Rose Brand Know-How Blog

Entertainment & event production tips, news & stories

Giving New Life To Old Curtains: How an Artist Recycled Stage Curtains

 

Rebekah Lazaridis is a multidisciplinary artist who creates mixed media pieces using tattered curtains, bruised platforms and dented flats. In the Fall of 2015 she used recycled Rose Brand curtains to produce her solo exhibit titled “Broken Legs” hosted at The Sheen Center in New York City. The painting exhibit visually explored theatre superstitions, taking the viewer behind the scenes of long standing theatrical myths, spooks and folklore. 

Rebekah shared with us the inspiration for the show and how she created the 45-pieces. Step inside her world and learn how she creates her art.

What was the concept for “Broken Legs”?
I’ve been immersed in the hauntings of theater since I was 12. I remember hiding backstage to eat my lunch and feeling this weighty presence, even though I was completely alone. I loved finding out the history of theater superstitions and trying to visualize them. These paintings were an effective way for me to share my love affair with the theatre, both the physical space and the spiritual-emotional atmosphere that lingers there. 

What was the creation process like for each piece?
I would cut off a piece of a curtain and paint it. Then I’d cut the painting, reorient it and sew it back together to create a whole new piece.

How did you come up with the idea to use old theatre curtains and give them a new life?
I’ve been working with old discarded theatrical platforms and steps for several years. I wanted to do some work on fabric and toy around with a theatre curtain, mainly the black masking legs. Eric Haak, a fantastic technical director and dear friend, said he had some old ones and offered them to me. I thought it would be the perfect substitute for bought canvas.

What were the unique parts of working with old curtains?
I love the fussiness of the velour. It’s the most difficult fabric I’ve worked with and seems to have a mind of its own. When applying paint to it, some areas refused to soak any more paint. I like the idea that I have this giant velour creature hanging in my studio and one day it wants me to paint on it and one day it doesn’t.

What were some road bumps you hit creating these pieces?
Whenever I applied water to the curtains, the fabric would appear stained or damaged. The stains, I later found out, were salts from the fire retardant that surfaced from the water. I liked the shapes of the stains and ended up working around them. They became personality flecks on the pieces, like birthmarks.

Where did you get the curtains that you used for the project?
I used curtains from places where I had personal history, whether I had performed there, designed sets, painted or worked in some capacity. I reached out to my contacts at those theaters and they donated many pieces. Some of the theaters I work with are very old institutions with old curtains. The oldest curtain I worked with was from the 70’s or 80’s.
 

How many painted pieces were included in "Broken Legs"?
There were 45 pieces total from 4-5 different theaters.
           

What was your favorite thing about this project?
Knowing that I was doing something creative for both theatre people and art lovers and bringing that idea to the big city for a solo show – there’s nothing like that feeling. It was such an amazing opportunity and experience and I couldn’t be more grateful. 

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Rebekah Lazaridis has worked for many years in Florida and New York City as a professional scenic painter for theater, television and film.  She has done murals in Washington DC, Tampa, FL and her hometown of St. Petersburg, FL. Learn more about her work and upcoming exhibits at www.rebekahlazaridis.com.

 

 

Pick Keying Materials Like a Pro


Digital keying effects are used in virtually every form of film-making or video production today.  Whether you are shooting the next “Avatar” or are a prolific YouTube content creator, you probably use this special effect technique to combine or overlay images and footage together into one seamless composite.  And you may wrestle with the decision over which color of keying background to select and what keying surface to use. 

Understanding Keying

What is Keying?

Keying (also known as compositing) combines visual elements from separate sources into a single image. This creates the illusion that all those elements are part of the same scene.

The technique requires the use of a uniformly-colored keying backdrop, such as a "green screen" to achieve the effect. Through the magic of compositing or keying software such as Fusion™ or Nuke™, the green colored items in the scene (the keying backdrop) become transparent. This allows an editor to insert a different background in its place (a street scene, a mountain, etc.).

