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How to Build a Giant Soft Box on the Cheap

Cinematographer Shane Hurlbut of the Hurlbut Academy recently shared a great DIY tutorial in which he shows you how to build a giant soft box using just some foam core and a few lengths of 1×3-inch wood. The result allows you to create a large, soft light source without breaking the bank.

This video is actually part of a 30-lesson “free sampler” that the Hurlbut Academy put up on its website, and while the target audience is definitely filmmakers, there’s no reason why many of those lessons couldn’t come in very handy for photographers as well. This giant soft box is a great case-in-point.

Huge light modifiers are notoriously expensive, and while this creation is certainly less convenient than a professional pre-built option like this Chimera F2X 5×10-foot Lightbank, it will cost you a whole lot less than $4,300 to build and deploy in your studio.

The build itself involves five basic elements: white foam core for the inside layer, black foam core for the outside layer, several lengths of 1×3-inch lumber, fender washers, and drywall screws. Putting it all together is just a matter of cutting the foam core and 1x3s to size, and putting it all together with the dry wall screws; the fender washers simply give the screws more surface area to “grab on” to the foam core and keep things stable.

When it comes to mounting the thing, that’s where you’ll need to get creative depending on your situation. Hopefully any photographers who are using something this size in their studio will be mounting it more-or-less permanently to the ceiling so you don’t have to keep raising and lowering it, but that part is up to you.

To see the full build process, mounting instructions, and watch as Hurlbut and his team put this DIY softbox to use on an actual set, check out the full video up top. And if you want to see more budget lighting tips from the Hurlbut Academy, check out their YouTube channel for more helpful tutorials like this one.

(via ISO 1200)

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