Figure 1: A correctly lit sharkstooth scrim in an opaque state.
The most common placement of lighting instruments for a scrim is above and directly in front of the scrim. However, that isn't the only lighting position that will be effective. Remember: angle angle angle! As long as your lighting is oblique, and can wash the scrim, it doesn't have to be from above. If your scrim is in an extreme downstage position, for example, footlights can be very effective for scrim washes. (In this case, the “spill” light is lost up in the flies, behind the proscenium and/or masking borders.) In a “wing and drop” set, the strips can be mounted vertically on each side of the scrim so that the spill will wash off-stage, between the wings downstage and upstage of the scrim. Also, in most situations, having a blackout drop a foot or so upstage of the scrim is helpful, but not necessary.
Figure 2: The transition begins. As lighting on the set upstage of the scrim is brought up the bleed-through effect begins to show.
While obvious to some, it might also be helpful to point out the lighting positions that will NOT work for lighting a scrim. While lighting from the "front of house" will certainly light the scrim, it will also light everything behind the scrim as well. This is because sharkstooth scrim is essentially a series of holes tied together. When lit from the font, the holes will let the lighting continue upstage and illuminate everything behind the scrim. Moving the lights to the box booms will only help if the position creates an angle so severe that the spill disappears offstage. Lighting from the balcony rail is probably the worst position. For those who remember high school physics, since “the angle of incidence equals the angle of return,” lighting placed at the balcony rail may provide the maximum visibility of the scrim AND the scenery behind it, for those who are sitting in the orchestra.
Figure 3: With the bleed through effect almost complete you can see that the scrim is still being front lit as it has not completely "disappeared."
Equally important in making the scrim work its magic is lighting the scene behind the scrim. If you want the scrim to disappear when the dissolve is complete, the lighting for the scene to be revealed must all come from behind the scrim. Any lighting from in front of the scrim may well reveal the upstage scene, but will also continue to illuminate the scrim itself (and any scenery that you may have painted on the scrim). While this may be the effect that you’re trying to achieve, if you want the scrim to disappear, it cannot be lit. Your scene lighting should come from an electric upstage of the scrim (and blackout drop), or from side positions that are also upstage of the scrim.
For more information on lighting a scrim check out our following blog posts:
How To Light A Sharkstooth Scrim (Part 1)
How To Light A Sharkstooth Scrim (Part 3)
Please see our Scrim Fabrics for a broad selection of products in varying widths, composition, and colors.