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General Information, Scrim Effects

Reveal Effect with Scrim

There are several effects that you can achieve with scrim. The most common is the 'reveal effect', which means an actor or setting is made to appear or disappear behind a scrim by lighting change only.

An example of a 'reveal effect' using a scrim

Look at this wonderful shot on the left, and then look to the right to see how the shot was set up. (The girls have switched places, but the set up is the same.) Notice that one girl is spotlighted behind the backdrop and one is in front of the backdrop. This is a photographic interpretation of the theatrical scrim effect. Read on for the explanation...

There are basically two states of a scrim:
  1. The scrim is lit from the front (audience side) and it become opaque so it looks like a solid color screen--the color is any color of light you shine on it.
  2. The scrim has no light from the front (the audience), and some subject (in this case an angel) is behind the scrim and strong light falls on the subject. This typically would be a spotlight on the angel. So now you see your angel with a glow around him. This is similar to the glow around the children on the carousel in the gallery picture, so take a look at that.

Scrim Set-up Diagrams

Scrim state one:   The angel will not be seen--the scrim will look like a sky if you use a blue scrim, or any color scrim with blue gelled lights.

Scrim state two:   The angel will be seen, and will have a soft glowing effect.

The very simple rule is light what you want to be seen. Light something you want seen behind a scrim and it shows, don't light it (light the scrim itself instead) and it doesn't show. To make this all work, you need control of your lighting both in front of the scrim and behind --which is dicey if you are outdoors.
To see this effect demonstrated view this YouTube video:

Secret Entrances with Scrim

This can only be achieved well with a scrim that hangs square,has no seamed edge and does not moir´(why you use Chameleon™ scrim, don't try this with sharkstooth!).

Two scrim panels are hung to overlap from side to side, but to be offset from front to back leaving an opening that an actor can step through. The actor steps toward the scrim and makes a quick side step through the opening.

Shadow Screens with Scrims/ Shrinking and Growing Effects

A strong light source is placed upstage behind an object and facing toward the scrim (and the audience). The shadow of the object is projected on the scrim.

Beware that the light source can 'blind the audience', So tilt the lightsource slightly up, just high enough to miss the audience's eyes.

To make an object or person 'grow' larger, move the object closer to the lightsource. To make a person shrink, move that person away from the lightsource. (The lightsource can laso be moved).

Silhouette Screens with Scrims

To get a perfect silhouette most people try making a shadow screen with disappointing results. Shadow screens exaggerate images. Its far easier to make a perfect silhouette by turning the lightsource backwards and strongly washing the back wall in light. Then the actor steps between the backwall and the scrim. The result is a perfect silhouette.

To do this you need a flat lightable surface as a back wall. You can substitute a second scrim or cyc or plain drop. Usually use a light colored surface so that you can wash it strongly in light.

Distance Effects with Scrims

Scrims add a feeling of distance to sets, and also obscure small painting errors in landscapes. Any scrim can create a feeling of distance when placed between the audience and the scenery. However the yoe of effect varies slightly between types of scrim.

A bobinette scrim will add a very faint level of distance to the scenery. A sharkstooth scrim will add more depth and distance and a slight diffusive quality. Chameleon™ scrim will create the strongest distance effect and cause the landscape to glow. So for example using a mountainscape painted as a the most upstage drop, bobinette scrim would look least distant. Sharkstooth would llok more distant. Chameleon™ scrim will cause the mountains to look most distance with a little 'haze' or cloud cover--and cause the mountains to glow slightly.

A very underused technique is to add lighting effects to the scrim, while still revealing the landscape behind the scrim. For instance with a mountainscape behind the scrim, a light 'special' can be projected on the scrim itself to be the sun or moon in various positions at times of the day or night. Thus the static mountainscape now is dynamic. This can be done with cutouts of mountains revealed behind the scrim--so a full painted drop is not needed, reducing cost and time to paint or rent. Notice that a cityscape can also be created out of cutouts and lit for various times of day.

Front Projection and Rear Projection on Scrims

Scrims can be projection surfaces for simple colored light, or gobo projections, powerpoint/slideshow projections or full moving picture projections. Quality of projection depends on the type of scrim.

A sharkstooth scrim can be used for projection with modestly good effect. A Chameleon&trade, scrim is better for projection--both front projection and rear projection. There is also a special type of sharkstooth that is intended for front projection--silvered sharkstooth. No scrim will be as good a projection surfaces as a projection screen, but Chameleon™ and silvered sharkstooth come close.

Chameleon™ is far less expensive than sharkstooth or a projection screen.

To read more about scrims and projection...read more.

Why Chameleon™ Scrims?   How is our scrim different from other scrims like sharkstooth? Our products can be used instead of sharkstooth scrim, or with sharkstooth scrims. The effects achieved are slightly different, but similar.
Ultimately it all depends on your artistic needs and your budget.

  1.   Ours is made in a different fabric.
  2.  Ours comes in 14 different colors
  3.  You can layer two of our scrims one in front of the other, for special color effects--without a nasty moir (interference like) pattern.
  4.  Ours doesn't hourglass.
  5.  Ours is made to be used in panels. No nasty side seams.
  6.  Ours is textural. It gives off a slightly fuzzy mottled look.
  7.  Ours gives a glow on the subject behind the scrim. This gives a special effect that can't be gotten with ordinary scrim.
  8.  Ours is economical. Don't be afraid to paint on it, because it doesn't cost an arm and leg like sharkstooth.
  9.  Ours comes in 15 foot 8 inch widths.

This is both a plus and a minus. The minus: 15' is very wide, but sharkstooth is wider. The plus: Sharkstooth can't be hung as panels without hourglassing--when it stretches it becomes narrower in the center. Sharkstooth also needs a seam on the edge, which would show if you hung it in a panel. Ours doesn't need a side seam. Ours doesn't hourglass and needs no side seam. The diagrams show some of the differences..

Like this article? Try   Types of Photo Backdrops. or try   Types of Scrim.

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