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    Softbox Versus Bounced Muslin
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    I was experimenting with a lighting setup. I wanted to see how a softbox compared to using light bounced off of unbleached muslin. Here’s what I saw:

    https://youtu.be/5mV9ORtYBKY
    What do you mean funny? Like a clown? Do I amuse you?! Huh??!!


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    Nice work, great tutorial and comparisons. Random question, what the name of that reflector?


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    #3
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    Thank you! I think it's made by Neewer. I believe I put a link to it in the description below the video. If not, I will do so soon.
    What do you mean funny? Like a clown? Do I amuse you?! Huh??!!


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    Senior Member puredrifting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thefilmaddict View Post
    Thank you! I think it's made by Neewer. I believe I put a link to it in the description below the video. If not, I will do so soon.
    I like your video, very nice examples.

    My experience with things like unbleached muslins, book lights and bouncing versus softboxes are all about efficiency and control.
    Bouncing light off of large sources can give a very nice quality of light on the talent but also sprays light indiscriminately all over your set. If you have enough separation between
    camera to subject and especially from subject to background, falloff is your friend and you can separately light your BG. In smaller rooms though, bouncing is generally a way to
    add frustration if you are trying to craft an image where you have carefully controlled the lighting ratios between subject and background or sometimes subject and foreground.

    The other factor for many users working on smaller scale projects with lower power lights is about output efficiency. Bouncing light subtracts a significant amount of your output
    compared to softboxes where you can better control how much output is lost to diffusion. Same with book lights, I love the look but rarely have enough room and power to use
    them. These factors are much easier to deal with with when you have a gaffer, grips and some 4Ks and 6K lights or larger. When you are lighting on your own for a small set up
    like a single subject interview, I generally go to a large softbox over bouncing because it's just so much more power and control efficient.

    A lot of it depends on the look you are trying to create also. Working on features and big TV shows with some of the best DPs, I have observed that many of them like lighting through
    windows from outside with huge sources like 18 and 20ks. They might add some fill or hero lights on set but for that naturalistic look, nothing like emulating the sun and how the light interacts
    coming through a window from outside. I rarely have all of the resources to light that way as I don't light big features and TV shows myself very often so you do the best you can with
    what resources (lights, crew and sets) you have available. I lit a two host live stream last night. Last night was rehearsal and tonight is the live stream. Two talent, sitting in theater seats, distanced, about 10' apart.

    I am lighting them with your same Godox VL300s through a 47" softbox with a 40 degree egg crate, cross keyed from about 8-10 feet away with the VL150 through a 35" in softbox on the
    opposite side for fills. It's a flat, soft high key look because that's what the client wants and they look good, if a bit flat for my taste. If I had the crew and resources, I could have keyed them
    with bigger sources through a 6x6 or 8x8 unbleached muslin but it would have taken a lot of flagging to mitigate each key so it wasn't spilling onto the opposite talent. Same with bouncing,
    light would have been going everywhere and it would have been a big, soft wash over the whole scene, in the end with a lot more gear and work. Because I am using the egg crates, the fall off
    on the seats behind them is decent and I used a third VL300 with the barndoors and the honeycomb grid to make some cuts and light up the seats behind them.

    From a practical standpoint too, I can fit my five Godox VL300 and 150s and the five large softboxes easily in my small car. Even a folding 6x6 or 8x8 frame and the grippage needed to hold and position
    them would require a vehicle. That's where the efficiency comes in. Larger bounced sources require more "stuff" so if you are out on location all of the time and working
    from your car and not a 5 or 10 ton or even a van or pickup, bounced large sources can still be used but it's not nearly as space and resource efficient.

    Different strokes for sure but for me, I have to be shooting something with resources to consider using large, reflective sources.

    IMG_9483.jpg

    IMG_9487.jpg
    Last edited by puredrifting; 12-09-2020 at 01:30 PM.
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    Very informative input. I agree 100 percent.

    One thing that is interesting about Muslin bounce is that it lights the entire room. Like you said, that's not always a good thing, but it might be in a shot where people are moving all over the room. In other words, you are lighting the room, not just the subject. I also agree that if you want to control the bounced light, you'll need flags and ways to control it if you don't want a flat look. I did that to some extent with the black negative fill, but would have to do a lot more work to really control it.

