Home LightingDIY SIC Preview: How to Build DIY 4×4 Frames

SIC Preview: How to Build DIY 4×4 Frames

written by Shane Hurlbut, ASC


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The whole design of this DIY 4×4 is something I did back in the day when I was starting out in the movie business, and we didn’t have cool aluminum frames. The frames we had were like the little wrought iron frames that surround the flag. They were very small, bent easily in the wind, and it was hard to affix the tape to them because they had a round surface, not a flat surface. I didn’t have the money to buy frames, so I built them myself. Back in the day, I was responsible for building over eighty of these things.

Usually to get an aluminum frame, you’ll have to spend $120-$130.00, including shipping costs. To make our DIY version, it’s going to cost us just $25.00. You can make it with tools you have just laying around your house.


This is the perfect DIY home project. Slap on a little paint and call it a day – you’ve got a nice homemade frame. Pair this with some homemade diffusion, perhaps a shower curtain. Create another frame to hold some DIY bounce and you’re pretty well set up. Everything can pretty much be improvised and done yourself with a little ingenuity and handiness.

To follow along step by step and download the plans for the project, visit Shane’s store. We’ve got this bundled up with some other great articles on DIY lighting. Learn about metal halide sports fixtures, the headlight gag, DIY bounce solutions, how to build the perfect key, and more! 

Get this now in The Filmmaker’s Guide to DIY Lighting


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Dale February 3, 2016 at 11:20 PM

Great if you had a PDF template to down load for the ears connecting to the stands.

Shane February 4, 2016 at 10:18 AM

Great idea Dale. We’ve added a jpg into the post.
Here you go – http://www.thehurlblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/HBV_For-0203_DIY-4×4-Frames-PRINT.jpg

H Lawrence February 5, 2016 at 4:50 AM

Great . . . now how about building some inexpensive C-Stands. lol

Justin D February 6, 2016 at 8:15 AM

Hey Shane,

Thank you for putting the time and effort into these. I find your lens tests particularly useful to watch.

Obviously tell me if I’m wrong, but it looks to me like this design can’t easily articulate and tilt to the angle of the light. It only tilts on one axis. In which case, you’d need to tilt the c-stand arm to achieve an angle that is parallel to your light source, which obviously throws off the weight of the stand and can be dangerous. This is why I think using a pin to grip makes more sense for a 4×4. Is there an easy Home Depot solution that could add a pin instead of the ear?

Also, as a DP in New York, I gave away all of my DIY gear because I ran out of space. Is it worth having dozens of these laying around when I can rent them for less than $5 a piece from a rental house? DIY gear can be great when you’re a student, but eventually everyone should realize that it becomes much less complicated to just have production rent the gear and insure it and deal with the pickups from a rental house. That being said, certain items you can’t get from a rental house – like batten strips, Chinese lanterns, any incandescent medium based fixture design I guess (anything that uses household incandescent bulbs).

Last question, I rarely see you post anything about LED. Are you not a fan of the technology? I found the Arri L7C and Skypanels are incredible and basically do away with the need for gels. I also like the Litegear Litemats, because you can velcro 8 of them to a ceiling diaper with Muslin and skirt to create a huge soft box with practically no footprint. They can also run off battery power.

I’d be curious to see a post about LED design. The pros and cons.

Thanks for the time and effort!

Alexander February 7, 2016 at 11:33 AM

Use a 3/8ths or 5/8th bolt instead of that wooden ear.

Shane February 18, 2016 at 7:31 AM

Hi Justin. Yes of course. I will look for that and offer it.
LEDs are the good, the bad and the ugly. 90% of them do not look good. I use KINO FLO Celebs in everything I do as well as the Cineo HS, Fiilex LED line and Rosco Light pads.

krys v February 7, 2016 at 12:36 AM

thank you

Will Vincent October 9, 2016 at 10:47 PM

H Lawrence:

I came up with a design about 9 years ago for DIY c-stands using plain old black pipe & fittings from the big box stores. Unfortunately of the images have since been lost, and I no longer have any of these stands in my possession..

I based my design on this: http://www.diyphotogear.com/cstand1-1.html

The modifications I made allowed the legs to fold unlike the one outlined there, making it more portable. Wish I still had photos to show you the leg section, basically I used a smaller diameter pipe running inside the TEEs for the middle and upper legs, so that they floated freely on it and were able to spin around the shaft. Otherwise, I think the design was pretty much identical. They could safely be extended from 5 1/2 feet up to about 9 1/2 feet. You’d still need to get an actual grip head, and they won’t be as stable as a real c-stand.. but if you’re REALLY strapped for cash, $30 will get you a workable stand (sans grip head).


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