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Making scrims/overheads from fabric store


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#1 Danny Lachman

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 09:54 AM

So I've learned how specific the fabrics used on overheads and flags are.
I went to the fabric store and bought some black netting to make a scrim and some polyester type material for a silk.

I made 2 6x6 scrims and they both sort of work but not really:

I sewed the black netting over itself to make a double - it's kind of funky because it does reduce the light by a stop, but it has this weird wavy/watery looking reflective surface from the material. Sort of like the moire effect a camera gets when looking at fine lines. This surface shows up in the shadows so It's not really good for anything.

The "silk" I made is a bit too thick - in broad sunlight it does diffuse the light but it's incredibly darker than a normal 1/4 silk, almost to the point where it'd be hard to use. I suppose I could still use it inside in front of a light.

Bottom line is that it seems to be kind of a bad idea to just go buy some cheap fabric to make overheads because the fabric needs to have such specific properties to be useful.
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#2 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 10:47 AM

So I've learned how specific the fabrics used on overheads and flags are.
I went to the fabric store and bought some black netting to make a scrim and some polyester type material for a silk.

I made 2 6x6 scrims and they both sort of work but not really:

I sewed the black netting over itself to make a double - it's kind of funky because it does reduce the light by a stop, but it has this weird wavy/watery looking reflective surface from the material. Sort of like the moire effect a camera gets when looking at fine lines. This surface shows up in the shadows so It's not really good for anything.

The "silk" I made is a bit too thick - in broad sunlight it does diffuse the light but it's incredibly darker than a normal 1/4 silk, almost to the point where it'd be hard to use. I suppose I could still use it inside in front of a light.

Bottom line is that it seems to be kind of a bad idea to just go buy some cheap fabric to make overheads because the fabric needs to have such specific properties to be useful.



Come on, don't give up. Didn't Edison go through 9,999 (so they say) materials for incandescent light filaments before he got one that kept working?

Pulling industry fabrics off of the grip truck is appropriate for jobs when say, you have a grip truck or at least can afford to rent some kind of kit, but for the low budget filmmaker buying the same material in different strengths and applications would cost so much that for most it wouldn't be practical.

Sometimes. flying a thin bedsheet or whatever you've found can help you out when you need an overhead but don't have the grips and grip equipment
to do it the typical way. Tying a material that will help you out with some line to a couple of trees or off some buildings can be effective and also safer than attempting to rent and use say a 12' by if you don't have the proper crew. It may not be as good but if you're making a small film with your own money it may give you a better shot than simply shooting with no diffusion of the sun at high noon and your actors eyes hidden in shadows.
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#3 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 05:20 PM

One thing you might want to consider is whether your store bought material is treated with fire-retardant. Once you've got that covered, you should go to a hardware store and get yourself a grommet kit. It's pretty straight-forward stuff ... Good for getting out some aggression!
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#4 Danny Lachman

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 07:50 PM

Yeah, I was sweating bullets in my garage hammering in grommets.
Also, I'm pretty sure my materials are not fire-retardant - that's a good thing you mentioned to be aware of.

Tim, you have a good point about trying other fabrics - Really though, I'm still pretty convinced that the industry standard materials are extremely hard to mimic. I wonder where they make the scrim material? Doesn't seem like it is made or used in any other industry.
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#5 robert duke

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 08:35 PM

Yeah, I was sweating bullets in my garage hammering in grommets.
Also, I'm pretty sure my materials are not fire-retardant - that's a good thing you mentioned to be aware of.

Tim, you have a good point about trying other fabrics - Really though, I'm still pretty convinced that the industry standard materials are extremely hard to mimic. I wonder where they make the scrim material? Doesn't seem like it is made or used in any other industry.



Check out Rosebrand. you can purchase the raw materials from them. They have film fabrics.

Scrims are a filter product. I think water filters.
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#6 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 01:06 AM

Check out Rosebrand. you can purchase the raw materials from them. They have film fabrics.

Scrims are a filter product. I think water filters.




Cool, I'm going to check them out too.


I save money when I can by differentiating between a job on which it would be dumb to show up with something homemade looking. or even simply
unfamiliar looking to a client who expects to see what is typical industry equipment such as Mathews, American, Century,etc. , and my own projects on which I can save on a particular rental and get the exact same effect by using something I've made.

For example, I have all sizes of scrims that I've made from simple rolls of window screen that I've bought inexpensively.

I certainly would like to own more equipment but it takes time to build a kit and I've had go slowly and look for deals on used equipment and mostly what I'm still buying are lights.

By the way I meant to say thanks on the forum to Robert for the great deal he gave to Cinematography.com members on his TVMPs. I bought four a while ago and they're great. I use them all the time with some studio lights I picked up that hung from a grid and weren't set up to go on stands.

So, this is a belated public thank you Robert!
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#7 robert duke

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Posted 21 July 2008 - 11:40 PM

PM me for a guy who makes rags inexpensively. He is fast and fantastic. His prices beat everybody's.
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#8 Tim O'Connor

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 08:51 AM

PM me for a guy who makes rags inexpensively. He is fast and fantastic. His prices beat everybody's.



Hi Robert,

You must be busy or getting a lot of mail. Went to send you a message but system said that your mailbox is full.

Tim
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#9 JD Hartman

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 10:27 AM

It might be easier just to post the person's contact information in this thread.
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