 

Color Options for Keying

With today’s advanced compositing software, you could technically pull a key from almost any color background.  But the majority of effects are shot against either a solid blue or green background.  To complicate matters, these color standards are available in two basic flavors:  Chroma Key (Green or Blue) and Digital (Green or Blue).  The Chroma Key colors are a darker shade and duller color.  The Digital colors are much brighter with a purer color hue. 

 

What Determines Color Choice?

The decision is usually determined by what’s being shot, how you’re shooting it, and what type of final scene is being composited. You’ll need to consider:

  1. The colors of the costume, wardrobe and other elements in the shot
  2. The subject’s proximity to the backdrop screen
  3. The level of detail that needs to be separated from the background color

 

If your subject contains a lot of blue or green then selecting to key against a blue or green background is an easy decision.  Choose the background color which appears least in your subject, either in the costumes or scenic elements.  If the subject does not clearly dictate the choice, then most professionals today choose to key in front of green rather than blue.  But either way, this choice is yours and you can get an excellent key in front of either color.

 

When to Choose Digital

When possible, it’s recommended to choose Digital Green or Digital Blue.  The brighter and purer hue in digital colors allows more separation between your subject and the background. 

If your subject contains very fine details that need to transfer – like fine hair, wisps of smoke, or cast shadows – then the bright, clean separation between the subject and background using Digital Green is crucial. 

 

When to Choose Chroma

If your subject is close to the background, choose the duller, Chroma option. The brightness of the Digital color is much more reflective than the darker Chroma Key colors.  If subjects are too close to the background, you may see the background color reflect and spill on the subject. This spill can create a halo of colored light on your subject that computer software will interpret as background and eliminate in the final key.   

PRO TIP:  If you experience a halo effect in a well-lit composite shot, try backlighting your subject with the complementary color of the background – Amber backlight in front of Digital Blue and Pale Magenta backlight in front of a Digital Green background. Or, use Chroma Key instead where the darker color is less likely to reflect a colored halo into your subject.

 

Choosing the Right Keying Surface

Rose Brand offers a wide range of materials to meet you budget, your technical requirements, and the physical constraints of your location when it comes to choosing a keying surface. Here are some product options:

 

Fabric Backgrounds

Fabrics as wide as 10ft seamless are available in Digital and Chroma Key colors.  Make your selection based on price and size, keeping in mind that a fabric background must be stretched wrinkle free in order to pull a clean key.  Other factors in your choice will be FR rating, color choice, and reflectance.  A matte finish is best for close work, while a slight sheen can help with separation between subject and background.  Browse Keying Fabric

 

Floors and Curves

A Chroma Key vinyl floor may offer the best solution for a studio that will get moderate use and where continual repainting the floor would create a logistical difficulty or be too expense.  Chroma Key Floor is 63in wide and double sided with Chroma Key Blue on one side and Chroma Key Green on the other.  In addition to providing a durable floor, the vinyl can also be used to create a continuous scoop from wall to floor which eliminates the “corner” where floor meets wall.  This intersection often creates a difficult area where a green screen and green floor don’t match nicely.  Creating a scoop prevents the shadowed region where floor meets wall and that is often difficult to key out.  Browse Keying Floor

 

Paint the Wall

Chroma Key Blue, Chroma Key Green, Digicomp HD Green, Digicomp HD Blue all make an excellent keying background.  With proper preparation, these paints can even be used on the floor for short term shots with light traffic.  One limitation to a painted Digital Green wall is the expense of the paint and that the wall cannot be moved with you.  Browse Keying Paints

 

 

If you have any questions about the best keying backdrop to use for your shoot, please don’t hesitate to send us an emailcustomerservice@rosebrand.com or call us at 800.223.1624.

 

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Brings a New Look to the Ed Sullivan Theater


A Rose Brand Chameleon ShowLED drop is located behind The Late Show logo above center stage.

 

When Stephen Colbert started his tenure on The Late Show, it began a new era in his career and initiated a face lift for the show’s home, the Ed Sullivan Theater. The Ed Sullivan Theater began as a Broadway house and Colbert is a fan of its architecture and history. 