    I liked doing this exercise to see what would happen. I am trying to learn as many ways as possible to light. In the past, I just stuck with just softboxes.

    Seriously, I really appreciate your knowledge on the matter. I learn a lot from you guys.
    What do you mean funny? Like a clown? Do I amuse you?! Huh??!!


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    I like your set. I always want to add shadows/drama. The client always says: Can we get rid of that shadow? LOL. It's always a little give and take.
    What do you mean funny? Like a clown? Do I amuse you?! Huh??!!


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    Senior Member Eric Coughlin's Avatar
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    Dan, what makes you say bouncing a large source requires more gear? I've been using an 8 x 8 silk, held by two basic light stands (in other words, not big combos), and that setup requires minimal gear. Just two stands and a silk. If I want to flag it off from the background, I can either setup a single flag like a 5 x 5 on a stand with a grip clamp, or use a black sheet and attach it to one of the two stands holding the 8 x 8 and then add a third stand to support the other end of the black sheet.




    Here I'd added the 5 x 5 as a flag for the background not yet setup in the first photo.








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    That’s a really nice room for shooting. That silk produces gorgeous light.
    What do you mean funny? Like a clown? Do I amuse you?! Huh??!!


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    Senior Member puredrifting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Coughlin View Post
    Dan, what makes you say bouncing a large source requires more gear? I've been using an 8 x 8 silk, held by two basic light stands (in other words, not big combos), and that setup requires minimal gear. Just two stands and a silk. If I want to flag it off from the background, I can either setup a single flag like a 5 x 5 on a stand with a grip clamp, or use a black sheet and attach it to one of the two stands holding the 8 x 8 and then add a third stand to support the other end of the black sheet.

    That's true, you can do it the way you are doing here and your final shot looks very good. But it's a single subject in a decent sized room with some depth so you have the room
    to use a 5x5 flag, to flag off the rear wash and to setup your large key and have enough distance between it and diffusion. It all depends on how much room you have and what's located on the sides and behind talent.
    If you don't have depth or at times, the width in the room, it means all of that soft light could be lighting up white walls to the side or much closer to the subject. Another factor for lighting the way you are here is if you want to emulate "Rembrandt" lighting, I like my key to come in higher to
    emulate a window. With your key source at ground level, you are back to using a frame, stands and sandbags to put that 8x8, 6x6 or even 5x5 up into the air to get a key direction from up higher, which at times, I like doing.

    What if you had two subjects, distanced say 10 feet apart and you need a two shot and plus crossing singles? Then you not only need the room and depth to flag off the BG
    but you also need to flag off each crossed key so you aren't lighting up the nearer talent with the wrong source? Using loose diffusion on stands too means moving or adjust the
    source diffusion could require moving two or three stands versus one, which as you know when one man banding, eats up crucial time.

    Neither way is right or wrong, I'd say it comes down to preference. I've lit in a very similar manner to what you've shown here and it can look really nice, but it definitely requires more
    room and is more involved to control. For the situations I've been in lately, which are a lot of live stream fundraisers, there have been some interesting lighting challenges. The fund
    raiser four camera shoot I lit on Friday for a live telethon last Saturday, production had rented two 70" black monitors. Of course the bezels were VERY reflective black so it took a huge effort to
    relocate and flag even my same softboxes to give me the lighting I wanted and to get the egg crate and source reflections off of the TV bezels and corners of the screens. Lighting
    using huge floor bound sources would have made the elimination nearly impossible. I deal with the same thing all of the time with eyeglasses on talent. A large, ground bound source
    will reflect like crazy in a lot of talent's glasses. At least having softboxes, I can quickly raise and off axis the whole soft source to quickly eliminate the reflections in their lenses. If Scott Staph
    had been wearing cool reflective lens glasses or sunglasses, with your key source done in this way, it would have been pretty difficult to remove the reflections, where a smaller softbox up on a stand, it's easier and quicker.

    Of course, every situation is different and every DPs style is different. I love using large sources but for client work where often I don't get to choose the location, whether talent is wearing glasses,
    etc. shooting with large reflective sources carries more risk in potentially causing lighting challenges too.
    Last edited by puredrifting; 12-09-2020 at 11:39 PM.
    It's a business first and a creative outlet second.
    G.A.S. destroys lives. Stop buying gear that doesn't make you money.


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