When shooting outdoors or when trying to lessen the hard output of a powerful light, we often use diffusion to soften the blow. Sunbounce has created the Sun-Bouncer Pro Kit, which allows you to diffuse the light source to achieve softer shadows. Although it’s available in several sizes, I’ll be focusing on the 4 x 6-foot size with a white diffusion screen stretched between the frames.
Sun-Bouncer Pro KitFEATURES
One of the great things about the Sun- Bouncer Pro is that there’s not that much to it. It arrived in an easy-to-carry shoulder bag and the device’s frame is assembled from five aluminum pieces: two long-frame members and three shorter cross members that slide into place.
When the unit is mounted on a C-stand (or just handheld, Hollywood style), you’re ready to go with this diffusion source. Whether it’s placed in front of a studio or portable light, used outdoors to shield the sun, or as a bounce fill light source, this versatile piece of fabric is ready to be used in just moments. In addition to being available in several sizes, there are also several fabric choices—the zebra/white combo I reviewed offers slightly lower color temperatures, basically providing the same look as you get with a warming filter such as the 81A. The double-sided feature provides you with a choice of altering color temperature with the zebra side or keeping things as they are with the plain white side.
The unit is just as easy to take apart as it is to assemble, which quickly makes it an essential tool for any shoot where softer light is desired. When a location crew needs to travel as quickly as possible from one shooting area to the next, preparing the Sun-Bouncer Pro for use will not hold up the production.
In a very short time, I found the Sun-Bouncer Pro invaluable on any shoot my students and I attempted. During the warm spring and summer months here in Pennsylvania, the temperatures begin to soar, as does the harsh bright light from the sun. In autumn and winter, the longer and lower shadows cast by the sun can distract from the mood or look of your film. To avoid squinting actors and obtain a softer look when working in direct sunlight, diffusion is the only answer. I’ve found from experience that sheets of paper diffusion material in frames aren’t the answer, as they’re too small and the wind often makes them noisy.
The first time we assembled the Sun-Bouncer Pro, we quickly learned that there’s an order and method in doing so. If you try to assemble the frame with the cross members before you attach the diffusion silk, you have to start all over again!
We found that you have to carefully thread the fabric over both of the longer frame members, making sure that the attaching ports for the three shorter aluminum cross members are facing each other. It’s an extremely tight fit and can be quite frustrating if you spend time getting the diffusion material in place only to learn that you have one of the frame members on backwards. (Don’t ask me how I know.)
Once the fabric is in place, a little muscle is required to attach the cross members. I recommend getting the middle piece in place first and then attaching the left and right pieces.
In contrast, disassembling the Sun- Bouncer Pro for transport is quite easy. You just pull out the cross members, keeping the fabric on the longer pieces and roll it up. (You probably should take it completely apart if you’re not going to use it for a while, but with the constant use that we put it through, this was not a consideration.) If you’re working at several locations and have a small crew to transport the Sun-Bouncer Pro from location to location this partial disassembly saves a lot of time and effort.
On one of our shoots involving a couple of vintage cars and lots of sun, the Sun- Bouncer Pro really came in handy. A grip hoisted the diffusion above his head, shading the talent from the direct rays of the sun. This resulted in a much more pleasant image than it would have been otherwise. The softening of the light on the actor’s face helped to create a backlit effect, with the area behind him being slightly overexposed and “steamy.”
We used the Sun-Bouncer Pro attached to a C-Stand, but as it weighs only four pounds, we eventually found it much easier just to handhold the unit “Hollywood style” in the desired position.
(On past shoots I’ve used our school’s 20 x 20-foot “butterfly” diffuser to accomplish the same job, but over a larger area. Setting up this behemoth takes at least four C-Stands, several people, and quite a bit of time. After working with the Sun-Bouncer Pro for only a short while you soon realize that it’s really all you need for closer shots.)
With the car shoot we were working on, the lead actress was seated in a 1965 Corvette hardtop and the sunlight was being blocked by the car’s roof. Using the Sun-Bouncer Pro as a bounce source, the grip carefully placed the diffusion on the ground and tilted it towards her to add ambient light. (Leaning it directly against an $85,000 car would not have been wise, especially given the finish that it had. Actually we had to be very careful where we placed the Sun-Bouncer Pro to keep it from being visible in the highly reflective sheen of the Corvette’s paint.)
Another feature we discovered while using the Sun-Bouncer Pro is that when you have talent walking and talking with a grip moving along side them and using the diffusion to block the direct sun, the unit is light enough to be handheld for long periods of time.
The only negative encountered while testing was that the Sun-Bouncer Pro makes a very good sail on windy days. (Just make sure your grips are heavy and strong enough so that they don’t blow away in gale force winds.)
Any scene looks better, indoors or out, when using diffusion. The Sun-Bouncer Pro is the perfect companion on any set or location and will diffuse as many as three people at the same time from harsh shadows.
Chuck Gloman is an associate professor and Chair of the TV/Film department at DeSales University. He may be contacted firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image capture anytime softer shadows are desired
Lightweight, portable, fast assembly and teardown, softens any type of light source
(Available through: B & H Photo Video 800-606-6969 www.bhphotovideo.com)