How to make ultra lightweight giant scrims for diffusion or gels

Mar 2, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

How to make ultra lightweight giant scrims for diffusion or gels

Mar 2, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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There’s a lot of DIY solutions out there for big diffusers, and such. Most of them with either wooden or PVC pipe frame. While PVC pipe is certainly lighter than wood, it’s rather flexible, and are still kinda bulky if you need several of them. In the studio, this isn’t usually a problem. But, if you need to get them out on location, you often need them to be as light as possible and take up little room.

Over at Cheesycam, though, they’ve come up with a great lightweight solution to the problem using screen door & window panels. The system uses aluminium struts, with plastic brackets on the corners. For a quick lightweight solution that packs up small, it’s a great option.

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These kits generally come in pretty large sizes. They are used for doors and windows, remember. Given that most doors are 2040mm (or about 6’7″), then you can easily make a frame that’s at least 2 x 2m in size from a couple of kits. That’s pretty massive by most definitions when it comes to diffusers. Even the window screen kits go up to about 1.5 x 1.5m (5′ x 5′).

With the frame dry-fit together, you just need to attach your diffuser or gel. Then you can attach it to your stand. Cheesycam uses a 9.Solutions Double Clamp. On location, though, I’d probably suggest using a pair of them on one stand to help protect it from any wind. In fact, you might even want to use a light stand on each side if you go with a particularly large frame.

That such frames come in different sizes lends itself quite well to making diffusers and gel holders of all different sizes, too. Being able to take the system apart and switch lengths of aluminium out means you can configure it as the needs of the shoot change. Assuming you still have the diffusion material or gels to cover it.

If you need a more permanent solution, but still want something like weight, you can always epoxy the corner brackets. But this will limit their portability somewhat. You certainly won’t be able to easily just throw them in a backpack any more.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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