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Craig Alan
black curtains
on Nov 9, 2010 at 3:18:47 am

Have some large windows we need to black out and absorb sound. Any specific products/sources you can recommend?

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Todd Terry
Re: black curtains
on Nov 9, 2010 at 5:13:26 am

For these kinds of sound/blackout needs, one of the easy/fast/cheap things to do is hit your local Harbor Fright Tools and pick up some of their large moving blankets.

They are quilted furniture pads, in various sizes, black on one side and gray on the other.

We've used plenty of times to pull double duty and block windows in a room that was also too acoustically live.

They are not quite the quality of real Matthews sound blankets... but do pretty much the same job. And last time I checked a Matthews blanket is $50+... whereas these Harbor Freight pads are about five or six bucks apiece.

T2

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



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Mark Suszko
Re: black curtains
on Nov 10, 2010 at 3:48:09 pm

And Harbor Freight prices are lower than the local U-Haul trailer place, which also sells or lensd blankets like this. For hanging them, HF has some great tarp-grabbing clips in the back of the store, near the ropes and etc.. ,


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Todd Terry
Re: black curtains
on Nov 10, 2010 at 3:56:57 pm

I forgot about that source, but Mark's right. You can get furniture blankets at U-Haul as well, if you don't have a Harbor Freight Tools in your city. BUT, they are more expensive than the ones from HF... and I think most of them are blue, not black.

Or, you can get them online...

http://www.harborfreight.com/40-inch-x-72-inch-movers-blanket-47262.html
http://www.harborfreight.com/72-inch-x-80-inch-movers-blanket-66537.html
http://www.harborfreight.com/72-inch-x-60-inch-movers-blanket-93156.html
http://www.harborfreight.com/36-inch-x-40-inch-movers-blanket-93162.html

T2

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



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Craig Alan
Re: black curtains
on Nov 11, 2010 at 3:14:17 pm

Thanks all,

How does Duvetyn 16 oz compare to sound blankets in terms of light and sound control? The windows we are tying to cover are much larger than the blankets and the installation will be semi-permanent. So decent looking would be nice.

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Dave Johnson
Re: black curtains
on Nov 11, 2010 at 3:59:22 pm

Duvetyne won't do much for sound issues since its intended for lighting and is, therefore, not nearly as thick as the moving blankets Todd & Mark suggested. I suppose you could use many layers, but that'll get expensive. Unless you buy it in large rolls, Duvetyne is relatively expensive because it has to be fire retardant to be used with hot lights ... not sure, but my guess is that moving blankets aren't fire retardant.


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Mark Suszko
Re: black curtains
on Nov 11, 2010 at 4:23:18 pm

If they are semi-perm, what I'd probably do is build a wooden frame to tightly fit the window space, then staple the blanket into that, put a plastic film on the side that touches a window, and cover the whole thing with matte black cloth from a sewing supply store, so it looks like a stage flat or art canvas. You can make you own fire retardant by soaking stuff in a borax solution, but better to check the regs with your fire marshal's office to see what's legal. I always recommend Rose Brand in NYC because they can sell you certified fire proof or fire-retardant cloth.


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Michael Easparam
Re: black curtains
on Nov 14, 2010 at 10:29:56 pm

Have any more information or photos?

A velour type curtain absorbs sound quite well and is very attractive. 16oz would be the minimum, and much heavier is available if you have the cash. This blocks light very well. The thick nap of the curtain is what helps with the sound. Ignore the 8-12oz "supervel" or "velite" which is a fake velour and very thin.

After choosing a good fabric, then you need to choose a sewing style. Flat curtain will be cheaper but not so attractive. By adding fullness to the curtain (pleats, etc) then you are not only adding more fabric to block the sound, but it looks much better.

Have someone like Rose Brand or Dazian actually sew the curtains to look like window shades or whatever. If you need more sound absorbtion, place 1" thick fiberglass insulation panels behind the curtains (this is tightly compressed fiberglass, not the pink fluffy stuff). Do not have the drape lay right against the fiberglass. A 1-2" air gap between them will actually block just as much sound as both the fabric and the curtains.


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Craig Alan
Re: black curtains
on Nov 15, 2010 at 1:20:44 pm

Thanks All,

Michael, this was what I had gathered from searching for sound absorbing/light blocking material for a studio. But info was hit or miss and I thought the cow folk could help. I had found the Rose Brand site and they seemed to recommend their commando cloth (16 oz). I forwarded the link to the people who will be trying to budget the "studio" make over. The windows are very large and there are quite a few of them so I doubt we can afford anything thicker than the 16 oz. Do you have a link for the fiberglass panels?

