This isn't the successful reveal I was expecting. It's more like an unretouched update on what I've been working very hard on and where it stands as of right now. I couldn't stand trying to make it work any longer. I found and used levels of more commitment and resilience on this phase of the set building than I knew I had. I dug in, failed, and dug in further, day after day.
My initial concept for creating the sky backdrop excited me with it's elegance. So simple, so little involved. It was linking two flexible pvc pipes together, making one long span on each side of the scrim, filling the bottoms with a length of dowel, inserted them into steel flanges firmly affixed to the floor. I was deluded enough to imagine that I could plug n' play the sky easily, moving it effortlessly as needed. HA! This last month has been a dizzy decent from that original idea dissolving into desperate grabs for making the stupid sky go up by any means available period. I did everything in the most difficult and time consuming way possible, which I wouldn't mind if I had good results now. I will get there, I'm just not sure how as I sit here.
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.--Winston Churchill
I started out the sky meticulously and ended up sloppy without apology. As of tonight, the far backdrop is finished and a plastic drop cloth is hung across the span as best as I'm able. The drop cloth has permanent creases from being folded at the factory, I can live with that. It's the drape and ripples that I can't remove that have me hornswaggled. I finally admit defeat with my approach.
However, I have another drop cloth (2 were cut down from a 20' x 50' roll) that has been tinted pale transparent blue by hand that I may come at tomorrow in a new way...
This clip, shot through the plastic scrim and a magnifier over the lens gives the idea of the depth I'm hoping to reach. The camera moves from sea level to the clouds overhead. Natural, dreamy, right!?
Here's few highlights of what took so long:
1. Constructing the 8 backdrop panel uprights. 2. Attaching uprights to panels with gorilla tape and washers and screws, including folding the scored cardboard into a reinforced coving at the top. 3. Doing the whole thing totally alone required touching a lot of things with 10' poles propped up against chairs and walls to steady them before I could get them screwed into the ceiling. 4. I had to use poles with gloves on the ends as tools to press the score lines I put in the boards to create the coving curves.
After the entire 24' long x 10' high backdrop was positioned, I set about trying to hide the harsh transition between the panels as much as possible. I spent a long time concentrating on the first 4 panels as I will use that portion for all other set skies in the film series. I filled the score lines and vertical seams with FlexAll patching compound, let them dry and sanded them, repeating the process several times over, trying my very best to get a nice smooth alcove of sky. (you can see some of that special attention area bottom right below) the rest of the backdrop still has nasty seams that I'm hoping will fade like a dowager's wrinkles under full flush of light on them. Bottom left above you see me pulling the flexible painted layer of cardboard off of the painted backdrop scraps. I used these cloth like pieces as matching camouflage on seams and ceiling conduit after ceiling I had two fans were removed from the set area.
The panels attached to the ceiling were edged with more masking tape and then painted to match. The ceiling was painted blue and white clouds were rolled on overhead. Middle left shows the plastic scrim in front of the bare finished backdrop. Bottom left shows the handmade paintbrush disguising the mount for a removed ceiling fan. Bottom right, the blending of the cyclorama sky was especially challenging as I had only odds and ends of paint and had to mix a gradient that would marry a wide gap of tone and shade.