As no-budget filmmakers, chances are we're spending a lot of time trying to navigate the placement of powerfully bright lights as we shoot scenes in cramped areas, and having a way to diffuse light is imperative in order to avoid blowing out your shot. There are so many solutions to this issue, like using bounce cards, reflectors, umbrellas, softboxes, ect., but, like most things, these pieces of gear can be a little (or insanely) expensive. However, also like most things, there are DIY builds that'll save you tons of money without sacrificing quality, and product photographer Tony Roslund is here to show you how to build just such a diffusion panel for only $30 without having to bust out your bandsaw.
Here are the materials you're going to need:
- Canvas stretcher bars (x4)
- Diffusion material
- white gaffer tape
- Razor blades
- Double-sided tape
- A clamps (optional)
Roslund using inexpensive canvas stretcher bars as the frame is a great solution, since they'll only cost you $2 to $3 each and are available in virtually any art supply store in various lengths. So, you could build several of these diffusion panels in different sizes that fit your needs. The diffusion material he uses, Rosco #3008 Tough Frost (which offers medium to light diffusion -- good for close-ups of faces), costs a pricey $125 per roll, but if you buy them in individual sheets, the cost ranges from $8 to $20 depending on the dimensions.
Check out Roslund's tutorial below to learn how to assemble this DIY diffusion panel:
Video is no longer available: vimeo.com/103534460
One concern, I imagine, with these panels is finding a way to fly them without damaging them with a C stand clamp. That's where the A clamps come in handy -- just attach a couple on either side of the panel and run a grip arm under them and allow it to hang. However, you might have to get a little MacGyver to keep the panel from sliding around if you choose to angle the C stand arm for whatever reason.
As nifty as this DIY build is, there are plenty of variations you can (should?) try out to make it the right diffusion tool for your shoot. You might want to try out different diffusion material and framing options, like PVC pipe, lath, or even 1x4 lumber -- even though that might prove to be too heavy. Hell, I could even see myself getting all DIY hipster and making one out of recycled wood pallets. (Oh my gosh, like, I totally need to make a Pintrest for "Super Cute DIY Wood Pallet Cinematography Builds <3 <3" now!) (Seriously -- I probably should. Totes adorbz.)
Do you have any ideas on variations for this DIY diffusion panel?