Dave/Mark, The Rose Brand site mentions the fire retardant issue and although there is a lot about this old building that is not up to code, for new additions through funding, it must be.

Todd,
I’ll probably try to order a bunch of sound blankets in a regular yearly order and use them where needed to help with the sound. It’s pretty bad though. If we get a drop ceiling put in, it will help. Not sure of funding.

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Todd Terry
Re: black curtains
on Nov 15, 2010 at 3:34:47 pm

Hey Craig...

If your room sound is that bad (sounds like it's more challenging than I thought based on the first post), you'd be well advised to hire a good acoustic engineer to come in and do a little bit of consulting. There may be a lot of opportunities for improvement that don't readily meet the eye.

The ceiling, especially, in addition to (or sometimes in place of) the drop-ceiling acoustic tiles there might be some opportunities to use some different material... or occasionally vertical tiles rather than horizontal... that will improve things.

Case in point... there is a large venue in our city.... it's actually a museum, part of the Space and Rocket Center. A couple of years ago they built a new facility, it's one big room about the size of several gymnasiums put together (I'm not sure exactly how big it is, but it has a complete real Apollo-era Saturn V rocket lying on it side in it... so it's huge). It has a high smooth ceiling, polished concrete floor, and about a zillion square feet of glass windows all the way around it. It should be an absolutely horrible room for acoustics... but they host on-stage events in there and the sound is clear as a bell. The guy who does their sound is also our occasional audio engineer, and told me how he calculated exactly where to put these vertical sound baffling panels hanging up in the ceiling to handle the problem. It's really quite amazing considering the enormity of the room and the relatively small amount of panels that it took to fix it. He just knew exactly where to put what and where.

That might be worth the investment for you.

T2

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



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Steve Kownacki
Re: black curtains
on Nov 24, 2010 at 12:04:19 am

I too use Harbor Freight for blankets and gizmos. Can you tackle this as 2 issues? Sound and light. Block the windows with a roll of landscape plastic, 20x100' roll at Home Depot is cheap. It's also VERY lightweight compared to duvetyne.

Then control the sound nearer your subject - packing blankets on the floor and c-arms close to the talent. Any cheap/free rug scraps work too - a few spring clamps on a c-stand and hoist 'em up. If you block the sound close by it won't create the echo.

What are you specifically trying to shoot? If you have really wide shots, it may pay you to dub in the audio where the closely-placed sound control is removed in the wide shot.

Steve






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Craig Alan
Re: black curtains
on Nov 27, 2010 at 4:19:43 pm

Thanks all.

It is out of my hands now. Sent in my request and the budget will either come through or not. If not, I've gotten some good ideas here on how to make do.

Steve, very good ideas on low budget fix.

Do you just use gaffer’s tape or some other variation on duct tape to fix the plastic around the windows?

If the budget request does not go through, I'll set up an area for a one-camera interview/teleprompter/performance type shoots by blacking out the windows and using c-stands and blankets and an area rug and a backdrop. I've done this before in an even tighter space, but I was hoping for something more professional and versatile. Wide shots would be impossible unless the full budget request is approved. So we are talking about one or two person performance pieces, instructional videos, PSAs, interviews, teleprompted talking heads.

If I assume I’m setting up a shoot using c-stands and hanging blankets, backdrop, etc.,

how do I control the sound space above?

The room has high ceilings with an awful echo. What would be the best way to fly something from above that would help with this? It would need to not block the backlight. I have a scrim kit that allows me to float a reflector/diffusion above the talent, but I’ve never tried floating heavy blanket(s) above.

If they were mounted higher than the back light in the room’s support beams, would that help or does it need to be in closer proximity?

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Steve Kownacki
Re: black curtains
on Dec 1, 2010 at 12:13:49 pm

Hi Craig,
Here's some pix when I was hiding traffic glare from the front of a retail store - http://www.flickr.com/photos/finalfocus/1532680809/in/set-72157602347054928/ - used aircraft cable, taped the plastic to it, and hoisted it up. There's alot of tension so you need great support. On windows, gaffer tape will be just fine every foot or so. Remember to budget time to do that, a genie lift will be very helpful, but a tall ladder will do... not to mention an assistant or 3. I've also used that porous landscape fabric that does not completely block the light, but it WAY lighter; that you can tuck into the drop ceiling tiles and let it hang.