Jim Fenhagen, Executive Vice President of Design at Jack Morton/PDG and Scenic Designer for the project, worked very closely with Colbert to design the set. Fenhagen was quoted in Lighting and Sound America saying, “Stephen wanted to celebrate this gorgeous old theatre that had been covered over through the years with sound-proofing and lighting grids." He added, "We really didn’t feel the theatre until we renovated it. We integrated the set with the theatre in a way that created this sort of modern vs. classical architecture, which is a fun tension." More...

Community Spotlight: NewArts: Newtown Musicals

Art has long been a form of healing. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, community members turned to the arts once again to help students cope with the tragedy. Community members knew the power of the performing arts in providing a powerful avenue for self-expression. And thus 12.14 Foundation and its performing arts division, NewArts: Newtown Musicals was born. The organization’s goal is to use performance pieces to help students gain confidence in a safe and nurturing environment and increase their overall understanding of themselves and how they interact with the world. 

12.14 Foundation has completed five large scale musicals, three of which involved the assistance of Broadway talent and Rose Brand materials and supplies. More...

Understanding the Basics of Projection Screens


The world of projection can be confusing at times. We’re here to shine some light on it (no pun intended). Here are answers to common questions you’ve asked us about selecting the right projection screen material. For the novice, consider some of the more basic info below. For the more technically advanced looking to buy a projection screen, take a look at Technical Information on Projection Surfaces

 

Projection Resources:
Projection Glossary: Terms That Everyone Should Know 
Learn what Ambient Light and Hot Spot mean as well as other basic terms

When To Use Each of 54 Different Types of Projection Screens 
Also includes the specifications you'll want to know before buying More...

Glossary of Common Projection Terms

To help you select and understand projection screen materials, here are some commonly used terms from the projection world.

Projection Resources: 
Basic Info for the Novice
Learn which side of the screen should face the audience and other valuable information

When To Use 54 Different Types of Projection Screens 
The Specifications You Want to Know Before Buying

 

Ambient Light
Ambient light is any light in the viewing room created by a source other than the projector or screen (daylight, overhead lighting, hallway lighting, etc.). Ambient light differs in each space and, depending on the space, can be controlled. Ambient light reflects off the screen and washes out the image. The more ambient light there is in a space, the brighter the projector has to be and/or the darker the projection surface needs to be in order to increase the contrast ratio. More...

3 Common Uses for Masking Fabrics

Our customers use masking fabrics in numerous ways, not the least of which is to absorb light and to hide walls, equipment and performers. Some additional uses are described below. In most cases, it's important that the masking fabric be opaque so that it acts as a good barrier to light and / or sound. 

Managing Sound*

Masking fabric is often used to cover the walls of black box theatres.  However, since walls are flat, hard and parallel to each other, sound waves can bounce back and forth, causing reverberation. To avoid this, use at least 2 layers of heavy flat masking fabric with several inches of space in between. The air space in between serves to trap the sound that goes through the first layer of fabric. Another method is to use curtains with fullness (instead of flat curtains) to cover the walls. A heavyweight fabric, such as Rose Brand 25oz Memorable Velour, with fullness hung in, works well. The irregular folds in the fabric disperse the sound waves and the mass of the material absorbs some of the energy. 

Both of these solutions can be accomplished easily by tying the fabric to pipes mounted from the ceiling, or installing the fabric on a pair of parallel traveler tracks suspended in front of the walls of the theatre.  Traveler tracks allow for adjustment and provide possible storage positions when the masking is not in use.

* Rose Brand recently tested the acoustical performance of eight of our most popular masking fabrics. Results for the medium weight 12oz Brava up to the heavy 32oz Royale are available in the Rose Brand Catalog and on the website.

Theatre / Arena Reduction Curtains

If a theatre has fixed seating areas that are not being used for a particular production, masking can be used to cordon off the area. Fabric panels can be hung from suspended pipes or tracks that are hung in front of the seats to be hidden. Pipe and Base 2.0 systems are also available and allow for very versatile placement of the masking. The Pipe and Base system is ground supported and can be set up and moved as needed.  

