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Application of Silver Reflectors or Shiny Boards


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#1 Ronald Gerald Smith

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Posted 02 March 2011 - 06:09 AM

I'm familiar with using bounce boards and 6x6 ultrabounce outside in the sun but I have not put so many shiny boards to use so I wanted to learn from your experiences with them.

What are some of the ways that you all have put these to use both outdoors and indoors?

Do you all like to use them mostly for creating an edge for the subject? Maybe at the front of the subject you can light them with direct sunlight diffused with silk and then you can give them an edge on either side with a shiny reflector bounces? I know there are tons and tons of ways to use them probably but I wanted to get an idea of what you all like to do.

As for practical application of the shiny boards, do you like to bounce direct sunlight or is that too harsh for your taste? Do people bounce ambient non-direct light at subjects for main frontal key light or fill light? (sorry if I sound like a noob using terms like key or fill light but that is the best way i can describe it at that moment). Would bouncing non-direct sunlight with shiny boards be ineffective or totally inefficient? I know that it's not the best idea to do it with white foam core or bead board because it doesn't reflect much light at all but maybe shiny boards would be more effective at bouncing non-direct light than foam core?

And if you have any other ideas for using shiny boards that would be very welcome and I would appreciate it.
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#2 J. Lamar King

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Posted 03 March 2011 - 01:57 AM

You can use them lots of ways. Some of the common ones are to bounce back the sun as a kicker in a front/side lit situation or bounce the sun back as Key in a back lit situation. It's common to send it through a 4x frame of Hi-lite or the like to soften it up. You can also knock it down with a net. The soft side from a ways back works great on men just like it is. The problems you can run into are the changing sun angle and the area it lights up is actually kind of small.

I use them most often to push light into dark holes like car interiors, tunnels, entry ways, tents, bridges, overhangs, car ports etc.
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#3 Daniel Russel

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 11:35 AM

Use them in the same way as you use your bounce boards and notice the differences between both...

Then you have hard silver, mirrors, dappled silver, shiny (insulation) foam boards and even sun covers for car windscreens..

And then if you're lighting actors/talent, you have skin tone to take into consideration..

Like with all lighting, if you have the biggest luxury of all to your avail, time, play around with different surfaces to see the results for yourself..

It is really down to personal taste but a handy 1 by 1 fill bounce in a tight corner is always appreciated if need be..

Hope this helps and have fun!
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#4 Tom Jensen

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 12:26 PM

Shiny boards are pretty hard and intense so they are usually used at longer distances to throw light where you cannot put a light because of physical restrictions or on wide shots where you may be looking to fill a dark hole or something.
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#5 Eileen Ryan

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Posted 04 March 2011 - 07:26 PM

What are some of the ways that you all have put these to use both outdoors and indoors?


As a gaffer in New England (about which Mark Twain famously quipped “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and it will change”) I don’t find boards to be very effective. The problem is that boards require the sun, and where I work the sun is unpredictable. Not only does it move, but weather moves in front of it. They are great when the sun is out, but as soon as a cloud moves in there is no way you are going to be able to cut footage together.

I’ve learned the hard way that it is not safe to go outside without a lighting package – especially if we are shooting a dramatic scene with a lot of coverage. But, you don’t need a very large lighting package. If you plan your shots properly, you can get away with nothing more than a 4k Par and 1.2 Par which you can run on one of the new 7500W Honda EU6500is/Transformer gen-sets that provides a single 60Amps/120V circuit.

The approach that I find works best is to shoot the establishing master shot when the sun is out and its’ position offers the best modeling or effect. I then shoot the coverage under a full silk and/or when the sun has moved into a backlight position. Shooting under a silk offers a number of advantages. If the sun pops in and out, the silk takes the directionality out of the sun and knocks down its’ level by two and half stops. Now a smaller HMI light will model your talent to mimic the establishing shot - where without the silk you would need an 18k. The ideal situation is to wait to shoot the coverage until the sun has moved around to a back light position. When in this position, you are shooting into the shadowed side of the talent so small lights, like 2.5/4ks, will have even more of a modeling effect. Shooting into talents' down side under a silk, I find that a 4k Par through a diffusion frame is a sufficient key source for a two shot. And, as the sun goes in and out of clouds, a 1.2 kw is usually sufficient to bring back the edge of the sun through the silk that was lost.

With the sun in a back light position, your background is also back-lit so the discrepancy in exposure between when the sun is out and behind cloud cover is not that great and so is hardly noticeable. Also, when your background is back-lit it does not over expose because of the discrepancy in levels under the silk and outside the silk – it helps to strike a good balance. Also, your background looks better because it is not flatly lit, but has some contrast. Finally, with the sun in a backlight position, when it comes out, the shadows of the silk frame and stands are thrown forward, which enables you to frame wider before picking up the shadow of the hardware.

Posted Image

The production still above is a good example of this approach. As you can see from the umbrellas covering some of the ballasts it has been raining. But there is blue sky, so obviously they took this approach to maintain continuity between when it was overcast and raining and when the sun came out. Having made the decision to start under a silk with lights means that their coverage will cut together seamlessly. Had they used boards, there would be a noticeable difference between footage shot when the sun was out and when it was under cloud cover.

