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What are the uses of black silk?


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#1 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 10:36 PM

I've been around for a while but have never used black silk and wonder how
it is used and what it does in both overheads and mounted from c-stands.


Thanks!
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#2 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 17 July 2007 - 10:54 PM

I don't have a clue what you would use a small black silk flag for. I do know (and have played with) black silk in the form of large overheads. Conrad Hall used to use them on day EXT with his thinking that it was a better way to control contrast, and I agree with him. The logic is that white silk (or anything else white overhead) not only softens the light, but also lowers the contrast more because you get light "bounce back" from the actual overhead material. Black silk doesn't have that problem.

The main reason I have never used it much is that you loose so much light through it that I usually can't light up the foreground enough to balance to the background.

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#3 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 18 July 2007 - 01:30 AM

I'm interested in trying it out sometime, but I generally use scrim when I'm wanting to cut the light down while preserving contrast :)
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#4 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 18 July 2007 - 01:40 AM

Well it also softens the light, a scrim does not.
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#5 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 18 July 2007 - 05:51 AM

Thanks, guys. That makes a lot of sense about the white overheads bouncing light around
and affecting contrast. I wonder if there is a less dense black material that could diffuse
without cutting as much.

I was looking at a rental house catalogue and apparently they have some black silk in some of
their flag kits but other than for an overhead I don't see how it would be used either.
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#6 Josh Fritts

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Posted 18 July 2007 - 10:06 AM

Its also good if you need to soften light around lots of reflective services and do not want to see a large white frame reflected in that surface. But, the down side is they are very thick and eat up a lot of light. I have one in a 4x4, 2x3 and 18x24, but it rarely sees the light of day and is almost more of novelty on my truck.
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#7 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 19 July 2007 - 07:18 PM

Its also good if you need to soften light around lots of reflective services and do not want to see a large white frame reflected in that surface. But, the down side is they are very thick and eat up a lot of light. I have one in a 4x4, 2x3 and 18x24, but it rarely sees the light of day and is almost more of novelty on my truck.


I like that ability to hide the big white frame reflection. I wonder why silk is so important. There must
be some material that can diffuse well, maybe not quite as softly but without cutting so much light.
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#8 Sebastian Andexer

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 09:59 AM

Thanks, guys. That makes a lot of sense about the white overheads bouncing light around
and affecting contrast. I wonder if there is a less dense black material that could diffuse
without cutting as much.

I was looking at a rental house catalogue and apparently they have some black silk in some of
their flag kits but other than for an overhead I don't see how it would be used either.



Call youre rental house. They never have all their inventory in a catalog (trust me, i use to and still do from time to time, work in a rental house). That being said, take a look a 1/4 black silk. I prefer it over a reg. black silk because it can be a bit too heavy.
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#9 Richard Andrewski

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 07:18 PM

Thanks, guys. That makes a lot of sense about the white overheads bouncing light around
and affecting contrast. I wonder if there is a less dense black material that could diffuse
without cutting as much.

I was looking at a rental house catalogue and apparently they have some black silk in some of
their flag kits but other than for an overhead I don't see how it would be used either.


You might try black gauze as a "less dense black material." I haven't used it myself but it comes highly recommended by someone else I know for this kind of use. Perhaps it won't be dense enough for you though.

http://www.rosebrand...type-gauze.aspx

Edited by Richard Andrewski, 20 July 2007 - 07:19 PM.

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#10 Sebastian Andexer

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 07:47 PM

You might try black gauze as a "less dense black material." I haven't used it myself but it comes highly recommended by someone else I know for this kind of use. Perhaps it won't be dense enough for you though.

http://www.rosebrand...type-gauze.aspx


Why not just use nets? If a single is too heavy then use a white net.
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#11 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 07:49 PM

Thanks guys, I'm going to check those suggestions out! Have to wait for the rental house though;
they're gone for the weekend.
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#12 Richard Andrewski

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 07:53 PM

Yes that would probably work too. Maybe just a little less dense than the gauze so let's more light through.

