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Hanging a big, flat (fabric) screen

Discussion in 'Multimedia, Projection, and Show Control' started by jamsession, Apr 17, 2008.

  1. jamsession

    jamsession Member

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    I made a BIG fabric screen (48 feet wide, 12 feet high!) from drapery material with a rubberized backing. It's strong fabric, will hold the weight of the screen, has a tight weave (good reflectivity) and less wrinkly than muslin, etc. It weighs about 40-50 lbs - I think it will make a pretty cool screen / stage background for projection and effect lighting.

    Next trick - how to best hang this jumbotron. so it hangs flat in various venues.

    I primarily will use it on a school stage. Which has curtain rails a foot below the ceiling. so, I will probably put grommets in every 6" (maybe folding over the top 2 inches, to give the grommets a double fabric strength - maybe not needed esp since grommets every 6", but I think will be nice. Will always be used indoors so wind not a factor. Then I can use s-hooks and the little wheel curtain rail rollers to slide it around.

    Question 1) in this setting, best ways to tension on sides/bottom? I could wrap side ends around a pvc pipe, etc. or put grommets on side and bungee seperately to give a little more flexibility. (would need to come up with some kind of pole/stand (volleyball stand? - the old rubber tire with cement in it) on the sides, or get an elephant to hold still for 2 hours.

    Question 2) for free-standing applications, such as in a gym or theatre, without a curtain rail above, how best to hang, so it is flat and even?

    If using lightweight cable, I'd think a 50 lb screen will have some sag (not good for screens), so I'd have to have serious eyebolts into the wall / ceiling structure, basketball stands, etc. on each side, or multiple hanging points along the top hanging down from ceiling? Dont want to use an external frame that big, so looking for best ways to rig with a cable if possible. (What size cable would I need?)

    a friend of mine tensions a large green screen with sandbags and cheap spring clamps ($10 a dozen) in the lower corners to tension horizontally and diagonally.

    I'll probably use a carpet tube (3" diameter, 12' long) to wrap it on to minimize wrinkling

    Any suggestions / experience welcomed. Thanks!
     
  2. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    I'm thinking just sew a pipe sleeve into the bottom, and run a 1" pipe through. But you're probably going to get some side curving no matter what you do.
     
  3. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Follow this link for standard theatrical drapery construction. What you've built is essentially a cyclorama, abbr. "cyc." (I just read "psyche" on a famous person's rider!) I agree with [user]len[/user] that a bottom pipe pocket is essential, and 10' lengths of 1/2" EMT (conduit) and couplers are a good alternative to 21' lengths of threaded 3/4" BIP. To deal with masking the curvature of the sides, consider using a set of black velour legs, which would give your drop a finished look, as well as allow for width adjustability.

    Rigging with a cable, or putting eyebolts into someone else's building, is absolutely out of the question. By asking the question, you have demonstrated that you do not know enough about rigging to attempt it. Hire a qualified rigger, or don't do it.

    For freestanding applications, follow this link for Pipe & Base, and don't forget sandbags for the bases.

    Was the material used IHR (Inherently flame retardant) or are you planning on treating it yourself?
     
  4. jamsession

    jamsession Member

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    Thanks both for the helpful info.

    1) so the "velour legs" would be self-standing pipes and hook to various point of the end, or, for shorter stages/walls, the screen would roll up around them?

    or, as I think about it - a velour banner that drops down on each side, which is straight itself and can be moved horizontally to mask the screen and side curve. I'm guessing that's what you mean.... good idea!

    Any pics or links for existing examples? I'm into building what I can, am pretty handy.

    >> Rigging with a cable, or putting eyebolts into someone else's building, is absolutely out of the question. By asking the question, you have demonstrated that you do not know enough about rigging to attempt it. Hire a qualified rigger, or don't do it.

    no argument there :^) ..... I'm mostly a sound guy and learning about lighting. I've seen existing eyebolts at some halls, and without knowing how strong they are or not, am wondering how you would do it if there was no I-beam "noodle" railing available. I won't attempt this until I know the best way, that's why I'm asking, and my current gig will have the curtain rails (I-beam). THX for the link!

    >>Was the material used IHR (Inherently flame retardant)
    yes.

    There's a drapery place local which will put gromments on top and the carriers (wheeled hangers with S hooks that hook on the I-beam) on the top, I'll have them sew a pocket on bottom for 1/2" conduit pipe. They actually did the curtains for the school years ago and are familiar with it.

    Thanks again for the suggestions, experience, and links.

    a fun project - it will add a lot to future performance capabilities for lighting fx and projection.

    Cheers
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2008
  5. jamsession

    jamsession Member

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    an update -

    Since the top will have grommets with s-hooks and carriers (wheels that hang on stage I-beam track) in order to hang nice and straight, be easy to adjust/tighten,

    it currently looks like the easiest way to use it in other venues is to get 3, 16ft sections of I-beam track, and hang the I-beam via horizontal cable or free-standing poles, or cable drops from ceiling structure, etc. The I-beam can be drilled and screwed with a connecting piece, and then when moving I'll only need to undo one side of each connector. I'll put the 3 track pieces in a piece of PVC pipe during transport, (and the screen in a 10" piece of pipe once it's wrapped in plastic tarp to keep from wrinkling.)

    I'm putting the pocket in bottom for 1.5" inside dia pvc pipe.

    now, side tensioning......