Eileen Ryan, Boston, Gaffer
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#6 Ronald Gerald Smith

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Posted 05 March 2011 - 06:05 AM

Eileen thank you for that breakdown- it's very helpful to me and i'm sure it'll provide a great resource for other students as well.
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#7 Daniel Russel

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Posted 06 March 2011 - 09:19 PM

Totally spot on!
Thanks

As a gaffer in New England (about which Mark Twain famously quipped “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and it will change”) I don’t find boards to be very effective. The problem is that boards require the sun, and where I work the sun is unpredictable. Not only does it move, but weather moves in front of it. They are great when the sun is out, but as soon as a cloud moves in there is no way you are going to be able to cut footage together.

I’ve learned the hard way that it is not safe to go outside without a lighting package – especially if we are shooting a dramatic scene with a lot of coverage. But, you don’t need a very large lighting package. If you plan your shots properly, you can get away with nothing more than a 4k Par and 1.2 Par which you can run on one of the new 7500W Honda EU6500is/Transformer gen-sets that provides a single 60Amps/120V circuit.

The approach that I find works best is to shoot the establishing master shot when the sun is out and its’ position offers the best modeling or effect. I then shoot the coverage under a full silk and/or when the sun has moved into a backlight position. Shooting under a silk offers a number of advantages. If the sun pops in and out, the silk takes the directionality out of the sun and knocks down its’ level by two and half stops. Now a smaller HMI light will model your talent to mimic the establishing shot - where without the silk you would need an 18k. The ideal situation is to wait to shoot the coverage until the sun has moved around to a back light position. When in this position, you are shooting into the shadowed side of the talent so small lights, like 2.5/4ks, will have even more of a modeling effect. Shooting into talents' down side under a silk, I find that a 4k Par through a diffusion frame is a sufficient key source for a two shot. And, as the sun goes in and out of clouds, a 1.2 kw is usually sufficient to bring back the edge of the sun through the silk that was lost.

With the sun in a back light position, your background is also back-lit so the discrepancy in exposure between when the sun is out and behind cloud cover is not that great and so is hardly noticeable. Also, when your background is back-lit it does not over expose because of the discrepancy in levels under the silk and outside the silk – it helps to strike a good balance. Also, your background looks better because it is not flatly lit, but has some contrast. Finally, with the sun in a backlight position, when it comes out, the shadows of the silk frame and stands are thrown forward, which enables you to frame wider before picking up the shadow of the hardware.

Posted Image

The production still above is a good example of this approach. As you can see from the umbrellas covering some of the ballasts it has been raining. But there is blue sky, so obviously they took this approach to maintain continuity between when it was overcast and raining and when the sun came out. Having made the decision to start under a silk with lights means that their coverage will cut together seamlessly. Had they used boards, there would be a noticeable difference between footage shot when the sun was out and when it was under cloud cover.

Eileen Ryan, Boston, Gaffer


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#8 Michael Kosciesza

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 12:05 PM

A few days ago, I did a exterior car scene lit with only the sun. It was a nice warm, bright winter day, we couldn't ask for anything more. (Except for maybe a HMI haha) But for a low budget short that was not an option so I brought my reflector boards for control knowing we'd need them. Once we started blocking the actor we found the sun light was being blocked by the car's roof so we had to take out our reflectors to bounce light into the cab and key him in. We used the silver side to keep the outside color temperature the same. The gold side produced a weird warm tone that didn't match the outside. I found reflecting the suns light onto the board produced a more white light and was quite harsh from close distance. You defiantly have to experiment with distance from reflector in relation to the subject. Keep the reflector still so the light doesn't move on the actors face.

Here is a still from the shoot.
Bruce Still 1.jpg

Eileen Ryan is right, with no sun, no reflection, with no reflection, no light, and with no light, you're stuck. We ran into this problem that day. Crew call was around 7AM. We set up our jib, monitor, audio, etc... by the time everyone was ready it was about 10. Production ran smoothly until about 2PM, when the clouds rolled in, and the sun faded away. We had no light source and were still filming car interiors. We turned off the ND filter, opened the iris, but the picture was still dark. It obviously didn't look the same. With no other option, we stopped filming.

What I would have done different:
There was a bit of light leaking in and spilling onto the passenger seat. I would have placed a white board on the seat aimed at the actor in the drivers seat to fill him in. Also, a small battery powered LED light would have worked in the cab for a more reliable light source. A 6X6 silk on C Stands would be nice to block off any hard light bouncing off snow creating a blown out image. Next time, I'm going to try getting the hardest beam I can off the reflector and bounce it onto a white reflector board placed outside the windshield, hoping this will spread the lighting a little more.

A lot of what you can do depends on the equipment you have available. When you are limited, you really have to think about your setup in advance. Scout out the location, look up weather from a few sources, take a few stills so you can map things out, get people who will not mind holding up a reflector for a number of hours.
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#9 Michael Kosciesza

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Posted 11 March 2011 - 12:14 PM

Here is another still. You can see his face is brighter then the ambient cab light. The reflector was aimed at his face from closer distance and is more spotBruce Still 2_11.jpg ted.
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#10 Ronald Gerald Smith

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 08:11 PM

Yeah the second still with the reflector looks pretty harsh/unnatural. The first still looks pretty nice and natural.
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