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Old September 23rd, 2007, 07:03 PM   #1
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Green Muslin paper or otherwise - cheap sources?

I am thinking about getting some cheap muslin paper - large. Does anyone know of a cheap source larger green material for green screens?

Do they make the paper table clothes for restaurant in that chroma green?

I have two light stands with a connection pole that I am using to hang it from.
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Old September 23rd, 2007, 08:33 PM   #2
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Not sure how large or how cheap you want... Rosebrand sells 10 foot wide Poly Cyc fabric in either digital key green or chroma key blue for $14.50/yard: http://www.rosebrand.com/product644/...nfo=poly%2bcyc
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Old September 23rd, 2007, 09:45 PM   #3
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I am thinking about getting some cheap muslin paper - large. Does anyone know of a cheap source larger green material for green screens?

Do they make the paper table clothes for restaurant in that chroma green?

I have two light stands with a connection pole that I am using to hang it from.
Muslin is not paper. It is a cotton based fabric. You could go with super sheer paper style green sheets, but a hazard posed by this is in the use of the lights you illuminate your screen with. If the screen is too sheer, it could easily illuminate objects behind the screen, which would complicate your keying in post.

I have used a few different sized Botero muslin green screens for a few years now, and I got excellent results from using muslin in keying, however, I often had to question the investment of effort involved, because getting the wrinkles out of the muslin for a clean key is a royal, time-consuming pain in the a**. (I used the Botero screens that fold up into those circular sleeves because I needed the portability, - however rolling those damnable things back up to fit into the sleeves seems to require genius-level smarts that I don't have - and would generally result in my being in a bad mood for about 3 days.)

I recently started using the foamcore backed screens from www.eefx.com and in my experience, they have produced the cleanest, simplest, worry-free results for my keying needs. I'm extremely glad I started using these.

-Jon
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Old September 24th, 2007, 12:45 AM   #4
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Seamless paper might be what you want, I've ordered this and it works great:

http://www.thepierceco.com/bkgs/chroma-key.htm

I've purchased it in 12 foot rolls. This retailer was excellent to deal with, as well.
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 10:00 AM   #5
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I see muslin pretty cheap online (auction site) -- my question is "is all muslin created equal?" I have seen reviews in places that state it is like "bedsheet" material. To me, a good muslin will be a little thicker, tougher material. I also think this would help make it truer to it's color and will prevent anything being shown behind it (opacity) in the event of bright lighting.


btw I also looked at some Lastolite backgrounds and also hear they are "transparent" under certain conditions. To me this makes them no better than any other?
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Old February 3rd, 2009, 05:45 PM   #6
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It sort of depends on what your time is worth.

If you have lots of free time and don't mind spending a lot of it on unwrinkling the fabric, then working extra hard to get a good key, you can get by with almost any kind of background material.

However, if time is money then give the fabrics at EEFX.com a good look. It unwrinkles quickly (if you roll it you don't have to unwrinkle it at all) and is easy to light up evenly.

It's also very tough.

Paper is a one-time use if anyone steps on it. It can tear or get creased. Paper also easily gets hot spots since the surface is always slightly reflective. The EEFX fabric has a fuzzy surface and ends up looking very even.
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Old February 5th, 2009, 08:41 AM   #7
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give the fabrics at EEFX.com a good look. It unwrinkles quickly (if you roll it you don't have to unwrinkle it at all) and is easy to light up evenly.
Great source, exactly what I've been looking for,
thanks Dean.
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Old February 6th, 2009, 10:36 AM   #8
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I see muslin pretty cheap online (auction site) -- my question is "is all muslin created equal?"
Muslin comes in a variety of widths and types. Bedsheets may very well be muslin, but they would be bleached and pre-shrunk muslin. Many years ago I designed a little set for a dinner theatre, which they built themselves. When I saw it, everything was all wrinkly and terrible. I asked why, and they had used bedsheets instead of raw muslin. The sheets don't shrink and stretch like the unbleached muslin, and painting them makes them sag and wrinkle.

