I saw a lot of camera ops piling diffusion right onto the face of their Litepanels, to little avail and grreat light loss. some years later, inflatable softboxes.

@nofilmschool- is it legit to mention that I'm having a 10% off sale on Amazon right now? http://www.amazon.com/gp/aag/main?ie=UTF8&asin=&isAmazonFulfilled=1&isCB...

sincerely yours,
Tom Guiney
owner/inventor Airbox Inflatable Softboxes for LED Panels

February 19, 2014 at 4:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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