Learn how to diffuse light cheaply and effectively.
Knowing how to diffuse light is an important skill to master when shooting a film because it allows you to soften hard shadows to give your subjects a nice, even spread of light. However, many new filmmakers 1.) don't know how, 2.) think they know how, but didn't learn correct information, and 3.) think that diffusers are well outside of their price range. To help with all three of those issues, Todd Blankenship of Shutterstock Tutorials shares a few tips on working with diffusers, including how to set them up and what kinds of material are both effective and inexpensive. Check it the video below to learn more:
If you're worried about having to spend your rent money on diffusion, don't be. As you can see from the video, as well as tons of other videos, cheap stuff like shower curtains, T-shirts, sheets, garbage bags, and wax paper do a pretty good job of diffusing light. Hell, at $15 a pop, even professional 24" 5-in-1 reflectors are too cheap to pass up.
So really, the issue with diffusion material isn't the price, it's not knowing how to properly use it. Almost every new filmmaker I've ever seen has plopped a sheet right against their light source expecting to see a huge difference in the way the light behaves, but it doesn't work that way. When using diffusion, the idea is to disperse the light evenly and over a wide area so you can soften all of those dark shadows a hard light creates, and the best way to do that is by making your light source as "big" as possible.
Putting diffusion right over your light doesn't change the size of your source as much as it would if you placed it a few feet away. Think of the sun. On a bright, sunny day, the shadows on your subject's face are much harder because the light source is relatively small. However, on an overcast day, the shadows are much softer because the clouds, which are incredibly far away from the sun, have turned the sun into a much bigger light source.
What are some other diffusion tips? Share them down in the comments.