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Bob Cole
net
on Mar 22, 2008 at 11:44:13 am

Please excuse what may seem like a redundant question; Dennis Size and John Sharaf have already answered parts of this but I just want to be sure I understand.

This is an interview set-up question involving a net that will be in the shot.

I'm working on a low-budget, high-travel documentary, and fighting the infinite depth-of-field problem with my highly portable Sony Z1 camera. I have a Chimera Panel Frame 42x72" on which I'd like to stretch a net, in order to visually separate the subject from the background.

Issues:

What color net? I'm assuming black, but gray might also be interesting.

What type of fabric? I need something that travels well -- which I can fold up, and yet will not show creases and wrinkles when stretched on the frame. (Dennis recommended Rosebrand's Sharkstooth once, I believe -- but will this fabric deploy wrinkle-free?)

Would black window screen work? I've seen it used in sports anchor booths for the shot of the commentators with the playing field in the background.

Do I have to worry about moire with any of these fabrics? The 1/3" chips in the Z1 mean that there ia a huge depth of focus, so the net would be in the shot.

Thanks! I'm willing to experiment but would like to narrow my choices down first.

Bob C

MacPro 2 x 3GHz dualcore; 10 GB 667MHz
Kona LHe
Sony HDV Z1
Sony HDV M25U
HD-Connect MI
Betacam UVW1800
DVCPro AJ-D650


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Todd Terry
Re: net
on Mar 22, 2008 at 3:21:23 pm

Hi Bob...

I'd suggest that you conduct some tests quickly...

With a "real" net scrim you shouldn't have to worry about wrinkles much. They are frequently folded, rolled up, or even wadded up and survive just fine.

I have actually used window screen myself back when I was a little more do-it-yourself inclined (I'm tired now). It works, and works well. BUT, it's not going to travel well. You can't fold it, or wad it up... you will bascially have to roll it up to preserve it.

On the upside though, a roll of black fiberglas (yes, you want black) screen door material is available at places like Lowe's or Home Depot for about eight bucks (I haven't used it for photo use in years, but as luck would have it last week I did have to repair a screen door). Depending on where your documentary is traveling (is it domestic?) that's more than cheap enough to buy on location, use it, ditch it, and pick up another roll at the next stop if it proves to bukly to travel with on a lean mean run-n-gun shoot.

My biggest concern would be your deep depth of field. I almost always shoot very shallow DoF so it's not an issue, but the deep DoF will be as you do not want the scrim within the focus plane. It must be soft for the effect to work. In this case the screen door stuff might actually work better than real scrim (sharkstooth or whatever) because the weave is so much tighter on the screen door material. But again, it must be out of focus... if you have to use the Z1 with the stock lens I bet you will have to position your camera fairly far from your subjects and the screen fairly far behind them, and zoom in to properly frame.

But... it's cheap to test. If I were in your shoes I'd head to the hardware store to buy a roll and set up some test scenarios.

By the way, you can also use the screen door material in an overhead butterfly if you want to cut sun intensity but not cut shadows and you don't have, say, a real Matthews quarter-stop silk on hand. If it is far enough above your subject you won't see the weave pattern (if it is close, you will). But resist the urge to use this setup with an artificial lighting instrument... the fiberglas screen is fairly low-temp flammable, and has a coating that will start to smoke and burn off in very short order (something I foolishly tried a zillion years ago).

Good luck!... let us know what you come up with.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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john sharaf
Re: net
on Mar 22, 2008 at 6:12:11 pm

Bob,

What you're trying to do is actually quite complicated, because to do it successfully requires a truckload of grip equipment. First off the net, which I'd recommend to be a single black net, must be tightly stretched on a proper frame fare enough back from the subject so it'll be out of focus. You're absolutely correct to observe that moire can be an issue and this is precisely why a double net will not work. In addition considerable care must be taken to keep the net in the dark, both from whatever lighting you're aiming at the foreground subject and from whatever ambiance naturally falls on the net itself. Finally of course safety is an issue, so securely sandbag and or rope the frame so it doesn't fall on the subject when the wind comes up.

Really your best bet here is to force the iris as open as possible with shutter or nd filters, tighten up the lens to as much telephoto as you can stand and choose a background that is in the range of exposure.

JS





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Bob Cole
thanks
on Mar 22, 2008 at 7:14:44 pm

Thanks John and Todd for the great reality check. I can see that this is probably an inappropriate technique for this show. I won't have a truck and I'm locked into using the Z1 with its huge DOF.

Backing off enough to keep the key off the net means a much bigger frame than I can cart around. I saw a very stylized show once, where they used a muslin backdrop but framed it so that you could see the actual background as well. That's probably the best I can hope for but it is a bit theatrical for this particular documentary. I'm going to get a single net for the frame, just to play with. But I probably won't use it for this show.

Thank you again! Sometimes the best set-up is the one you don't use because it won't work.

Bob C

MacPro 2 x 3GHz dualcore; 10 GB 667MHz
Kona LHe
Sony HDV Z1
Sony HDV M25U
HD-Connect MI
Betacam UVW1800
DVCPro AJ-D650


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