The best way to learn how different materials diffuse light is trying them. That’s what Director of Photography Don McVey wanted to do. What he learned is shared in a smartphone app.
Diffusion solutions come in different forms, but they all have one goal: to soften and spread a light beam to reduce the contrast. Now, it is not always easy to know what you want/need, and the range of diffusion filters available makes choosing the right one tricky. LEE Filters range, for example, includes polyester diffusion filters, frosts, flexi-frosts, perforated diffusion, grid cloths and spun materials all in different densities for a wide range of lighting effects.
Director of Photography Don McVey loves hard lights for their versatility, but knows he must either bounce or use diffusion with them, and three years ago, tired of using always the same familiar recipes and aspiring to explore the variety of solutions in terms of diffusion, he asked LEE Filters if it was possible to try their range. When the diffusion filters arrived, Don McVey discovered he had a long adventure ahead. It took Don McVey and Kieron Jansch two full days, after preparation, to create the videos used to not only discover the versatility of the range of diffusion LEE Filters tested, but also the results they allow users to achieve.
The whole story, and believe me you want to read it, is published, with revealing images, in Don McVey’s website. One note from there says it all, though; Don McVey says that “I found it really fascinating to do this and instantly realised I was learning something hugely valuable, that was going to transform the way I light. Going on my next few jobs after doing these tests, I found myself using the video with the director to make sure we were both happy with the look. My hope is that DP’s, whether they are just starting out or have years of experience, can use this video to assist them when choosing the right diffusion.”
The Official LEE Filters Diffusion Comparator was introduced three years ago, and continues, to this day, to be an invaluable tool for anyone, from videographers to photographers, who wants to use diffusion filters. The app enables lighting designers to directly compare different diffusions lighting a model.
While many apps of this type use stills to demonstrate results, this app is built from video clips of a real world lighting setup using a single M8 source and each and every diffusion in the LEE range. The model Andreea Paduraru sat for 2 full days turning her head from side to side, as Don McVey and team went through every diffusion LEE Filters had sent them.
The interface of the whole Diffusion Comparator is well designed, and the fact that you can tap to switch the diffusion in real time, while the video plays, makes it easier to understand the changes introduced. Not only that, but you can also pause the clip and just start switching over different diffusions and see the results reflected on the same image.
The Android version, which I’ve installed, allows you to view the Diffusion Comparator in portrait and landscape views, expanding or retracting the menu. The information about each filter tested, along with notes on its suggested is present over the image, making it easy to access which filter references you’re most interested in. This makes it easier to decide which filters to buy, because you can see the results immediately. And the video helps!
The tool is available on LEE Filters website, where it offers other functions, but the portability of the smartphone versions is, no doubt, important to many. The Official LEE Filters Diffusion Comparator is a great tool to learn more about lighting with diffusion and for creative experimentation before getting on set, and one whose implementation would be interesting to see expanded to other LEE Filters products. The Android version, 1.4, was updated recently, on March 2018, with a minor change to Diffusion catalogue. The iOS version, 1.2.4, was updated May this year, also with a catalogue update.
The Official LEE Filters Diffusion Comparator is another FREE tool from LEE Filters. ProVideo Coalition recently mentioned other apps from LEE Filters that both photographers and videographers may want to add to their smartphones.