Transforming Theatre Spaces

An ordinary black box space can be reconfigured to a theater in the round space with the use of masking fabrics. Let’s consider a rectangular black box space with galleries around the perimeter. When configured in the round, masking is generally used to cover the walls of the theatre and to provide passages for actors and crew. This can be done by tying the masking to the railing of the galleries or the masking can be hung from traveler tracks on the galleries. The traveler option provides more immediate flexibility when changing the space from a proscenium or thrust configuration, to a round setup.

A Selection of Masking Fabrics Available from Rose Brand

Most Requested: 22oz Encore IFR

Broadest Color Selection: 21oz Marvel FR

Best Overall Sound Absorption: 25oz Memorable FR

Most Economical Solutions: Commando Cloth FR and Duvetyn FR

Durability for Long Term Installations: 30oz Wool Serge IFR

Complementary Products

Heat Borders

Track

Pipe and Base 2.0

 

Behind the Scenes: Outfitting ShowStoppers at Wynn Las Vegas

Throwing your wife a huge party for her birthday is generally a good way to win brownie points for the year to come. Throwing her a huge party in the form of a Broadway-esque musical where Hugh Jackman performs, now that’s a way to amass brownie points for life. 

To celebrate the birthday of his wife, Andrea, Steve Wynn, chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, threw an elaborate party. An enthusiast of Broadway show music, Wynn transformed the party into an attraction for the Wynn Las Vegas Encore Theatre. The result was ShowStoppers, a musical production of classic Broadway show tunes that Wynn personally wrote. 

Rose Brand had the pleasure and honor to create the drapery for the show. Our team of production specialists had direct input on what the final design would look like – we suggested colors, adjusted fabric type, and even put finishing touches on the production before rehearsals. 

Tom Coulouris and Brent Porter, two of the most sought-after project managers and veterans of the theater industry, sat with designers and producers including production designer Ric Lipson of Stufish and Rick Gray, general manager of entertainment operations at Wynn Design & Development as the concept for this production came about. In an interview with Sharon Stancavage for Lighting and Sound America, Lipson describes the duo as the “Gods of Drapes.”

 

During preliminary meetings with the production team, Rose Brand presented suggested mock ups for the major soft goods in the production. Together, the two groups of producers worked with the fabrics to get the best effects – additional layers of fabric were added, colors were custom-dyed, and various light sources were tested. Since Rose Brand has a huge selection of fabrics in stock, testing different fabrics and color options was fast and easy. Rose Brand brought to the project a deep understanding of the aesthetics the designers wanted to achieve paired with intimate knowledge of the technical aspects required in order to make that possible. 

This was a very high-energy, fast-paced project made up of many specialized design pieces. One of the scenic goals for this production was to create the illusion of depth and dimension with limited space. To give the background depth and pizzazz, varying layers of three different colors of Shimmer Organza fabric were used in different parts of the show. A focal point throughout the show is the upstage curtain made from the Shimmer Organza in 200% sewn-in fullness at the top and bottom. The sheer fabric was also used to create other elements of the show. 

In the interview for Lighting and Sound America, Lipson describes another Rose Brand fabric, the Gliss Velvet, as “taking light in the most beautiful way.” This textured velvet was used in many places in the production including the proscenium and the band riser front. The individual legs and borders are a custom colored antique gold, made specifically for the show. 

Additional Rose Brand components used in the show include Classic Star Drop with LEDs for a border, legs, and drop, an Austrian Curtain sewn from Frazzle fabric, and numerous steel beaded curtains. All three of these elements are suggestions the Rose Brand production team made on the project. The steel beaded curtains were very popular in numerous scenes. “In the scene from Cabaret, we use a lot of Rose Brand’s 5/8" Plated Faceted Metal Beads for the whole of the set—it’s sort of enveloped in these beads,” Lipson adds. The curtains are pictured above on stage left and right as well as the center stage in what has been described as a “beautifully decadent, bead-laden club.”  

