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Chimera Softbank

written by Shane Hurlbut, ASC

@ShaneHurlbutASC

The power of the Chimera Softbank is great if you don’t have a whole lot of gear. This light is a one-man band machine. It is a creamy beautiful machine you can use as a key light, and I thought it would be great to showcase an interview style lighting setup with my daughter Kyra. With the Chimera Softbank, we are using the power of one stand, one light, and one beautiful softbox to contain and control the light. No flags or grippery are needed so if you don’t have all the stands, the diffusion, the waterfalls, and everything else, it’s no problem. They even have all different sizes, a medium, small, very small, large, and daylight balance, as well as diffusions you can change. On Chimera’s site, you can see all the different types of lightbanks they have for film and video.

Notice we’re only using one stand.

Notice we’re only using one stand.

Using Diffusion with the Chimera Softbank

Starting with the diffusion, I want this to be really soft and creamy, so I’m going to use the chimera full cloth. Today I’m using a medium, but they have all different sizes. I’m going with the thickest diffusion, but you can go to 1/4 grid, 1/2 grid, or even put a baffle in there and double diffuse the light.

Now that we have the Chimera full grid diffusion, let’s fire the light up and bring it up to 80%. You can really see the difference in quality of light in the side-by-side comparison below.

Side by side comparison of the before and after of the Chimera Softbank as a key light on Kyra

Side by side comparison of the before and after of the Chimera Softbank as a key light on Kyra

Compared to the image with the Chimera Softbank off, the light we’re getting with it on is pretty contained. There is still some light flying around in the background, but there isn’t any light flying out the back of the light, and there’s no light flying onto the white ceiling.

If you bounce a light into a piece of beadboard and put a booklight diffusion in front of it, the light will be all over the ceiling. The great thing about this Softbox is that it only directs the light to exactly where you need it.

Concentrated Light

Say we want to make the image have even more contrast. We have this beautiful soft light on her, but let’s contain it even more so that there isn’t light illuminating the background. Here’s the current lighting.

The current lighting on Kyra. We want to contain the lighting even more.

The current lighting on Kyra. We want to contain the lighting even more.

To contain the light, we have a 60˚ honeycomb.

The honeycomb concentrates your light so it’s only on your subject. You can see this effect when I just ever so slightly move the position of the honeycomb. When I angle the honeycomb, I disappear.

Notice now you can’t see me when I change the angle of the honeycomb.

Notice now you can’t see me when I change the angle of the honeycomb.

Now we’re going to put the honeycomb on. The honeycomb fits in nicely and snaps right in easily with Velcro.

Putting the honeycomb on the light. It attaches with Velcro.

Putting the honeycomb on the light. It attaches with Velcro.

Take a look at the before and after comparison below. With the honeycomb on, there is less light flying into the background and I’m not illuminated. There isn’t a bunch of spill happening in the background, and your eye is directed to Kyra. The Softbank completely contains everything, and we are left with a beautiful image where the light is just where we want it.

Side by side comparison, without the honeycomb, and with the honeycomb on in the current image

Side by side comparison, without the honeycomb, and with the honeycomb on in the current image

Notice the background is less illuminated in the current image with the honeycomb on the light, and the overall image with the honeycomb has more contrast

Notice the background is less illuminated in the current image with the honeycomb on the light, and the overall image with the honeycomb has more contrast

Conclusion

The Chimera Softbank is great because it can be used as a key or to create beautiful, creamy light. The honeycomb contains the light so you don’t have light flying onto the background, and there also isn’t light coming out of the back. With just one stand, one light, and one Softbank, this is a great solution, especially if you don’t have a whole lot of grip gear.

All videos were edited on HP Z840 workstations using HP Z24x DreamColor monitors.

Technical Specs:

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9 comments

Brad T December 9, 2015 at 1:03 PM

Great post Shane! Awhile back in the IC you mentioned to a poster who was having problems controlling a bounced key in a small room that a Chimera Medium Video Pro with a grid would give you beautiful soft light and control like you wouldn’t believe, with next to no grip required. I was also having problems controlling the soft light I wanted in small spaces and took your advice to the poster and purchased my first Chimera. I just wanted to say thank you. My production value has gone up considerably, especially when shooting in homes with 8 ft ceilings. I’ve shot some of my best looking interior shots to date because of the light control this afforded me. It was great advice! I wish it was one of the first pieces I bought for my kit when I started out. Keep up the good work and great articles. Cheers.

Reply
Shane December 14, 2015 at 9:35 PM

Yeah baby!!! That is awesome. Glad I could help and thank you for the kind words.

Reply
Josiah S December 21, 2015 at 7:29 AM

Hey Shane,

Is there any reason you choose to use the rigid honeycomb grid over the collapsible fabric grids they make?

Thanks

Reply
Shane December 29, 2015 at 4:40 PM

The collapsible ones are only 120 degrees. Imagine the spread out of a light if it is 180 degrees. Then the soft grid will contain 60 degrees of that. A 90 degree hard honeycomb will funnel the light to just a 90 degree spread of the light. The soft grids most of the time do not do much. Plus they tend to sag with their weight and you lose the sweet spot of the light.

Reply
Corey Besteder August 24, 2016 at 11:01 AM

Shane, is there an advantage in using a larger (medium) soft box vs. a smaller softbox? I’m thinking this would create an even softer, more appealing spread of light. Thanks for your time and all your great information.

Reply
Shane Hurlbut, ASC December 16, 2016 at 3:42 PM

What I demo’d was a medium soft box, the advantage is a softer quality of light for sure. Yes you can get a bigger chimera, they call it a large tungsten plus bank but I find that many rooms do not support a fixture this big.

Reply
Oren A September 6, 2016 at 11:45 AM

Hey Shane,
Great post, thanks!
Would this setup be possible with a regular redhead instead of the Arri?

Reply
Shane Hurlbut, ASC December 16, 2016 at 4:12 PM

Of course, no problem

Reply
Ash January 28, 2017 at 4:22 AM

Hello Shane
Thank you very much for all your helpful posts. I learned a lot from them. After watching your videos I purchased few Chimeras with Triolets which I absolutely cannot tell you how much I love them. I am noticing that you are using them mostly with the Arrilite plus 750w. Aside from power, Does the Arrilite Plus 750w flooded inside a medium size Chimera has a greater output intensity than instead using the 1k triolet?! seeing that the Arri has the max reflector design!

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