Rose Brand Know-How Blog

Entertainment & event production tips, news & stories

Giving New Life To Old Curtains: How an Artist Recycled Stage Curtains

 

Rebekah Lazaridis is a multidisciplinary artist who creates mixed media pieces using tattered curtains, bruised platforms and dented flats. In the Fall of 2015 she used recycled Rose Brand curtains to produce her solo exhibit titled “Broken Legs” hosted at The Sheen Center in New York City. The painting exhibit visually explored theatre superstitions, taking the viewer behind the scenes of long standing theatrical myths, spooks and folklore. 

Rebekah shared with us the inspiration for the show and how she created the 45-pieces. Step inside her world and learn how she creates her art.

What was the concept for “Broken Legs”?
I’ve been immersed in the hauntings of theater since I was 12. I remember hiding backstage to eat my lunch and feeling this weighty presence, even though I was completely alone. I loved finding out the history of theater superstitions and trying to visualize them. These paintings were an effective way for me to share my love affair with the theatre, both the physical space and the spiritual-emotional atmosphere that lingers there. 

What was the creation process like for each piece?
I would cut off a piece of a curtain and paint it. Then I’d cut the painting, reorient it and sew it back together to create a whole new piece.

How did you come up with the idea to use old theatre curtains and give them a new life?
I’ve been working with old discarded theatrical platforms and steps for several years. I wanted to do some work on fabric and toy around with a theatre curtain, mainly the black masking legs. Eric Haak, a fantastic technical director and dear friend, said he had some old ones and offered them to me. I thought it would be the perfect substitute for bought canvas.

What were the unique parts of working with old curtains?
I love the fussiness of the velour. It’s the most difficult fabric I’ve worked with and seems to have a mind of its own. When applying paint to it, some areas refused to soak any more paint. I like the idea that I have this giant velour creature hanging in my studio and one day it wants me to paint on it and one day it doesn’t.

What were some road bumps you hit creating these pieces?
Whenever I applied water to the curtains, the fabric would appear stained or damaged. The stains, I later found out, were salts from the fire retardant that surfaced from the water. I liked the shapes of the stains and ended up working around them. They became personality flecks on the pieces, like birthmarks.

Where did you get the curtains that you used for the project?
I used curtains from places where I had personal history, whether I had performed there, designed sets, painted or worked in some capacity. I reached out to my contacts at those theaters and they donated many pieces. Some of the theaters I work with are very old institutions with old curtains. The oldest curtain I worked with was from the 70’s or 80’s.
 

How many painted pieces were included in "Broken Legs"?
There were 45 pieces total from 4-5 different theaters.
           

What was your favorite thing about this project?
Knowing that I was doing something creative for both theatre people and art lovers and bringing that idea to the big city for a solo show – there’s nothing like that feeling. It was such an amazing opportunity and experience and I couldn’t be more grateful. 

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Rebekah Lazaridis has worked for many years in Florida and New York City as a professional scenic painter for theater, television and film.  She has done murals in Washington DC, Tampa, FL and her hometown of St. Petersburg, FL. Learn more about her work and upcoming exhibits at www.rebekahlazaridis.com.

 

 

Pick Keying Materials Like a Pro


Digital keying effects are used in virtually every form of film-making or video production today.  Whether you are shooting the next “Avatar” or are a prolific YouTube content creator, you probably use this special effect technique to combine or overlay images and footage together into one seamless composite.  And you may wrestle with the decision over which color of keying background to select and what keying surface to use. 

Understanding Keying

What is Keying?

Keying (also known as compositing) combines visual elements from separate sources into a single image. This creates the illusion that all those elements are part of the same scene.

The technique requires the use of a uniformly-colored keying backdrop, such as a "green screen" to achieve the effect. Through the magic of compositing or keying software such as Fusion™ or Nuke™, the green colored items in the scene (the keying backdrop) become transparent. This allows an editor to insert a different background in its place (a street scene, a mountain, etc.).

