Making a starfield


Well-Known Member
Ok, for Into the Woods we need to make a starfield. We are thinking about useing chrismass lights (the white ones everyone has on there tree) and using eather a scrim, or if we need to use that as a front curtin, buying another curtin or useing that. I would love to buy a real starfield, with all the cool stuff, but unfortunatly the price is to high.

anyway, my question is mostly is would the chrismass lights be safe, and sould we find a special material. Is there enough heat in a chrismass light to hurt and/or start a fire???

Any sugestions would be very helpful, Im thinking up ways to hook it into the bord and be able to do cool chase-type stuff with it....

Thanks for any imput


Active Member
Quick and dirty way would be to put a piece of heavy aluminum foil into a gel frame and attack it with a sewing needle - make a star-field gobo... just a thought.



Senior Team Emeritus
Premium Member
Starfields are quite easy. Of course they are much cooler if you can use Fiber Optic...but what you propose with the Xmas lights will work just as well. The xmas lights should not be hot enough to burn anything really...they usually get warm but not red-hot. Best results you would want to use a bobbinet scrim as its a wider weave and see-thru, but still opaque enough NOT to see thru. Use some ultra-small black zip ties to attach the strands of xmas lights dangling down from the pipe to the scrim so that you don't have "wavy" stars when you fly it in or someone walks by it<g>. Cool thing you can do with bobbinet is put it in front of your cyc light units--so that your cyc and cyc lights are behind the bobbinet. Add a nice R80 or R83 to the cyc lights and pop them on at about 40% or so and you have a faint deep blue nite-sky with the stars and it gives a bit of "perspective" and depth to the star effect so it doesn't seem so "flat". Nice thing about some of the xmas lights is many have the features in microchip to twinkle and do all sorts of other tricks.

hope this helps...



Well-Known Member
Great idea wolf!!! I wasn't even thinking about lighting the field...

I really need to put in an order for sone real gels. My school currently offers 5 colors. We have red, green, blue, pink (all of the pinks are burned through, it takes 3 or 4 just to dim the light a little) and orange. THATS IT

we currently ownly have 12 fernels (500 watts each). We just got a lot of $$$, so we are FINALLY building a booth, as well as a place for the spotlights to be. This is going in the gym where we do our plays. Our orrignal idea was to hang a frame-type thing from the gym sealing, something that would be able to move up and down (down for the shows, up out of the way for basketball). We were going to set it up so that when (hopefully at the end of this year) we bought some nice leco's or other cool toys to hang them there, as well as be able to have lights going stright down and border the stage with the valures that we got from Radio City (LONG story, but we got about $60,000 worth of stuff from them for free)

However, the cealing of the gym isn't strong enough to support the weight, so I don't know what were going to do about possibly getting a fly, or hanging lights stright down...

IM going to talk to the guy in charge of all this and see if we can get some good gels though. Though we are getting another guy who dose the lighting at a reginal theater around us to do lights for us, he'll understand more. The tech teacher dose sound, and dosen't know much about lighting...




Senior Team Emeritus
Premium Member
Sounds like it’s all coming together for your theater.

Don’t forget the maintenance and rainy day savings.

On Scrim or Bobbinet, it should be flame treated - don’t forget that note and flame treating on drapery is only good for five years thus part of the rainy maintenance fund.

Don’t forget also that anything you install in the gym is going to become a target for the jerks about with anything they can throw.

On starlight drops as we call them, mounting them to a scrim bobbinet is an interesting concept. Kudo’s Wolf. I used to make them with cable ties on about a one inch square or hex netting to do a similar thing. The netting was easy enough to deal with, cheaper and perhaps a bit stronger than if I read Wolf right 1/4" hole size scrim material. It given the hole sizes had more sag and stretch problems with the lights on the other hand.

One thing you do want to do is to get a more industrial type of X-Mass tree lights - ones with “shunt” type lamps. These lamps when they die will go out without taking out the entire circuit. One burnt out lamp that’s not lit is a lot easier to find than a whole chain of them. The only thing about it is that without that lamp the rest of the string is going to be operating at a higher voltage - remember them candy questions and lamp life? In other words, every time you use such a chain you should probably inspect it for bad lamps but at least you would be assured the thing is going to work thru a show and not have a string go out. Thus the value of the more expensive shunt type lamps.

In addition to this, put the string on a dimmer. The more you dim the lamps, the longer they will last, plus you don’t need full intensity for the effect. I have some X-Mass tree lights mounted to the back of a soft flat with a textured cloud pattern already on the fabric so sizing for me was white glue and water thus clear. The Lights show thru the fabric at about 30% for a starlight effect in the bedroom at night. It does not take much wattage to even have the lights punch thru fabric, even with a scrim layer under it as I have. Just a question of ambient light in the room or what is hitting and bouncing off the scrim or fabric the lights are projecting thru.