Sounds like you have access to the joists in the ceiling. Something where you can hang things from safely? You could build a frame out of 2x4s and drape blankets over it. Attach pulleys to the joists and use cable to hoist it just over their heads. Again lots of time and prep. Other option is to rent a few crank-up stands, put a truss across (30' wide is not a problem), and affix your rig to that. Think of a light truss at a concert. By all means BE SAFE. That falling on someone could kill them. Just like any suspended fixture, put a safety cable on it and make sure you liability insurance is up to snuff.

If you're not going to see the floor, put carpet everywhere, or soft furniture, whatever you can to cover hard surfaces. Put stuff behind and to the sides of the camera as their voice is projected in that direction - stopping the 1st sound reflection will be very helpful. The blankets on c-stands need to be just out of frame, the closer the better. Box them in as best you can.

Steve






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Craig Alan
Re: black curtains
on Dec 2, 2010 at 3:17:24 am

Thanks Steve,

Will the landscape fabric block the light enough so we can use Tweenie II kit (3200k)?

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/166978-REG/Mole_Richardson_5826_Tween...

Or should I go with the heavier plastic? Have a link for the stuff you used? Obviously I don't need a huge roll like that but the windows are large. If need be, I'll measure them and give you the dimensions.

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Steve Kownacki
Re: black curtains
on Dec 2, 2010 at 12:42:57 pm

http://www.lowes.com/pd_119095-23132-119095_0__?productId=3102759&Ntt=lands...
Problem with this stuff is its only 3' wide so you can drape side by side or tape lengths together. Will allow some light to come in.

http://www.lowes.com/pd_16906-18632-RSBH410-25B_4294865824_4294937087_?prod...
This is 10' wide. If the windows are small enough you can even just slit garbage bags on the sides to get a sheet that's 3'x6' in a pinch. Nothing special, nothing pretty, simply blocking light.

As far as the lights, that's a relative question. Are you using any existing lights like fluorescents or halides that may be in the room and you are supplementing? How artsy are you trying to get? How far back do your lights need to be? How big a focus issue do you want? Less light = opened iris = less DOF. If they move around alot focusing will be more difficult. My thought would be to get the room ambiently lit with some big lights and use your kit to do a bit of modelling.

I re-read the thread and you want semi-permanent/nice looking. The plastic can be put up and off in less than an hour. I like Marks idea of the wooden frame that you set in place. In a hospital the other day I used 6' shower curtain tension rods from Target. Taped the curtains to the rod while on the ground then hopped on the ladder and set them in place. Blocked nearly all the light, but total blackout wasn't necessary. Maybe the tension rod with nicely sewn (Michael's idea) duvetyne would do the trick, they'd look like curtains. Good comment on the fire retardant issue. Any local seamstress could do this for you quite cheaply. Look to a high school costume parent too; this would be nothing for them to whip up.

For any more ideas you'd have to post some pix of the room - let us see the windows, floor and ceiling. That would really help.

Steve






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Craig Alan
Re: black curtains
on Dec 2, 2010 at 3:16:27 am

Hi Todd,
I just reread your post. When I read it last, I was thinking no way they'd pay for consultations. But if the budget does go through, sound treatment was mentioned in the proposal, and he could potentially save them money. However, the room you describe seems at least evenly shaped and thus perhaps less complicated to calculate than this mess. I went to a conference at another high school that just built a new auditorium and the entire room was raw plywood panels the worst room acoustics I have ever been in. They had speakers there miked into high wattage powered speakers and not only was it hard to understand what they were saying, but you left with a headache. They had some sound panels on the sides but obviously they didn’t consult your guy. Do you have a contact link for future use? Any idea what he costs per consult or per day?

OSX 10.5.7; MAC Book PRO (EARLY 2008); Camcorders: Sony Z7U, Canon HV30, Sony vx2000/PD170, Canon xl2; Pana, Sony, and Canon consumer cams; FCP certified; write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Todd Terry
Re: black curtains
on Dec 2, 2010 at 3:28:49 pm

Hi Craig...

I have no idea of the cost to consult on a job like that, but shoot me an email off-forum (contact info in my profile or click our webline below my signature to take you to our site where you can get it as well) and I will get you the contact info.

T2

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



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