New gizmos from NAB? How about the stuff we already have.

NAB 2014 is right around the corner, and no doubt it’ll be chock full of all kinds of whizz-bang stuff that will make us all think, “I must have that thingy!  It’ll make my career skyrocket!”
The tools won’t make your career.  Sorry. What I reckon would be more worth all of our while is trying to figure out more cool stuff to do with what we already have.
Here’s an experiment I did with my trusty old  Panasonic GH2, a very small mirrorless camera that shoot great video.  The newer GH3 is no doubt a bit better, and the GH4 looks like it’ll rise above the crowd, but I don’t think that will remove the utility of the old GH2.

If you’re going to NAB, please stop by the Airbox Lights booth and see what inflatable softboxes can do for plain old LED panels. See the new Model 1×1 and Model 126!  Make ugly into beautiful! Games! Prizes! Gear! All your questions answered!

Tom Guiney
Airbox Lights & Conviction Films, Inc.


Customer questions answered about Airbox Inflatable softboxes

Customer questions about Airbox Inflatable softboxes for LED panels answered:

#1 most common question:

“Why is there no anti-backflow flap inside the inflation valve? This makes it harder to get my softbox all the way inflated.”

People ask me this all the time.   I tried out prototypes with both types of valve, and I settled on the valve without a backflow prevention flap.  I did this for two reasons.  One, I wanted it to be faster to inflate and deflate, and two, with that flap in the valve, its hard to get the softbox all the way deflated.  I was concerned that people would possibly damage the softbox by slamming a case lid shut on it when it still had some air in it.  This may be unfounded, I have yet to receive an email saying someone popped their softbox. Really, this decision was mostly about the speed of inflation and deflation though- I wanted Airboxes to be very fast to inflate and deflate.  If you can’t get it all the way inflated because you lose a tiny bit of air when you close the valve, guess what-  That’s ok!  An Airbox doesn’t have to be all the way inflated to make a unified soft source out of all those little LED beams.  The way an Airbox works is by moving the diffusion layer several inches away from the face of the light, so the beams can merge on the diffusion plane ad become a new soft source.  This still works fine even if your softbox is a little saggy- the diffusion is still several inches away from the light.  You also might have noticed that it gets more taut as you use it, since the light heats up and expands the air inside the softbox.

#2 Does it work as a flotation device?

Yes.  They float.  You can also use them as a pillow. If I had a legal department they would tell me that I have to say that we’re not responsible for the negative consequences of using Airbox products for anything other than as light modifiers.

#3. Are you going to make one to fit lighting unit X?

Send me emails about what sizes you want, and I’ll see what I can do.  On our products page, you can enter the dimensions of your light and the calculator will tell you what softboxes we have that will fit those dimensions. The strap setup on the Macro, the Model 126, and the Model 1×1 allow those three units to work on a pretty wide range of sizes, but there are a few that slip through the cracks.  The Macro will fit on almost all the small units, from 4″ wide at the minimum and 8″ wide at the maximum, and then the next size up is the Model 126, whose smallest compatible light is about 10″ wide. The Model 1×1 was designed specifically to fit on 1′ x1′ panels, but you can get it on to some smaller ones, like the Cool-Lights 600, which is about 10″ x 10″, and I’ve squeezed it on to another panel that was about 13″ wide.

#4. Have you tried filling them up with helium so they lift the light or the camera?

I actually did the math on this; for an Airbox attached to an on-camera light to lift your typical broadcast/ENG style camera weighing 30 or 40 lbs, the softbox would have to be gigantic, like an 8′ diameter sphere. Helium gas, being such a tiny atom (remember your periodic table?) is mostly empty space, and to get that kind of lift you need a huge amount of it.

#5: Do you sell Airboxes in country X?

Our dealers: ships to some countries;  I’ve seen orders go to the US, GB, CA, NZ, and AU and JP.   For mainland Europe orders, stocks our products, as does in the UK.  Proav says they ship worldwide.  Concon International is our distributor in Europe, if you are interested in becoming a reseller, you can contact us or them.  If you want Airboxes and it’s not working for you through any of those channels, email me and we’ll work it out.

Funny commercial for Airbox Inflatable softboxes for LED panels.

With a little help from some friends, made this 30-second commercial for Airbox Inflatable Softboxes for LED panels. Really.  It’s funny.  It does not exaggerate anything. Anything at all. It doesn’t make any exaggerated claims about what our products can do for video lighting.

Doing a big sale for Cyber Monday- 20% off all our softboxes on Amazon!
Use this claim code:  9X43JTW5

Production discussion next time. Budget for whole commercial was under 2k.

Tom Guiney


Off-topic, mostly nothing to do with video lighting or gear or LED panels or LED softboxes

This isn’t about my usual topics, like cool video lighting gear or LED softboxes.