http://www.rosebrand...pe-netting.aspx

I was looking at some other fabrics on the site. Some of the fabrics under the "sheer" category looked interesting. This "organza" might work:

http://www.rosebrand...l...&info=Sheer

or this "shimmer voile" says it can be translucent and even transparent under some lighting:

http://www.rosebrand...S...&info=Sheer

really lots of different kinds of things to experiment with and see what works best for what you want.
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#13 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 08:03 PM

Because a net does not really diffuse the light, just cuts it down in intensity.
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#14 Sebastian Andexer

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Posted 20 July 2007 - 10:28 PM

I know what a net and silk do but the link he posted showed something that would do the same thing as a net would.
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#15 Richard Andrewski

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Posted 21 July 2007 - 01:28 AM

Yes its true, gauze and netting won't cut much light at all. I hear that the effect is very subtle indeed. The only reason I posted that is he was asking for something not quite so opaque as black silk. The other ones I posted may also be too subtle in effect, you'd just have to try them.

Edited by Richard Andrewski, 21 July 2007 - 01:30 AM.

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#16 robert duke

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Posted 22 July 2007 - 12:53 AM

Silk is a kind of funny diffusion material. It difuses but still allows light to go straight through. So you get less contrast but keep your sourcey light to some degree. the black silk is nice because it does diffuse, stop down the source, and allows the light to be sourcey. If that is what you are wanting. you can also go 1/8 silk and throw a single net on it as well.
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#17 Tony Brown

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Posted 22 July 2007 - 02:12 PM

Interesting. I bought a 1/4 black silk 12x12 a few years ago thinking it would be really useful as an overhead. Its hideous. Its just like an ND3. I've yet to try the behind camera eye light for a crowd theory.....

Overheads are always a problem. White nets DO diffuse and are very useful but still let that horrible hard noon sunlight through. I prefer to use a solid lack as high as possible (20') so that ambient skylight leaks in but the direct is kept off, then bounce the sun in from a lower angle.

Great when there's no wind.
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#18 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 24 July 2007 - 06:03 AM

Interesting. I bought a 1/4 black silk 12x12 a few years ago thinking it would be really useful as an overhead. Its hideous. Its just like an ND3. I've yet to try the behind camera eye light for a crowd theory.....

Overheads are always a problem. White nets DO diffuse and are very useful but still let that horrible hard noon sunlight through. I prefer to use a solid lack as high as possible (20') so that ambient skylight leaks in but the direct is kept off, then bounce the sun in from a lower angle.

Great when there's no wind.



Thanks guys for all the info..

Tony, what is "the behind camera eye light for a crowd theory" ?

Off-topic (on my own thread!) but somewhat related, I made out well last week when I needed a
big scrim/net for one side of a practical location while shooting a student film by unrolling some
black screening material that I had bought cheaply and hanging it from a cellar pipe. (The black
may have irrelevant in this case; the screen was simply acting as a scrim because of the lack of
grip equipment. Actually however, it was easier to maneuver in tight quarters than a large net
might have been and ironically, due to the black color I think, I heard some whispering that the
D.P. was using "some special Hollywood" stuff.)
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#19 Tony Brown

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 04:36 AM

I heard some whispering that the D.P. was using "some special Hollywood" stuff.)


So put in a 'special Hollywood' invoice for it.....



Tony, what is "the behind camera eye light for a crowd theory" ?


You can back off a bigger unit (say a T12 or a 6k) maybe 20' behind camera thru a 12x12 1/4 black silk. Its reduced enough not to fill the set but the source is still intense enough to pick up in peoples eyes...... not convinced but I'll take a look sometime. For the moment black silks are emperors clothes to me...
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#20 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 29 July 2007 - 06:45 AM

So put in a 'special Hollywood' invoice for it.....
You can back off a bigger unit (say a T12 or a 6k) maybe 20' behind camera thru a 12x12 1/4 black silk. Its reduced enough not to fill the set but the source is still intense enough to pick up in peoples eyes...... not convinced but I'll take a look sometime. For the moment black silks are emperors clothes to me...



Yes, $$$


I've put a large white frame up high at night and lighted it so that people's eyes catch it when they look
up a bit but nothing like what you describe which sounds pretty cool. That might put a nice glint
in people's eyes without the reflection of the large white shape. Thanks.
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