Pop Out Photography Reflector or Chroma Key

Introduction: Pop Out Photography Reflector or Chroma Key

About: Special Effects designer, nerd, maker, a monocle and high collared cape away from being a mad scientist.

When I was at the store to see how much it would cost for another piece of video equipment, in this case a pop out reflector, I could not belive what I saw. $300.00 for a 3' diameter one! $300.00!!!! What!?!?! For a chunk of reflective cloth and some fish tape!?!??! I could see all my beer money disappearing when it came to me in a flash of light... or maybe it was just a random reflection from one of the reflectors on the wall.... meh! what ever...

And thus a ible was born.....

Pop out reflectors are nothing more than fabric, 2" ribbon and some fish tape. What is fish tape you ask? It is the flat spring steel that electricians use to 'fish' wires behind walls. You can buy a 25' roll of the stuff for 15 bucks.

-Sewing machine
-Side cutters (in my case I used vice grips as there is a heavy cutter in the crotch of the mouth of the tool)

Raw materials:

-For a reflector shiny cloth (you can also use white for less bounce of light) I got some discount bin silver stuff for 3 dollars a yard and I got 2 yards
-For a chroma key get some kermit the frog green cloth. 
-Roll of fish tape (you can get this at HomeDepot)
-Tie wire
-2" Nylon edge tape
-Thread needles and other consumables for your sewing machine

Also here is a instructable for a lighting system I use as well LINK

The full build is covered in my podcast below at time 6:28 and at MechanicalMashup.tv. You need to double click the video to get it to play for some reason... As well some other ibles are mentioned in the first half. Was it one of yours?

AHHH HA! to get the movie to play on my computer I needed to click on the movie once and hit the spacebar. I have no idea why clicking the play does not work....

Step 1: Cut to Shape and Sew in Edging

 Ok this ible is painfully simple 

-Cut out the roundish shape of the reflector or the chroma key (I fold it twice in half with the folds at 90 degrees to each other and only cut once for a neat symmetrical shape, watch the video above if that does not make sense to you)
-Sew one side of the 2"  nylon sewing tape to the fabric with half of it hanging over the edge
-Fold over the tape
-Sew again to make a tube to fit the fish tape into leaving a gap at the end to put the fish tape in 

Step 2: Insert Fish Tape and Close Up the Ribbon

 Now through the gap you left in the ribbon loop feed the fish tape through the tube. (note you can make you life much easier by filing the sharp corners off the end of the fish tape. Once you have popped out the other side leave at least a 3 inch overlap for the tape before you cut it with the side cutters.

Next use the tie wire (you may be able to get away with tie wraps here I do not know but it may be worth a try) to join the two ends of the fish tape once you have the cloth taught but not so taught that it potato chips the reflector or chroma key. If you tie it up with 2 or three tie sections the fish tape will not slip (at least so far for me). One thing to note to is that it seems the maximum size for this kind of thing is about 5' x 3' after that they get quite floppy.

Sew closed the opening in the tape.


Ok, ok yes there are wrinkles but as long as you dont care neither does the light that it reflects. Think of it this way you pay 270.00 for the wrinkle free version. I prefer to use that 270 for things like feeding the family and a beer or two.

Also yes I know there is a green key with a reflector mixed together in this ible... I am pretty sure you can figure things out. If not watch the video at the beginning at time 6:28 to figure things out

Now to fold these up place one hand on the reflector palm side towards you and one palm away from you and rotate them together as if you are clapping and it should roll up neatly 
Here is a youtube vid on how to do it

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    3 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Brilliant!!! Thank you for sharing! I am totally going to make this :)

    I hope it's okay to offer a few tips on the problems that you pointed out - as I am a sewing MacGuyver...

    To make the larger ones less "Floppy" - you could try doubling up the Fish Tape...

    The Wrinkles can be avoided by making it double sided and joining the two fabrics, wrong side together, using a lite bond interfacing. (Could also help with the floppiness too)

    Then at the curves, cut out little V-shaped notches, no more than 1/4" - 1/2" in, about every 1/2 inch to inch apart. That should take care of that!

    I am impressed though - a man not afraid to use a sewing machine! Nothing but respect ;)


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Brilliant. I had the same sticker shock when looking at the reflectors.