What’s the right thing to do, when you’re loading up your car with equipment for the day’s shoot on a dark rainy morning, when all of a sudden you find someone pointing a gun at your chest? It’s a funny feeling, surreal as much as anything else.  Like it doesn’t make sense. Just finishing loading all the Jokers and Kinos and LED panels and and stands and everything else, and then you see someone walk up your driveway. You wonder who this stranger is, what they want, whether they need help with something, and then you see the silver shiny barrel of a handgun pointed at you. You might shout, you might run, you might freak out. You would certainly be late for work. You might shout once, but find that it sort of strangles in your throat, because you’re not sure what this stranger is like,  this stranger with the bandanna over their face up to their eyes and the wool cap pulled down low over their forehead, the stranger with black-gloved hands aiming a gun at you, might get upset about you raising a hue and cry and shoot you down outside your daughter’s bedroom window. It’s an awkward thing, having a gun on you at 6:42 AM in the rain.

You might just hand over your wallet; what’s worth getting shot for?  But how do you know what state the person is in, whether they’re really in the mood to kill someone, or whether there are even bullets in the gun.

You might be pretty grateful that they just took your wallet and the 4$ that were inside, and didn’t tell you to open up the vehicle and take something very expensive. OR even your phone, which would cost you a bunch to replace but he could only get a few bucks for an iphone 4s with a cracked screen.

So what do you do?  You hand it over, even though you’re thinking what a pain it will be to cancel all the cards and get a new ID. Do you buy a gun?  Mace? Taser? Keep a baseball bat in your car? What good would that do, really? When there’s someone on your, threatening you, are you going to have the presence of mind or the cojones to pull out a bat and attack them?   Install a bunch of outdoor lighting perhaps. Security cameras?  If you’re not safe at home, then where?

The stranger was very professional, very fast, in and out.  He came in very fast, everything about him was covered up, no way for me to identify him. Other than that he was black, adult, maybe in his 30s, 5’10”, 180-200 lbs.  If you can be this good a robber, why not do something useful?

The good news is that I got an email that the first batch of Airbox 1×1 Inflatable softboxes for LED panels are in the air on the way here. And I got another email that B&H is interested in selling them. And I wasn’t hurt, nor did anything bad happen to my family, in bed just a few feet away from where this guy threatened me.

I think he was mad that there was only 4$ in my wallet. But once his back turned on me, I split.  I didn’t stick around to find out how he felt about his take.

I love Oakland, but that sucks.  In my own driveway in my own house. What are you gonna do.  Get over it and move on. And install some motion-sensor lights and things like that. Very soon. Not a nice feeling to not feel safe at home.


Airbox Lights going solo! Inflatable Softbox for 500 LED panels now on Amazon…

It’s been a nutty few days-  made the agreement that I wasn’t going to sell the 2 new Airbox Inflatable softboxes for LED panels through my distributor for the two smaller units, and all of a sudden a load of stuff is my problem, right now.  You’ve borrowed a lot of money to get the inventory, now sell it.  Sell it fast. Go.

So that’s what’s going on here- The new Model 126 is up on Amazon, and we’re doing an early-adopter sale, 10% off.


Ok, we’re doing it now. Business is getting real. No longer a hobby.


Holy Crap! Here come the 1×1 Inflatable Softboxes!!

The factory inflates them all before they ship.  That’s quite a pile of awesome inflatable LED softboxes!




We shot a commercial for Inflatable Softboxes this past weekend also, it’s going to be wicked funny.
Not to give it away, but here are two stills:
We’re going to be selling the new units, the Model 126 for (6″x12″/6″x13″) 500 LED panels and the Model 1×1 (for 1×1 LED panels, obv) directly now on Amazon. Store should be ready for business in a couple of days!
Link forthcoming.  You can also email us to order.
Tom Guiney

Grip Olympics; news from DTC Gear Expo was at the DTC Grip & Lighting Gear Expo last weekend, and there was an event that we’ve all talked about but have never actually seen put together formally:


33The Sandbag Relay

34DTC Office Staff winning Sandbag Relay

The team of ladies from the DTC office won the sandbag relay,  despite the best efforts of Steve Cardellini and his buddies.

steve cardellini and friends at DTC grip olympics with

Why throw them when we can roll them?

There’s something you learn when you get to be an old grip:  Work smart, not hard.  The other teams obediently pulled sandbags from the muscle cart, tossed them to the next teammate, who passed the bag to the next teammate, who tossed it over the line.  Hard work, no? So the cagey old technicians just grabbed their muscle cart, pushed it to the finish line, and dumped all the bags out.  Much faster than the recommended technique and easier on the back.

I was the dark horse competitor in the Cable Wrapping event. Everyone else in the event was well-known warehouse staffers or electricians, but then I came out of the booth and crushed everyone in my first heat.  Alas, in the final round, I couldn’t prevail against a handsome and strapping young gaffer named Evan Davies. He’s 16 years younger than me and in frankly much stronger and faster.  Plus I haven’t wrapped any 4/0 in over 2 years.  But I got a bunch of good cheers!  People liked that an exhibitor got up in the competition.  Next year I’ll show them.

