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Gelling Windows


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#1 Kurt Wooden

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 05:40 PM

Hi all,

Recently tried to Gel large floor to ceiling windows with ND. Was very difficult. Alot of bumps and buckles, tape marks etc... The experience was exasperating. :unsure:

Anybody have any experience in applying these without being visible?

Thanks in advance
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#2 Serge Teulon

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 06:09 PM

what format you shooting?
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#3 Serge Teulon

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 06:21 PM

for some reason couldn't edit....

Can you give us a low down on how you did it?
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#4 Daniel Wallens

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Posted 09 July 2008 - 09:30 PM

Kurt,
there are several good ways to gel windows, but whichever way you choose, if they are large panes, it will still be at least a bit of a pain in the ass. By far, gelling windows is my least favorite of the grip duties.

If you can, gel from the outside of the building. This will allow you to use tape or staples,* depending on the surface. The edges then don't have to be neat, and you can easily pull it as taught as possible to minimize ripples. However, you cannot always gel from the outside -- it may be very windy, or you may be shooting in a skyscraper (for instance). In such cases, you must gel from the inside. Two methods seem to be preferred among others, I've found: one is the squeegee, where you take some water,** apply it to one side of the gel, and smooth it out on the pane as much as you can (make sure the window itself is free of specks, cobwebs, etc.). A squeegee is a common thing found on most grip trucks. However, if none is available, the doublestick (snot/ATG) tape works as well. Make sure you rip off nice pieces, and don't gunk them up with dirty hands.

Regardless of which method you use, make sure your cuts are neat, and fit to size. Check with the key or gaffer, DP, camera op, AD, whoever, to see how clearly/in focus the window will be, or if it will be in the shot at all. If you are running low on time, and the window is very out of focus and tiny in the background, making a very careful, neat, time-consuming job of it might not be the best way to budget your work.


Honestly, I don't see why the format of what you're shooting should matter. A good gel job is a good gel job, a bad one is a bad one. Whether the camera sees it not is not up the the grip, and not something the grip should concern his/herself with. A good grip will do a good job, the right way, regardless.


-DW


*Good tip for stapling ND: if time allows, put squares of tape (paper or gaff) near the edges of the ND where you will be stapling. Then send the staple through the bit of tape and the gel. This will ensure that the gel doesn't rip, especially when pulling the staples out, so that the gel can be reused.

**If the water alone isn't doing the trick of making the gel stick to the window, a good trick is flat Spite. Mix a can of it in with the water, and it will create a stickyness to it when it partially dries. Make sure it's flat, though. Don't use Coke.
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#5 Driver

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 11:58 AM

.

Edited by Driver, 10 July 2008 - 12:01 PM.

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#6 Hal Smith

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 12:15 PM

Rosco recommends a particular brand of dish detergent to add a surfecant to the water for the squeegee technique. I've misplaced my notes but if you email Rosco support they probably can give you their recommended recipe.
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#7 Frank Barrera

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 01:17 PM

Rosco recommends a particular brand of dish detergent to add a surfecant to the water for the squeegee technique. I've misplaced my notes but if you email Rosco support they probably can give you their recommended recipe.

I have used and seen used a window cleaner like Windex to not just clean the glass prior to gel application but then also as a wetting agent to allow the gel to adhere to the window.

Hal, is "surfactant" technically the correct word? I thought surfactants involved liquid surfaces such as the lungs and the subsequent chemical reactions. When we use liquid for polyester gel application it's only a physical reaction and not a chemical one. I should ask my father-in-law because he actually works with lung surfactants in the case of premature babies. DOnt mean to hijack the thread. just curious.
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#8 Frank Barrera

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 01:24 PM

I have used and seen used a window cleaner like Windex to not just clean the glass prior to gel application but then also as a wetting agent to allow the gel to adhere to the window.

Hal, is "surfactant" technically the correct word? I thought surfactants involved liquid surfaces such as the lungs and the subsequent chemical reactions. When we use liquid for polyester gel application it's only a physical reaction and not a chemical one. I should ask my father-in-law because he actually works with lung surfactants in the case of premature babies. DOnt mean to hijack the thread. just curious.


