My first encounter with Cinefoil – or as I like to call it “mystery black foil” – was when I was assisting a friend of mine on his photo shoot. He was photographing a still life/table top scene, and needed directional light. Instead of using a snoot (which he did not have access to) he grabbed a box of black foil. I have to admit I was quite confused when he pulled out a sheet, tore it off, and proceeded to roll it up in a snoot shape. I asked what in the world was that mysterious black foil?? My friend explained that it was basically aluminum foil, but anodized. It’s primarily used to attach to lights (or their barn doors) to act as flags, or snoots, or even cut into to make a more diffused light effect. It’s also ideal to use in a situation where the light is quite hot and acts as a replacement for a cloth flag, which could possibly burn in a hot light. He rolled up this foil in a cone shape and attached it to the light with clamps, and presto! Directional light! I was amazed by this neatness. I instantly wanted a box of this stuff!
This encounter with Cinefoil was at least 6 or 7 years ago. Since then I have used it plenty of times. It has come in very handy. Cinefoil can be purchased in different sizes and comes in a rectangular box – just like cooking foil. But it is more stiff and bendable than regular cooking foil. You could roll it up and use it as a snoot, or just clamp it onto lights to act as barn doors, or even slice lines into it so that it can act as a gobo to throw irregular light and shadow shapes on a wall. If you are planning to invest in a new lighting system, or want to experiment a bit before purchasing lighting accessories, Cinefoil is a great way to do this! It is also a bit reusable. You can re-use a sheet a few times before having to toss it. Also: you could use it on strobes, modeling lights, or a flash. Cinefoil is pretty versatile and portable! Just the way we photogs like it.
Some brands of cinefoil include: Rosco, GAM, and Lee. The price ranges anywhere between $20.00 and $80.00, depending on the size you get. A box of it will last you quite a while, so it’s money well spent, if you ask me.