The Little Things Matter Most

Thinking about the products that have had the greatest impact on our working lives and we usually think about the pricey new camera, editing platform, or perhaps a new series lens. And that’s understandable. But when it comes to practicing and perfecting our craft every day it’s the small things that ultimately make the most difference in the quality of our work.

Fig 1a C-standsWS

This morass of C-stands and flags cluttering a set is a familiar sight to filmmakers everywhere.

Take such industry staples as gaffer's tape and black wrap, two simple inventions we very much take for granted today yet truly cannot envision life without. These products created little splash when first introduced, decades ago, yet have had arguably more impact on our lighting craft than most anything else in terms of how we ply our trade.

Fig 1b C-Stand Clutter2

Effective lighting requires attenuating or eliminating errant light from objects or set elements not helpful to the intended story.

Fig 1c w_Cutters

The trimming and/or exclusion of undesired light in a scene is usually via a hodgepodge of unwieldy flags and cutters.

Straightforward accessories like the Snapgrid egg crate and Snapbag soft box from DOPchoice are very much in this category of little things that matter most. These inexpensive, seemingly lowly additions to one’s kit are nonetheless highly effective and rugged as hell, and can save a typical filmmaker or newsgatherer a boatload of time and hassle in the course of a typical shooting day.

Fig 2a DoPchoice_Snapbag-Snapgrid

A DoPchoice Snapgrid affixed to a 1×1 LED or other large source can substantially reduce C-stand use and clutter. The simple grid does not entirely eliminate the need for C-stands and flags, but it can reduce one’s dependence on them.

Fig 2b Snapgrid twist

The Snapgrids are remarkably rugged and can withstand an almost unlimited amount of abuse.

Hooking easily and conveniently over a 1×1 LED array or 4×4 standard steel frame, the Snapgrid egg crate can obviate the need for a slew of C-stands and cutters, a true blessing for shooters who find the usual C-stand hauling drill a withering, body-numbing affair. And if you have any doubt about the construction quality of the Snapgrids, Snapbags, and Butterflies, just try to mutilate or annihilate one of the darn things. It can’t be done, short of the application of explosive charges.

Fig 3a DoPchoice_Self-Tightening Softbox

Munich-based DoPchoice produces simple hassle-free Snapgrids, Snapbags and Butterfly grids.

Fig 3b Astra Softbox affix1Fig 3c Astra w_Softbox mounted1

The Snapbag softbox eliminates entirely the hassle of a speed ring, and it sets up instantly without the customary wrestling of obstinate support rods. 

If you are, like me, a fan of Rembrandt and the Great Master painters, you prefer large sources to help soften shadows and produce a more flattering effect overall, especially on actors’ faces. The use of oversize sources, however, through 4×4 or larger frames and light boxes, introduces a loss of control, with the resulting need to rein in the abundant spill radiating out in all directions.

The collapsible grids and soft boxes from DoPchoice are convenient and simple to fit, which means you’ll actually use these accessories and not leave them in the van or grip case. They affix to a 1×1 LED like the Litepanels Astra with simple elastic bands. The elegance of that solution is made possible only by the low heat output of modern LED instruments.

Fig 4 BF_slider

DoPchoice’s Butterfly grids are offered in six sizes for most common rectangular frames, plus custom sizes. 

Effective lighting demands careful control, which means excluding unhelpful light from a scene. To the extent that conventional flags and C-stands are a hassle to transport, set up, and adjust, many filmmakers may be tempted to forgo this level of control, producing less than optimal results. The Snapgrid and Snapbag products from Munich-based DoPchoice largely eliminate the effort and inconvenience that usually accompany effective lighting control. For the itinerant shooter in particular, these simple low-cost products are a godsend.