UPDATE:

Just got off the phone with my father-in-law and he confirms that Hal's use of the word "surfactant" is of course correct. He says ALL detergents are considered surfactants regardless of their application.
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#9 Hal Smith

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Posted 10 July 2008 - 01:34 PM

Not only is he an expert but both of you know how to spell "surfactant" correctly! :(

http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Surfactant
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#10 Alexa Mignon Harris

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 10:56 PM

Hi,
The technique that works the best for me when squeegeeing is:
*clean the window first to remove any debris. Even the smallest pieces of dirt or fiber will cause bumps and ripples under the gel.
*In a spray bottle add one teaspoon of soap for every two to three cups of water. Shake up.
*Cut the gel fore the window so that you have one inch extra on each side.
*Spray the window down with the soapy mixture.
*Apply the gel with the curled part facing the window. Make sure that you have the extra inch beyond the edge so you can tape it and keep it in place while you squeegee. Also if the curl is facing out it will make it easier for the gel to peel off which you dont want. Start at the top.
*Squeegee while holding the gel so that you can press hard and get all the bubbles out. Go from top to bottom in small sections making sure that you spritz more soapy water every now and than.
*When youre done use a razor to cut off the excess inch of gel around the window.
*Use Jlar to secure where needed.
*Because this takes some time if doing it for picture, make sure production lets you know of this setup ahead of time and let them know that it will take some time depending on the amount of windows that have to be gelled.


For a quick fix use snot tape on the four corners of the glass and stretch the gel across it like canvas. Remember to make sure the curl is facing the window.

Happy Shooting! :)
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#11 Spencer Kiernan

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 08:52 PM

Does anyone have any advice for gelling car windows specifically? We have tried the squeegee method, but it's imperfect because of the curve in the window (bubbles form at the edges of the top and bottom of the gel). We shoot tomorrow, so any advice on this would be great.

Thanks in advance.
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#12 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 10:57 PM

Use your hand if the squeegee doesn't fit. Work from the center out. Use a brand new blade and cut off all the excess gel.
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#13 Walter Graff

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Posted 31 August 2008 - 11:07 PM

Surfactants are what gives your soap bubbles and makes it feel slippery. As for car windows, even starting at the center usually does not offer perfect adhesion. As for regular windows, you'd be surprised just how bad many gelling jobs are on some of the major and classic films we all watch. It's always a giveaway with reflections as in revolving doors.
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#14 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 01 September 2008 - 11:54 AM

I had a grip use velcro tape once and it was excellent because I could pull it off and add it as needed really quickly Because the gel wasn't stuck to the window but rather floating in front of it, it could be pulled really taught without ripples.
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#15 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 02 September 2008 - 08:53 PM

Sorry, Michael, I think your's is bad advice. The gel has to be surface to surface, or else you risk having it blow around as well as produce a second reflection behind the glass you're gelling.

Also, I haven't seen anyone use a spray bottle and squeegee in ten years.

Edited by Jon Rosenbloom, 02 September 2008 - 08:55 PM.

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#16 robert duke

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Posted 02 September 2008 - 09:46 PM

I agree the velcro isnt the best idea as the velcro risks being in the shot.

but Jon when was the last time you gelled a window. I use spray bottles all the time. squeegies are great even if you arent using soapy water.

I have tried every technique from hairspray to watered down sprite, to spray mount. and have found the squeegie works for all of them.
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#17 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 07:25 AM

I didn't notice anything visible in the footage. I can see how an actor moving near the gel could create air disturbance and cause it to move around if it's not flat against the window. Usually air conditioning is off during shots so the chances of it blowing around aren't great unless it's outside in which case yeah, it's a bad idea.
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#18 Paul Bruening

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 01:39 PM

Take your director into another room and kick him repeatedly in the butt until he promises to block the scene without any windows in the shots.
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#19 Alexa Mignon Harris

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Posted 03 September 2008 - 11:25 PM

Sorry, Michael, I think your's is bad advice. The gel has to be surface to surface, or else you risk having it blow around as well as produce a second reflection behind the glass you're gelling.

Also, I haven't seen anyone use a spray bottle and squeegee in ten years.


Jon I think Michael's advice is fine for gelling on the inside when the window is in soft focus and small pieces of Velcro are used that are close to the window pane color. As for gelling windows for picture squeegees work fabulously and so does snot tape when you don't have time to squeegee. I like the squeegee method because its like tinting a car window. Its clean, has no ripples and peels right off when your done with the shot. What Im trying to understand is why you would blow off two suggestions without giving another solution yourself.
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#20 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 04 September 2008 - 12:04 AM

Gelled a glass door yesterday. (You'll all see it on the Hallmark Hall of Fame.)

How do I elaborate or clarify my previous post? My guess as to why I haven't seen the spray bottle is that DP's want to be able to switch their .nd's faster than that method allows, or they just say, "Hey, put some .nd on that window, NOW!" Maybe it's all the TV I do.

My own method is to clean at least the edge of the glass, put 1/2" double stick clear tape around the entire edge, then adhere the gel in the center of each of the four sides, and then from the center of the window push the ripples out to each corner, with my hand, arm or squeegee. With my matte-knife at it's minimum extension, I then trim any excess gel. (This helps prevent accidental over-trimming.)

My favorite bit of gelling was on "Rescue Me," at a porno video store on 8th ave. They liked the gel job so much, they asked us to leave it.
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