We of Airbox Lights were at the Expo in a booth next to Arri: inflatable softboxes for LED panels and Litepanels

I was showing off a prototype of my new 1×1 Airbox as well as the new Model 126, both of which were very well received.  The larger LEDs like 1x1s and 6″x12″ LEDs are a perfect match for Airbox inflatable softboxes, because they’ve got enough juice that they can afford to be softened up more and made into a larger softer source, and then made controllable with a folding eggcrate.
Here’s a preview of the 1×1 Airbox quality of light on a 1st generation 1×1 Litepanel:

                                                             The only model available in a pinch. Model 1x1 inflatable softbox for 1x1 Litepanels and 1000 LED panels, light demonstration
Nice soft source!  No nasty LED quality here.



The gear that was there that I had a chance to see that I found noteworthy:

Newish lights from Arri:  the M90 , an update to the 6k par with a Max reflector, and the M8, an 800w update to the 575.  The M8 was cool, but the rep said it wasn’t intended as a competitor to the Joker 800. It’s bigger, has the efficient Arrimax reflector, and doesn’t go bug-style like a joker.  Priced a little higher too, at about 8000$.

I liked the idea of a maximized HMI source that still works on 100A bates.  Who doesn’t want more power in a familiar package?
The M8 I was less enthusiastic about- I feel like the M18 pretty much covers that ground already, plus I have a vested interest because I own an 800w joker.  Seriously though, it looked like a really good light.  It has a great flood to spot range and will no doubt be as rock solid as all of Arri’s products.

Barger Baglites:  What I liked is some of the Lighttools crates he’s carrying now. Besides the quick snap-open eggcrates and Octabank sized eggcrates, there’s a new one they’ve got called a CUFocus soft eggcrate.  The fins of the eggcrate are all angled slightly towards the center, so that the light from the frame or the softbox is directed towards a subject close to the frame.  That’s a clever innovation on the regular parallel fins in a soft eggcrate.

The CU focus crates basically “funnel” the light towards one sweet spot, and occlude an increasing amount of light the farther away you get from the ideal spot. In that sweet spot, you’ll still see the whole frame and thus have a nice sift source falling on you, but anywhere else the light falls off quite a lot.

BBS lighting is bringing out a companion to their exciting Area 48 Remote phosphor fixture….
a 1×1 LED Panel! Ummm….   I asked them why they wanted to get into that saturated space, and Toby Sali said that theirs looks the same, but is much brighter and better colored than the competition.  7000-800W tungsten equivalent, 95 CRI.  Ok, great, always happy to see the workhorse products improve. The brighter the better on that light shape.

Other than that, I was manning the booth the whole time.

See you at Photo Plus next week in NYC if you’re there!

Laryngitis at a trade show… At Photo plus, big NYC trade show. Lost my voice! Pretty useless. You know how hard it is to give a sales pitch using gestures only? Fortunately, I had my handy sales video that I could point to.  And my cool Inflate-O-Matic(see below).

Anyway, B & H is doing a show special on Airbox products til the 27th!
Some redemption codes for you:
At least I have my sales video to speak for me:
And cool inflate-o-matic to show people they’re inflatable!
Inflato Video:

Award for Airbox! Light Breakup, milk crate management

The news:  Airbox Inflatable Softboxes has been getting some great press lately, most notably getting the DV excellence award from DV Magazine and  I’ve put it all in one place on Pinterest.

What else has been happening?

Ok brain teaser:  What the heck is going on here?

26An impromptu and odd rig I came up with at the behest of DP Dave Scardino.

It’s some scraps of opal diff hanging in front of a light acting as a breakup, but to give it a little bit of life he was asking around for a fan.  The only fan I could find was the internal cooling fan in the 1200 ballast.  So ok, let’s get that ballast up in the air and aim its exhaust vent at those scraps of diffusion!  Whatever works, right?



Here’s another notably useful technique I’ve observed for managing large numbers of milkcrates. Make a furniture dolly by putting casters on the bottom of a piece of 3/4″ plywood, with holes drilled out in the middles of two opposing sides.  Hook a ratchet or motorcycle strap into the two holes and strap it down over the top of the stack of crates.



29The problem that it solves is a common one- lots and lots of milkcrates full of expendables or hardware and  needing them to be portable but still quick and easy to stage up or get into. You can easily load and transport them en masse, or you can break out the crates of just the materials you need.

Custom-made steel carts are great, but they don’t subdivide and organize the way this system does, nor do they hold as many crates usually, plus they’re quite expensive. Ari Boles, the LD on Top Chef and other Bravo shows, came up with this technique to organize the huge amount of expendables, bulbs, kino parts, hardware and other small parts that are essential to reality show lighting installations.