Another way of doing this all is to use a full stage black drape and punch and glue the lights thru the fabric.

You might look into the relatively new X-Mass tree light net products. It might even be possible to use them when supplemented by cable ties as one large net all by themselves given they are available with shunt type lamps. It might be a little more uniform in layout than useful, but might be of use in looking at even for doing the attachment to bobbinet - that way you don’t have to do as much work in laying out the wires/lights and putting them in place that will fill a large area. All it takes is one bad lamp and with a chain snaked all over a drop you have a major headache to fix. Been there done that. A voltage sniffer and multi-meter will help but not enough. If you use a net without it shunt type you will loose an entire section. That’s at least the advantage of individual strings of lights - you can snake them and cross chains with them all over the place so that should you loose a string it won’t be as apparent.

Finally, on doing some kind of “West Coasting” folding and pulling up of your drop or roll drop type of system. Review the anything you install as a target idea above, than at least have made for it some kid of sock or bag so you can protect the drop not only from physical damage but also dust. I would probably go more for having installed some “Sundays” as some call them or swaged wire rope cables that drop down from the suspension points in the ceiling that you can clip your drop(s) to when they are brought out of storage. That way you can remove the drop, work on it on the floor and store it away when not used.

On the rigging, hopefully your lighting guy is versed in it sufficiently otherwise it’s well of use to hire someone that can engineer something for you. It might be possible to rig you some light pipes that are suspended from above and also supported by pipes or booms to the floor at the sides to pick up some weight. Such booms won’t do much for supporting load placed towards the center of the pipe but will help some. Problem is that they will be in the way. Perhaps some form of trussing or pipes going to the side walls will be an option. Again, your eyes on site will hopefully be able to give the call on the subject or will know a rigging company that will engineer hanging stuff for you. Remember the target idea, lights left hung in the gym proper will be targets. Stuff to think about.

Last thing, have fun - as if you were not already.


Well-Known Member
yea, the only problem is I am the lighting guy, as well as the sound guy, the SM, the lighing designer, the sound designer...

for the set i work with a friends father, who had the idea. He basicly comes up with the artistic stuff, I figure out how to make it work...

it is really going to depend on what happens with the space.

Thanks all
One cool idea that looked really good onstage was to attatch little mirrors or reflective pieces of fabric (double sided) to string or wire and hang that infront of your cyc or scrim. It doesnt involve electricity which kinda takes out your idea of chasing lights but it also is not a problem for things being burnt or breaking. Also if you can shake the hanging strings just a little, it gives a twinkling look to them. and also dont hang them straight or evenly spaced or anything, this looks really fake if the stars are all in a striaght line and perfectly spaced. Lighting your cyc or scrim with blue is also wondeful but you will always want just a little pure light with this idea so the mirrors have something to reflect. Another idea is to attatch the mirrors to a strand of Christmas lights. This looks really good but I personally dont like it and think that Christmas lights look too fake unless you take some of the lightbulbs out so the light is not so evenly spaced. Well I hope this has helped you.

Mark (TMP)


Well-Known Member
um, mark, I didn't even think of that. It would deffintly be easier and cheeper.....

Im not sure... We still haven't gotten the script and music in yet, so I can't look it over and figure it out yet... I might want to be able to dim that starfield while the stage lights are off, but if i don't need to that would deffintly be easier....


we made a starfield for CATS last semester...
i used something like 25 net lights connected in columns of three (each on it's own outlet)...
search for the type where a pulled-out bulb will not break the circuit... then you can pull out all of the bulbs that you do not want to use...
we didn't have such foresight... the circuit in ours would break, so we couldn't remove lights... instead, we bought a ton of these little "light condoms" (that's what we called them) online... they slip over a christmas light to black it out without getting too hot...
after we'd got the right array of stars, i covered these nets with a black scrim... believe it or not, when the scrim moved slightly, the lights twinkled JUST like real stars... it was beautiful!!!


Active Member
i made my own starfeild for about 50 bucks last summer. Find an ingroud pool installer near you and give em a call. Chances are that they have some fiberoptic cable scraps (used fr lighting round the edges). See if you can buy them off them, then what i did was i cut the sheathing away from it, made a bunch of them different lengths, and just hung all the fibers randomally from a couple of pipes to give it depth. For lighting, we just had all the cables coming back to one main spot, gaff taped em all together, and shinned a mag light through them. Now weve got a par on each pipe blinded into the cable packs on each pipe, and 4 packs on each pipe so we can do twinkles and fades and different times of nights and stuff. Works really well for the 50-100 bucks it cost me. BTW...i rigged this all up on a seperate pipe that i hang from the main pipes so that i can take it down without messing it all up.

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