Blackwrap: Aluminum Foil on Steroids
Updated: Apr 13, 2020
In terms of getting the most bang-for-the-buck, there is seemingly one production tool more valuable than all others: Blackwrap. Blackwrap also called Cinefoil is the trademarked name for a very heavy-duty, black matte, aluminum foil-like material that is a mainstay of gaffers and lighting technicians. In the ancient days of production, say before the 1980’s, many a cameraman would ask the lighting technician or gaffer, to spray paint standard aluminum foil a matte black. It would be used to more tightly control lighting sources, acting like supplementary barn doors or snoots. The problem with this approach was obvious: durability under the high heat sources it was meant to control. In close proximity to a super-hot, old incandescent 1000-watt light, the foil was short lived. But there are just certain lighting control issues that need the quick finesse provided by foil or the crew would prefer to have one less c-stand and flag combo cluttering-up the shooting space.
Enter Blackwrap. It is really amazing stuff in that it is sufficiently thick and durable so that it can hold its shape, is heat resistant, and it’s black!
Need to mask an unwanted light-leak from the side of a lighting instrument? Use Blackwrap. Need to control distracting reflections from a surface, or create a “snoot” to tightly control a light source? Blackwrap. If it is suddenly raining outside on that expensive lighting instrument, a Blackwrap “tent” can provide quick, durable protection. Need to throw a random lighting pattern on a surface like a cookie? Put a piece of the wrap in front of an instrument and punch some random holes in it. Best of all, Blackwrap is sufficiently robust to be reusable. I have known some shooters to reuse a single piece for literally years.
But don’t take our word for it. Blackwrap won a 2004 Outstanding Engineering Achievement Emmy. It looks humble but is mighty and in the overpriced world of production equipment, an incredible value.