    I could do side pockets for pipe, assuming it was exactly square, would be easiest, but I think I'll grommet the sides every foot so I can bungee it, and then hang a black 2' wide, 12' high drape ("leg?") on each side of screen to cover that. I like black crushed velvet (panne) but it doesn't hang straight worth a bean unless I put some backing on it. The things we go through to get a nice looking project. I welcome any suggestions on any of above but I'm getting close.

    now to make some sandbags.......
     
  6. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    See the glossary link: sandbags.

    My favorite, for the DIYer:

    Dead Baby Seals: Easy way to make a sandbag. Take a tire inner tube, Zip-tie one end several times, fill with sand, zip-tie other end. Result is a 10-25 lb. sandbag that looks like a dead baby seal. Not for overhead or Fly System use!
     
  7. jwl868

    jwl868 Active Member

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    On the bottom pocket: The outer diameter of 1.5-inch schedule 40 PVC (which is what I think you mean by 1.5 inch ID PVC) is just under 2 inches in diameter. The outer diameter of couplings is just over 2.5 inches (2-9/16 inches).

    Joe
     
  8. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Note that an external pipe pocket
    [​IMG]

    is generally preferred over a flush pipe pocket
    [​IMG]
    especially if you're using 2" nominal pipe. The "standard" bottom pipe is 1/2" ID sched. 40, threaded, up to 21' lengths, for it's weight and rigidity. But for a drop that's only 12' tall, conduit or PVC pipe should work fine.

    These images and other tips on construction of stage draperies came from this site.
     
  9. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    How are you using this? The 48'x12' size makes it sound like you might have multiple images or even edge blending. Especially if you are edge blending, you need to make sure the screen is totally flat.

    Have you considered doing it just like they do large screens? Make a pipe or truss frame that can be easily dismantled with a lace and grommet system from the screen to the frame so that the screen can be tensioned and adjusted all around the perimeter of the material. Look at Stewart Filmscreen, Hurley Screens, Da-Lite, Draper and others for some idea of how they do large lace and grommet or even snap type screens.

    Another option might be to look at the tab and cable tensioning system some of those same manufacturers use for their electric and operable screens. There is a curved cable attached via tabs at either side of the screen such that when the screen is stretched vertically the cable helps pull the screen flat.
     
  10. jamsession

    jamsession Member

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    Thanks all, for the suggestions, links - good stuff.

    I got it hung up tonight, with 1.5" ID, 2" Outer dia pvc schedule 40, it was heavy enough to put a good tension on bottom. It looks RAD. The drapery place isn't in the habit of making big screens, they got some smudges here and there in the sewing process, but the material is scotchguarded so I'll clean it up tomorrow. a friend and I tugged slightly on the long ends after hung, and it flattened right out. I still gotta come up with a free standing pole I can bungee sides to. the school doesn't have volleyball stands (the old tire full of cements) handy, and I'll want something I can use in other venues, so we'll see. Good news is it only needs surprisingiy little horizontal tension, maybe 2 to 4 lbs at the most, even for a 50 ft. screen. I like the baby seal idea. If you use a mountain bike tube, would that be a "dead snake" or "dead eel" maybe?

    I may try a pocket steamer to take out the bigger wrinkles, but may not be needed once horiz. tension is in place. The drapes guy said once it has hung for a couple hours with the poles in bottom pocket, will take most of it out. We'll see.

    I threw some projection and gels lights on it tonight, it looks really good. when the wrinkles are out, it will look RAD. I put it behind the piano player and I can silouette him with color in back.... sooo much better than the black curtains before. opens up lots of creative possibilities.

    Plus I realizes that when moving it, I can keep the rollers on the I-beam, and just hook it and unhook it on the s-hooks.

    It went up suprisingly fast - 5 mins. the trick it to have it rolled correct side out, as the curtain rail I'm putting it on is only open on one end, the other end has a train track circle thing where you route the track to other areas of the stage. Since top and bottom are fixed paramaters, and I do have a "front" to the screen based on sewing and how I'm hiding the seams (seams are more noticable from one direction than the other. Since audience will always be below the screen, I determined which was was up, and put the grommets at the preferred "top" direction.

    I rolled it on a carpet tube, the tube stuck out 3" from the end of screen - exactly how high it rides off the floor. So with me on the ladder hooking it to the rail, and one other person below holding it upright, we just unrolled it as I hooked it on. I put a tarp underneath to keep it clean in case it fell.

    Overall I'm very happy with it.

    If I were to do it again, I _might_ look for a fabric that I could rear-project onto (but I love this fabric - tight weave, rugged, very white). The stage has 18 feet behind the screen, but to fill a screen this large with standard projector lens, not some expensive wide-angle job, I'm back twice that far, exactly 36 feet which puts me 10 or 15 feet from edge of stage, not bad at all.

    So we have piano in the middle, projectors on left and right. one of them set to rear-projection so it does a mirrored image of the motion video (slow clouds and bubbles and such) - lots o' color, enhances the performance, doesn't distract from it.

    I'm very pleased, it's jumbotronic. Now to make some motion video loops for the background.

    Cheers
     
  11. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    For side tension to which to bungee, how about a pair of 50# Lighting boom bases with 12' Sched. 40 1.5" BIP TOE?
    [​IMG]
     
  12. kwotipka

    kwotipka Active Member

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    I like it! I like it! I will have to pass this on to a friend of mine!

    kw
     

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