 

Color Options for Keying

With today’s advanced compositing software, you could technically pull a key from almost any color background.  But the majority of effects are shot against either a solid blue or green background.  To complicate matters, these color standards are available in two basic flavors:  Chroma Key (Green or Blue) and Digital (Green or Blue).  The Chroma Key colors are a darker shade and duller color.  The Digital colors are much brighter with a purer color hue. 

 

What Determines Color Choice?

The decision is usually determined by what’s being shot, how you’re shooting it, and what type of final scene is being composited. You’ll need to consider:

  1. The colors of the costume, wardrobe and other elements in the shot
  2. The subject’s proximity to the backdrop screen
  3. The level of detail that needs to be separated from the background color

 

If your subject contains a lot of blue or green then selecting to key against a blue or green background is an easy decision.  Choose the background color which appears least in your subject, either in the costumes or scenic elements.  If the subject does not clearly dictate the choice, then most professionals today choose to key in front of green rather than blue.  But either way, this choice is yours and you can get an excellent key in front of either color.

 

When to Choose Digital

When possible, it’s recommended to choose Digital Green or Digital Blue.  The brighter and purer hue in digital colors allows more separation between your subject and the background. 

If your subject contains very fine details that need to transfer – like fine hair, wisps of smoke, or cast shadows – then the bright, clean separation between the subject and background using Digital Green is crucial. 

 

When to Choose Chroma

If your subject is close to the background, choose the duller, Chroma option. The brightness of the Digital color is much more reflective than the darker Chroma Key colors.  If subjects are too close to the background, you may see the background color reflect and spill on the subject. This spill can create a halo of colored light on your subject that computer software will interpret as background and eliminate in the final key.   

PRO TIP:  If you experience a halo effect in a well-lit composite shot, try backlighting your subject with the complementary color of the background – Amber backlight in front of Digital Blue and Pale Magenta backlight in front of a Digital Green background. Or, use Chroma Key instead where the darker color is less likely to reflect a colored halo into your subject.

 

Choosing the Right Keying Surface

Rose Brand offers a wide range of materials to meet you budget, your technical requirements, and the physical constraints of your location when it comes to choosing a keying surface. Here are some product options:

 

Fabric Backgrounds

Fabrics as wide as 10ft seamless are available in Digital and Chroma Key colors.  Make your selection based on price and size, keeping in mind that a fabric background must be stretched wrinkle free in order to pull a clean key.  Other factors in your choice will be FR rating, color choice, and reflectance.  A matte finish is best for close work, while a slight sheen can help with separation between subject and background.  Browse Keying Fabric

 

Floors and Curves

A Chroma Key vinyl floor may offer the best solution for a studio that will get moderate use and where continual repainting the floor would create a logistical difficulty or be too expense.  Chroma Key Floor is 63in wide and double sided with Chroma Key Blue on one side and Chroma Key Green on the other.  In addition to providing a durable floor, the vinyl can also be used to create a continuous scoop from wall to floor which eliminates the “corner” where floor meets wall.  This intersection often creates a difficult area where a green screen and green floor don’t match nicely.  Creating a scoop prevents the shadowed region where floor meets wall and that is often difficult to key out.  Browse Keying Floor

 

Paint the Wall

Chroma Key Blue, Chroma Key Green, Digicomp HD Green, Digicomp HD Blue all make an excellent keying background.  With proper preparation, these paints can even be used on the floor for short term shots with light traffic.  One limitation to a painted Digital Green wall is the expense of the paint and that the wall cannot be moved with you.  Browse Keying Paints

 

 

If you have any questions about the best keying backdrop to use for your shoot, please don’t hesitate to send us an emailcustomerservice@rosebrand.com or call us at 800.223.1624.

 

Creating a Custom LED Drop Using Kenny Net and LED Pixels

Take a look behind the scenes at how Jeremy Roth and his team made the LED backdrop and how it looked on stage:

Wilco, an alternative rock band, kicked off their 2016 Star Wars Tour in front of a custom made LED drop featuring 1,850 individually controlled LEDs, 10,000 zip ties, and 1/2 mile of interconnect cable all arranged on Rose Brand Kenny Net

The tour’s lighting design was driven by designer Jeremy Roth’s desire to combine 3D effects with LED lighting. “I had seen many other products and productions using flat LED screens or star drops, but not many that were able to use the depth of the stage to create multiple transparent layers with those products.” More...