The muslin you buy in quantity from a vendor like Rose Brand is unbleached and will feel much more coarse than a bedsheet. It is usually sold by the thread count and you will see numbers like 128, 144, etc. I believe these are the number of threads per square inch - higher counts are "denser". The low thread count musliin will be very thin and you can see through it. Paint will also soak all the way through.

The raw, unbleached muslin has not yet shrunk. For theatrical use, this is what we want. Traditional scenic construction uses this type of muslin attached to a wooden frame, called a "flat". You glue/staple the muslin around the outside edges of the frame somewhat loosely. Then when you put the first coat of paint on it, it will shrink and form a tight, (hopefully) wrinkle-free surface. Same principle applies when painting a large backdrop which is stapled down to a wooden floor or "paint deck". This is all very similar to an artist stretching a canvas on a frame, but much larger of course.

There are two other classifications to look for - Flame Retardant (FR) and Non-Flame Retardant (NFR). The FR kind may be desirable for certain uses, but for our construction here at the opera company we rarely (if ever) use it. The flameproofing compound consists of mineral salts, and if you paint it a dark color these salts rise to the surface when dry and will leave ugly white stains which are really hard to get rid of. Generally, the FR muslin is only used to make white (or pre-dyed blue) sky drops or "cycloramas". For all other purposes, we use the NFR muslin and then mix flameproofing compound into all our paints.

And you can get muslin in all different widths, starting at 3 feet on up to about 34 feet wide. This huge stuff is actually woven on a 34 foot wide loom. We sometimes use this to create translucent drops which are painted with dye and lit from behind to create a glowing, unusual look. You wouldn't want to have any seams showing on such a drop.

Sorry for the stagecraft 101 lesson, but that's what comes from a life backstage...
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Old February 27th, 2009, 09:58 AM   #9
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Sorry for the stagecraft 101 lesson, but that's what comes from a life backstage...
No problem at all. Thankyou for the valuable response! I never thought about the threadcount.

Thanks everyone.

JS
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Old February 27th, 2009, 10:04 AM   #10
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The flameproofing compound consists of mineral salts, and if you paint it a dark color these salts rise to the surface when dry and will leave ugly white stains which are really hard to get rid of.
I've seen this on muslins close up and never knew what the reason was. Thanks for sharing, Boyd. Another "useless" factoid I can bring up at those cocktail parties I'm never invited to...
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Old February 28th, 2009, 02:56 PM   #11
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Speaking of flameproofing... whatever you use for a backing should really be fire retardant. Large pieces of paper or fabric can burst into flames, and hot lights can be a good source of ignition. Some of the synthetic fabrics used for cycs and drops are considered "inherently flame retardant" (IFR). If you try to light them on fire they melt and extinguish themselves. Of course they may emit toxic fumes in a fire though. Muslin needs to be treated with flameproofing compound, and over time it loses its effectiveness. When in doubt, cut off a little scrap of the material and try to ignite it.
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Old March 1st, 2009, 05:19 PM   #12
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I see muslin pretty cheap online (auction site) --
That's because it sucks. I have a few and I got what I paid for.

If you are doing greenscreen work, muslin is NOT the way to go.
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Old March 1st, 2009, 10:57 PM   #13
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Whatever you use, consider this:

If you use the right materials that provide a nice, smooth and evenly lit surface, you're likely to get good results.

But if you use something that won't relax its wrinkles, that won't light evenly and ends up looking blotchy, you'll spend hours in post just trying to fix the problems.

Good green screen material isn't cheap. But honestly: it's not too expensive if your time is worth anything. And you can always rent it out or barter for services with other independent filmmakers.

Working with green screen footage that's been well-shot is a joy because the end result will bring great satisfaction. Badly shot green screen footage only brings disappointment and frustration. And we're not in this to be frustrated.
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 06:10 AM   #14
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I got a foam backed product from eefx.
It's worth the little extra to get a nice key.
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Old March 7th, 2009, 12:10 AM   #15
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I looked at the eefx site and saw that the bigger sizes are stitched together. Is the seam a problem at all?

Sorry for the noob question I'm juststarting out with this stuff.

Thanks for the time.
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