After sewing for the project was completed, Brent Porter, Rose Brand’s Manager of Fabrication and Development, flew out to Las Vegas to perform enhancements on-site for two weeks before rehearsals started. Working alongside the installation crew at Wynn Casino, he assisted in making sure each piece was properly installed and hung perfectly. Porter also assisted with on-site tweaks which allowed the curtains to open and close perfectly. Along with Lipson and Grey, he made sure that every tassel was in place and each curtain had the exact fullness needed. 

Since its premiere, the production has received rave reviews and shows no signs of slowing down.  ShowStoppers is running through October 2015 at Wynn Las Vegas. 


Use the same products in your next production! Here are some of the fabrics used in ShowStoppers:

Frazzle
Gliss Velvet
Classic Star Drop
Shimmer Organza 
For information about ordering metal beaded curtain, call 1-800-223-1624

 

To read the full feature in Light & Sound America, click here.

Projection On Scrim

Here's a response to a customer inquiry that might also be of interest to many others...

Issue: "I am trying to front project on the scrim with a projector that conceals the set behind it with good light control. Please suggest a scrim for me and anything I should be aware of."

Response: Projection onto scrim can be a bit tricky but if you know some of the ins and outs you should be able to avoid the challenges associated with this effect. 

All of our (scrim products) can be used for projection but typically theatrical projection is done on the old standby of white sharkstooth scrim.  I have also seen projection done on elements of painted black scrim and scenic painted scrims.  We have seen many desirable front projection effects and images produced on black scrim that has been sprayed (on the front) with rear-projection Screen Goo, as this makes a great reflective surface for the image on a black substrate.  I personally do a lot of outdoor projection onto vinyl mesh like textilene or speaker mesh with great results.  The scrim material chosen will depend on your application and the desired seamless area.

The effect of a scrim heavily depends on the control of stray light. It uses contrast to fool the eye into thinking that the material is opaque.  Traditional theatrical scenic scrims are typically lit from a very steep angle so that the light that passes through the scrim falls just upstage or in the wings.  As long as the space and objects behind it stay dark, you will not see anything through the scrim.  If there is front light hitting the scrim straight on, or at a shallow angle, it will illuminate the area and objects behind the scrim.  This is true for direct and reflected light from the stage.

When you apply this to projection, things will get a bit more complicated.  The ideal setup will depend very heavily on a number of variables; the effect to be achieved, desired quality and purpose of the projection image itself, and the technical capabilities of the venue.  All of this is assuming front projection on scrim since rear projection is not advisable and is typically done for effect only.

If your primary concern is projection image quality, you will likely want to put the projector in the house straight on to the scrim.  This will produce the best quality of image but is the worst case scenario in terms of making a scrim appear opaque.  This is typically how scrim projection is accomplished but it will likely require a blackout immediately upstage of the scrim.  This blackout will catch all of the projector overshoot and certainly mask the scenery or stage behind it.  Just before the reveal is made through the scrim, the blackout will be flown out or traveled open.  If you are looking for a double image, the blackout may not be necessary at all as the background would be dimly lit the entire time.

If you are looking for less quality of image and more effect, the projector(s) can be placed at a sharp angle to the scrim and blended into one image similar to the way your stage lighting would be.  This requires equipment capable of this type of image warping and will certainly reduce the overall quality of the projected content.  This can be a technically complex setup and will require the appropriate projectors and image processing.

 

 

 

Beautiful Effects With Jacquard Fabric

Jacquard fabrication allows a designer to create fabric with intricate custom patterns and imagery at a small required minimum yardage. With Jacquard, your custom artwork is not printed, but digitally woven into the fabric itself. The result is a deeper textured look and feel than ordinary fabric printing can produce. With Jacquard, several color shades can be combined in various fabric densities, resulting in areas ranging from sheer to opaque in a spectrum of tones.

The James Taylor 2014 tour used a Rose Brand® custom Jacquard curtain for a fabulous backdrop. This piece combined a light grey, sheer pattern with a dark grey, opaque pattern that lit beautifully from the front and back. In the photo up top, the grey fabric took on the colors of the lighting used.    

Interested in learning more? Call Rose Brand customer service at 800-223-1624.

Jacquard Fabric