It seems like every grip truck has a few beadboard / foam bounce boards in the package, they are lightweight and very useful in a variety of lighting scenarios. I recently needed a few of these in various sizes for small local jobs, and decided to build my own. For about $20 in materials, I was able to build a set ranging in size from 24×36 to 42×42.
Most shooters already have a flexfill of some kind in their kit, but I often need a reflector with some rigidity to it. These little do-it-yourself bounces are just the thing, they are light yet still rigid, and can be bent if need be. It's ultimately just a foam board with the edges wrapped in gaff tape, so this certainly isn't rocket science…but I did find a few things along the way that are worth sharing.
I initially wanted to order from expendable supply places like FilmTools, but they only ship gatorboard and foam core material in bulk quantities. I don't need $1000 worth of foam, so I had to look locally for some resources. The foam type that I landed on is a polystyrene insulation foam at 1″ thick and comes in a standard 4×8 foot sheet. It has a bright white foam side, and a reflective silver side. This is very similar to bead board, sometimes called gator board. I found it at Lowe's, and I'm sure you can find something similar at your local building supply store.
The silver side is a film adhered to the foam and it has a natural dapple to it…so it's a softer bounce quality than an undiffused shiny board. I also tried a higher density foam in a 1/2″ size, and it didn't work nearly as well as the 1″ variety. If you have a smallish SUV like me, ask for a razor at the store and just cut the sheet in half before you leave.
I'm using 2″ gaff tape to wrap the edges of the material – this keeps foam bits from shedding, and it seems to add strength as well. I also discovered that the silver side of these boards take spray paint nicely, so I painted the silver side of a few my boards with matte black and textured gold finishes. You could do whatever color you wanted, I suppose, if you had a specific bounce lighting scenario you needed to solve. I was talking with a gaffer friend, and he suggested gluing muslin fabrics on the board for some different finish options…that's a great idea and a project for another day. Time to do some fabric shopping at JoAnn.
Standard sizes on a grip truck would be 4×4 feet, and I've seen them in a 42×42 inch size as well. 24×36 is a standard flag size, so that would also a good choice. I don't have large vehicles for transporting my gear, so I ended up going with a few 24×36 boards, one large 42×42, and a 4×4 board as well. For those who aren't good at math (like me), you can cut four 24×36 boards out of a 4×8 sheet of the polystyrene.
These all work nicely handheld and propped on stands, but I'd also recommend picking up a few Matthews Quacker clamps to mount them on stands. These clamps aren't cheap, but they work wonderfully with 1″ foam and are built like tanks.