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Old April 25th, 2011, 07:38 PM   #1
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Cloth or Paper Backgrounds or...

Hey guys,
I am in need of some background advice...

The cloth I am using as a background gets wrinkles in it very easily , its about 24' long (bent in the middle for 2 walls) and about 12 feet high. A 2nd sheet covers the floor. Its all black, but I will need to get several other colors (blue and white, possibly a grey too) as well for filming the large machine for the product video I am shooting.

Any ideas???


(For lighting I used 2 softboxes on each side, and 1 spot above and behind as a hair light angled in (does not really catch the background.)
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Old April 25th, 2011, 11:01 PM   #2
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Re: Cloth or Paper Backgrounds or...

The cloth background. Here is a back shed solution. I rigged one of those economically priced fabric greenscreens 20'x10' by the following method :-


Sashcord or climbers rope for upper support.

Top edge of cloth folded over climbing rope.

40 x 30mm foldback clips ( for holding lots of pages together ) around the fold over the rope, holding both sides of the fold. The rope fits nicely inside the hinge-bend of the clip. Split pieces of clear plastic tube over the grips of the foldback clips so they don't tear the fabric, grip better and don't stain it through rusting when the cloth is damp. They grip well enough but allow adjustments.

Centre support for the rope sag - two pieces of wood and a small timber clamp suspended from roof truss.

Side support - two pieces of timber batten, - cloth folded around one already roped to side structure, the other, clamped by three timber clamps and a small piece of timber to protrect the fabric. When cloth is evenly stretched, the timber is tensioned sideways by ropes and tension knots ( truckie's knots ) Pulleys would be better.

Bottom support. - two pieces of timber batten, - cloth folded as for the sides and clamped. weights added at three points for stretch.

The cloth stretched out nicely but creases remained.

Gavan O'Sullivan, who shot the short for me had a little steam gun, one of those things from Danos Direct or the like who spruik over late night TV with those "wait and there's more" - type advertisments. An hour or so with the little steam gun, the fabric was smooth and it shrank just that little bit tighter.

Six months later and the temporary job is still hanging there, still tight. Its not pretty but it worked and did not involve carpentry and framing.


In your case, going round a right-angle bend, I would favour stringing two ropes and maybe two 2ft corners of plywood timber cut with 3" radius rounds to support the top and bottom angle because the closest foldback clips will probably pull through at the corners.

You would need also to have clamp strips on these corner pieces for stretching the cloth, otherwise the corner will balloon badly in the centre. It probably still will because 10' unsupported by seams and a pocket for a long rod is a big ask.


The greenscreen lighting was three readheads with green gels, one each side on a stand, one suspended from the truss in centre. It worked fine.

Last edited by Bob Hart; April 25th, 2011 at 11:07 PM. Reason: error
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Old April 25th, 2011, 11:29 PM   #3
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Re: Cloth or Paper Backgrounds or...

Ever used those paper rolls?

I am wondering if that might be a good answer, they come about 9 feet tall and by 25 or more yards for about $50. I am concerned about lighting up a solid color (like sky blue or orange) for the other color background. Cloth seems like it will have too many wrinkles in it! Just to light it, I'll probably need extra lights to make it even looking, maybe I could wrap the paper without a corner to make it smoother (instead of a "L" shaped wall)
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Old April 26th, 2011, 01:30 AM   #4
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Re: Cloth or Paper Backgrounds or...

Do you have a steam cleaner or a steam iron as lightly steaming it will make the wrinkles drop out, more light on the subject will also make the cloth blend into a smooth surface.
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Old April 26th, 2011, 01:37 AM   #5
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Re: Cloth or Paper Backgrounds or...

I don't have a steam cleaner, but I doubt that would work because the cloth is already hung up and without a support behind it while steaming it probably would not work that well??
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Old April 26th, 2011, 03:27 AM   #6
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Re: Cloth or Paper Backgrounds or...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silas Barker View Post
I don't have a steam cleaner, but I doubt that would work because the cloth is already hung up and without a support behind it while steaming it probably would not work that well??
It is better to steam it once hung as the weight of the cloth with then straighten the creases out, I do mine with a steam iron and hold it about one foot away from the backdrop cloth.
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Old April 26th, 2011, 03:56 AM   #7
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Re: Cloth or Paper Backgrounds or...

I would recomend painting the walls if possible, since you're covering a large area. However, rather than mess aroung with black, I would use green screen paint, or the equivalent. Then, with some cheap flo lights you can easily key in whatever backgrond color you want.

Cloth is generally a PIA.
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Old April 26th, 2011, 01:52 PM   #8
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Re: Cloth or Paper Backgrounds or...

@ Gary - I think I'll check out the steam iron angle, that would be great if we could do that, do you have to have the background wet like someone else mentioned?

@Paul - What kind of chroma key software do you use? The other 2 colors they want to have are blue and white.
I only have Premier Pro and its chroma key is not that great. This has to be a top notch job and my experience with green screens is limited plus I think it would be hard to light up an area that large with even lighting?? I only have 2 soft boxes basically.

Thanks for the tips guys!
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Old April 27th, 2011, 01:25 AM   #9
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Re: Cloth or Paper Backgrounds or...

If you spray a fine mist of water on the cloth first it will help with larger creases as it is the evaporation process that helps smooth them out, adding stream speeds this up and the weight of the cloth should smooth them out.
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Old April 27th, 2011, 12:44 PM   #10
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Re: Cloth or Paper Backgrounds or...

@Gary Awesome! I will try this, thanks for all your helpful advice!
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Old May 1st, 2011, 01:07 AM   #11
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Re: Cloth or Paper Backgrounds or...

Check around for a garment steamer, a hand-held gadget usually sold to business travelers who need to get the wrinkles out of their suits. They do a better job of "throwing" steam than a steam iron, and are a lot easier to handle because they weigh less.

Irons will work in a pinch, but if this is a regular occurrence, the garment steamer would be a better investment.

Regards;
Martin
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Old May 1st, 2011, 03:40 PM   #12
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Re: Cloth or Paper Backgrounds or...

It sounds like you're in a "Studio" configuration. You also say you want to be able to CHANGE the background at will.

If so, I'm going to argue for paper rolls over cloth to meet those needs.

It takes WAY too much time to remove and re-hang cloth backgrounds in a studio setting.

Paper rolls, on the other hand, are commonly hung as a grouping of multiple colors.

The hardware, available from Manfrotto and others, consists of a variety of wall or grid mounted fixtures, and rollers that allow you to mount a core roll of seamless paper and simply un-roll and re-roll the paper up and down with the simple pull on a plastic "chain" mechanism.

Yes, paper is more prone to damage than cloth. You can't wash it and steam it out like you can with cloth. BUT - you can simply cut out any wrinkled or damaged area and "freshen" your background instantly and at will - something you simply can't do with a fixed cloth background.

I typically have six rolls of various colors of seamless mounted in my studio - ranging from 5' "tabletop" rolls all the way up to the new 120" (10') wide rolls that work great for widescreen framing. The flexibility and pure efficiency of getting the background you want - when you want it - makes a HUGE difference in ease of setup.

Actually, now that I think about it, I have studio "cyc" walls, a curtain on a track, AND six seamless mounts, PLUS two more seamless mounts that work with C-Stands for the short rolll tabletop stuff.

I use them ALL for various setups.

So like much in video, there's no one "best" solution here. But don't discount seamless. What it does well it does better than anything else, IMO.
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