Sunday, May 11, 2008

Scrimming the Surface

Been giving huge brain pan real estate over to how the heck I'm going to backdrop this monster of a set, how to composite in the sky, how to block the window light, etc. The solution has to be satisfying to me and be in keeping with a papier maché budget. The entire ethos of the project is that it be handcrafted and affordable for anyone to make. Seen here is my current cunning plan.

I saw many wonderful options online, unfortunately all very costly and therefore not workable. Some available products, like the foam-backed blue screen linked on Mike's sites, are wonderful but would be astronomical to buy for a set the size of Halfland. Not to mention the professional stands to support it.

I got clear during an acupuncture treatment, you know, laying there, with several needles jammed in... that I was certain I wanted to make the backdrop out of materials on hand, like cardboard. I've decided against digital compositing via blue screening, opting instead to do as much as possible in camera, as they say. I thought I could construct scenery flats out of large scale cardboard, etc.

But then dropped that idea and got what I thought was an even simpler and more elegant solution.

What's all the (B)racket?
I'd still use the cardboard but this time just as scored, curved coving around large brackets (see mini mock up above). The brackets could be attached directly to the workshop ceiling, right through the coving spine, and then a backdrop substrate could be attached to the coving and drape down all the way to the ground if large enough. The idea is to soften the junction of the ceilings and walls to make the transition invisible in order to affect a sense of endlessness, just like how long this project is taking. Perfect. It was simple, elegant, inexpensive, and easy to install and move.

But at the Home Despot yesterday buying the gear, I spotted 12' sheet metal roof edge @$2.49 ea. I bought three to test a new idea they gave me. I would curve end of the pliable struts and drill through it right into the ceiling, attach a large backdrop material to multiple struts, and anchor the bottom ends with plywood bases attached through the metal into a length of 2x2. (see first model upper left)

Then came the matter of how to disguise the two ceiling fans over Halfland. Take them down and paint the entire ceiling sky blue? How about covering them with backdrop? I took the largest material on hand and taped it up to see. The actual backdrop material would be large enough to drape the entire ceiling and as Yuji (aka; Dick K.) smartly pointed out when visited Halfland last week, if I were to chromakey out the background I'd have to use blue rather than greenscreen, otherwise the tree's leaves would flicker out. Yuji is actually the one that got me to start thinking about tackling the question of the backdrop. He commented that Halfland was much larger in person, if you can imagine that. (Mysterious Yuji signed the guest artist board while he was here, lower left).

My current thought is to drape the entire space with ____blank? huh wha?_____ (a 30' x 12' wide StudioCloth™ @$30/running yard? $300(?) too much; a few 5ft x 10ft GREEN-SCREEN CHROMA KEY BACKDROP panels found on Craigslist @$35/ea.?) paint it to my liking as a cyclorama, and then stretch a massive scrim material in front of that to soften the imperfections. I could additionally project skyscapes onto the scrim and/or get fantastic illuminated sun effects by well-placed lighting in between the two layers. Or by spot front lighting a metallic sun.

I mocked up the sketch at the top of the post, nearly to scale, of what the Halfland set would look like in such a sky set up (It's an upsidedown version of the bagillion dollar dream backdrop set up seen on the left. I'm thinking of making the stand of trees on the left side in the fashion of Ulla's paper theaters, except on an enormous scale. There is a structural support column there and large cardboard painted trees in layers could be just the trick...


  1. All of this is making my head spin! Don't know how you do it. I love the new banner, by the way.

  2. wow, thats some intense problem solving, which is what stop-mo is all about. It allows us to make creative decisions (in composition and set up) that we never would have considered if we weren't in the predicament. And the films usually end up better and more interesting for it.

  3. I'm a little worried about draping fabric... Wherever the fabric wrinkles, you'll get shadows -- which break the illusion.

    Just brainstorming: It seems like what you almost want to do is build a small, freestanding room within your apartment -- two walls and a ceiling.

    In the realm of stage productions, that's the kind of thing that's done with "flats." You can get 4'x8'x1/8" MDF for <$6 each. Create support structure to keep them upright using 2x4s or the like. Seams between flats could be concealed by carefully attaching butcher paper with wall paper paste.

    You could use butcher paper to create a curve that hides any 90 degree angle. If you're trying to create more of a dome effect -- well, I'm not sure how you'd do that.

    Hm. I'm guessing the walls of the cubicle would be 12'x12'. That means 14 pieces of MDF... About $84. And then support structure... I'd estimate about $10 worth of struts per panel...

    Yeah, it's hard to imagine a solution for your cyclorama that costs less than $250.

  4. @Jessica Marie, Thanks! I'm NOT doing it! It's nearly all too too much for me but I'm trying!

    @Ryen, You're right, Ryan! There are so many great ways to handle these things. I'm hoping to find the way that makes me happy.

    @Sven! You dear! Thank is some powerfully helpful data! I love the 14 panel idea and the bottomline reality check about cost.

    I knew about shadows being a problem. I was just hoping that the scrimming would camouflage all the sins!

    I saw a gazebo in the hardware store today that would cost $199 and hand the etire thing; 360º, ahhhhhhh! I'd only have to build stilts for the four legs so it'd sit up over the set as much as possible.


  5. Lighting???

    Herself.....I have only done one greenscreen test with a background...

    My poodle test on the pound exterior set....if you havnt seen it let me know.

    we used didnt work very well....Our biggest problem was getting it to LIGHT even enough to get a clean KEY.

    we eventually went with a 4 by 8 piece of drywall. It painted perfectly and worked great on a budget.

    Lighting is a serious issue though....your going to be lighting a huge ammount of backdrop...So keep that in mind.

    the other thing that Mythinc journeys did....was just painted an entire wall of sky and clouds.

    they lit it appropriately and it looked great.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...