WILL ROGERS FOLLIES, stairs and scrim


this is my first attempt at set design with a scrim and i'm very nervous... the theater group is doing WILL ROGERS FOLLIES this year, and if you're not familiar with the show, the set consists of a large ziegfeld staircase... several scenes are to take place on the stage apron - scrim behind it... i've been warned that that lighting scrims can be tricky - that movement and sets behind a scrim are often visible when the scrim is lit from the front at certain angles...

having never worked with scrims, any advice you could offer would be incredible... please help!!!

thank you!!!


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I'm also interested in this topic, as we may be using a scrim in our production this year.


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Yes, what you heard is true. It is hard to make a scrim completely opaque, you will usually be able to see, even somewhat difficultly, anyone who is behind the scrim. To deal with this, most places use something called a blackout drape (at least I think thats what its called). It is a big black piece of fabric that sits right behind the scrim, and only flys out (or travels out in some other way) right before the scrim effect is used.

This big black drape makes sure that you can't see what is on the other-side of the scrim, and if you light the scrim from the front no one should ever know that the blackout drape is there.

If you can't do that, then your going to want a total blackout behind the scrim (so if you want people doing a set change or something else complex back there, they can't, because it needs to be a total blackout). You also would want to flood the front of the scrim with as much light as possible. I believe that light from a high side works the best to keep it opaque, but I couldn't tell you for sure. (I'm only thinking that because a set piece was put in the wrong place during one show, and consequently the scrim on that set piece was very opaque when I wanted it to be see through).

I hope this helps.


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Oh set changes can be done in total black, we turned of literally every light, even in the booth, for the twister in Wiz of Oz, and for all other scene changes there were no work lights on stage. Every change went smooth enough to please the audience. As long as you light a scrim properly, you can't see much except for maybe the scrim and anything DS of it. The lights were not set for hiding behind the scrim and it still somewhat worked.


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Lighting Scrims...

If you are lighting a scene in front of a scrim, you will want to use as little front light on the scrim as possible, because it will light through the scrim, and that light will reflect onto whatever is behind it. When that happens, the audience can see behind it. The steeper the lighting angle, the better off you are. Top lighting is good also, and even better if you are not hitting the scrim with it. Try to avoid direct front lighting. If you have side lighting, they may be most effectice, as long as it is a reasonable distance from the scrim. To make the scrim appear to be opaque, blackout the stage behind the scrim, and if possible, have a black traveller pulled behind it. If there is something white behind it, such as a cyc, it will be very difficult to hide it. Also, no matter what the lighting conditions, scene changes and people moving behind the scrim will most likely be obvious to your audience, so don't expect it to act as traveller, even when properly lit, because almost half of the light hitting the scrim is going right through it, and will bounce off of what ever is back there. If you can avoid lighting the scrim alltogether, the resuts will be much more effective.

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