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Best fabric to take the edge off direct sunlight, without feeling too soft?


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#1 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 10 October 2016 - 06:01 AM

Alrighty folks,

 

I need a little help here. I'm trying to find a diffusion fabric that works well in 'direct sunlight' type situations.

 

I want something that takes the edge off the sun (particularly when it's high overhead), but still leaves enough of a specular quality, and some shape to the shadows across actors' faces, that it doesn't draw attention to the fact that the light has been softened.

 

I find that half soft frost is transmissive enough that faces still look appropriately bright enough (compared to the background being hit with direct sunlight), but it softens the shadows too much.

 

Does anyone have any recommendations?

 

I'd be looking for something I could get in 12x12 sizes.

Cheers,

Mark


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 October 2016 - 07:47 AM

You only lose something like 1/3 or a 1/2 stop under Half Soft Frost so it's hard to find something much lighter -- if it's higher in the air, the effect is less soft compared to only being a few feet above the actors' heads.

Silks have more of a tendency to let specular light leak through so maybe you want to experiment with 1/4 Silk.
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#3 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 10 October 2016 - 04:56 PM

Funny, the only thing I've found that doesn't look like you've suddenly put your actors under shade is a completely clear non-frosted plastic shower curtain.  Haha.  I know it's pretty low rent but it works. Not sure how you could put 4 of them together for a 12x though.   but for closeup coverage in a scene where the master had no diff, it'll match well.

 

 It cuts the harshness and doesn't draw attention to itself.  I wish there was a silent fabric that mimics Hampshire frost but I have yet to find it.


Edited by Michael LaVoie, 10 October 2016 - 05:00 PM.

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#4 Matthew Parnell

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Posted 10 October 2016 - 07:49 PM

1/4 Silk(also known as a voile) or Hi-lite are perfect for these situations. Both are very different.

The hi-lite is a little like Hampshire frost in that it softens off how hard the shadows are, but doesn't do much in terms of contrast. Hi-lites are heavier and a little less manageable in the wind than a 1/4 silk.

I find the 1/4 silk allows a fair bit of hard light through, so it doesn't drastically reduce light levels, but makes things less contrasty and fills the shadows a bit more.
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#5 Matthew Parnell

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Posted 10 October 2016 - 07:51 PM

I'd class both as being silent in normal conditions.
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#6 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 12 October 2016 - 06:24 AM

Thanks guys, I think that I really want is exactly what you mention David - Half Soft Frost, but rigged higher up above my actors. Unfortunately, I'm not quite up to the budget level for flyswatters yet, so I'm stuck mounting it on combo stands, and that doesn't quite get me there.  

 

So I'm going to shoot some tests with 1/4 silk, 1/4 grid and hi lite and see how they compare.

 

I've also heard of perforated hi lite, which sounds like it's probably what I'm looking for (but could be a pain to maintain) I'm going to see if I can source some of that as well.

I stopped using silk a few years ago, because I generally hated the results I was getting from it. It seems to do nothing much to shadow quality, and mostly just to contrast (sort of lifts the shadows without softening their edges), which I found pretty unpleasant when I first decided to give up on it.

 

But with hindsight on my hands (and a growing distaste for the 'permanent softlight' style that seems to have become the norm in everything I'm seeing) I'm thinking it's time to revisit it and see how it compares.


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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 October 2016 - 09:46 PM

If you want neither softening of edges nor lowering of contrast, then why diffuse at all? You might as well just try a single or double net scrim at that point.
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#8 Mark Kenfield

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Posted 12 October 2016 - 11:49 PM

No no, I do want softening of edges, that's the primary thing I'm looking for - I just don't want too much of it.

 

I want nose shadows and dimples on faces to feather off a little so they're not unflattering, but I need them to still have enough shape that it doesn't look like the actors have suddenly stepped under shade.

The issue I'm having with Half Soft Frost (limited to the height of combo stands) is that it softens a little too much. I think basically what I want is a Quarter Soft Frost... problem is that doesn't exist.


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#9 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 13 October 2016 - 12:06 AM

I doubt you'll find any rag lighter than 1/2 Soft Frost that's specifically made for movie work. For a DIY approach you could maybe try clear visqueen stretched over a frame, but how different that would be, I don't know.


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#10 JB Earl

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Posted 14 October 2016 - 05:40 PM

I know a guy who swears by very heavy visqueen.  It's available 12 foot and wider, but wind will be a problem.  It is just enough to smooth the shadow edges but maintain the sunlit look.  Very little exposure change.


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#11 Sandy Tworkowski

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 06:03 PM

Funny, the only thing I've found that doesn't look like you've suddenly put your actors under shade is a completely clear non-frosted plastic shower curtain.  Haha.  I know it's pretty low rent but it works. Not sure how you could put 4 of them together for a 12x though.   but for closeup coverage in a scene where the master had no diff, it'll match well.

 

 It cuts the harshness and doesn't draw attention to itself.  I wish there was a silent fabric that mimics Hampshire frost but I have yet to find it.

Funny is right.  Funny that you should mention that.   I had done a lot of work at the EUE studios in NYC and that's what was used continuously.  Nothing that huge, but an excellent material for that purpose.


Edited by Sandy Tworkowski, 13 November 2016 - 06:03 PM.

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#12 David Landau

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Posted 13 November 2016 - 08:28 PM

You might want to look at the products from the rag place -

 

http://www.theragplace.com/ 

 

They make a wide range of materials and can customize the size.


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#13 JD Hartman

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Posted 14 November 2016 - 06:41 AM

You might want to look at the products from the rag place -

 

http://www.theragplace.com/ 

 

They make a wide range of materials and can customize the size.

 

Great resource.   They and LA Rag house can provide a number of options, but the OP is is in Australia and shipping for most anything from the USA is prohibitively expensive.


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#14 andrew ward

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Posted 22 November 2016 - 09:04 PM

Hilite will give you that magazine look but its annoying.

Shower curtain is awesome but hard to find these days?

Black silk?
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#15 JD Hartman

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Posted 23 November 2016 - 06:32 AM

Hilite will give you that magazine look but its annoying.

Shower curtain is awesome but hard to find these days?

Black silk?

 

Black silk, same as white artificial silk without the bounce. Not what he's looking for.  Shower curtain, for vinyl try a plastics supplier.


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