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Brings a New Look to the Ed Sullivan Theater


A Rose Brand Chameleon ShowLED drop is located behind The Late Show logo above center stage.

 

When Stephen Colbert started his tenure on The Late Show, it began a new era in his career and initiated a face lift for the show’s home, the Ed Sullivan Theater. The Ed Sullivan Theater began as a Broadway house and Colbert is a fan of its architecture and history. 

Jim Fenhagen, Executive Vice President of Design at Jack Morton/PDG and Scenic Designer for the project, worked very closely with Colbert to design the set. Fenhagen was quoted in Lighting and Sound America saying, “Stephen wanted to celebrate this gorgeous old theatre that had been covered over through the years with sound-proofing and lighting grids." He added, "We really didn’t feel the theatre until we renovated it. We integrated the set with the theatre in a way that created this sort of modern vs. classical architecture, which is a fun tension." More...

Project Management and Custom Sewing for the American Repertory Theater

Stephen Setterlun, Technical Director at the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University, was staring down a fast approaching opening for Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. His production specs called for over 60 Marvel Velour fabric panels in Rouge, each in a unique size, many with different hanging finishes. He needed the reassurance that his project would be completed on time with precision, technical skill, and closely matched dye lots of fabric. 

With the pressure of the short deadline looming, Setterlun turned to Rose Brand’s project management team. He was impressed with Rose Brand’s large stock of fabrics and sewing capacity. When discussing the project, he felt reassured when “a number of individuals from Rose Brand responded very quickly with a plan and a commitment to make it work on time.” More...

Community Spotlight: NewArts: Newtown Musicals

Art has long been a form of healing. After the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut, community members turned to the arts once again to help students cope with the tragedy. Community members knew the power of the performing arts in providing a powerful avenue for self-expression. And thus 12.14 Foundation and its performing arts division, NewArts: Newtown Musicals was born. The organization’s goal is to use performance pieces to help students gain confidence in a safe and nurturing environment and increase their overall understanding of themselves and how they interact with the world. 

12.14 Foundation has completed five large scale musicals, three of which involved the assistance of Broadway talent and Rose Brand materials and supplies. More...

Understanding the Basics of Projection Screens


The world of projection can be confusing at times. We’re here to shine some light on it (no pun intended). Here are answers to common questions you’ve asked us about selecting the right projection screen material. For the novice, consider some of the more basic info below. For the more technically advanced looking to buy a projection screen, take a look at Technical Information on Projection Surfaces

 

Projection Resources:
Projection Glossary: Terms That Everyone Should Know 
Learn what Ambient Light and Hot Spot mean as well as other basic terms

When To Use Each of 54 Different Types of Projection Screens 
Also includes the specifications you'll want to know before buying More...

Glossary of Common Projection Terms

To help you select and understand projection screen materials, here are some commonly used terms from the projection world.

Projection Resources: 
Basic Info for the Novice
Learn which side of the screen should face the audience and other valuable information

When To Use 54 Different Types of Projection Screens 
The Specifications You Want to Know Before Buying

 

Ambient Light
Ambient light is any light in the viewing room created by a source other than the projector or screen (daylight, overhead lighting, hallway lighting, etc.). Ambient light differs in each space and, depending on the space, can be controlled. Ambient light reflects off the screen and washes out the image. The more ambient light there is in a space, the brighter the projector has to be and/or the darker the projection surface needs to be in order to increase the contrast ratio. More...

What You Need to Know About Acoustics (Part 3)

Stage Curtain at Baruch College
Photo: Todd Kaplan

 Rose Brand has partnered with our friends at Stages Consultants to create a blog series about the acoustical applications of fabrics. In this 3-part series, we discuss some of the more common approaches for using fabrics in performance spaces and also the things to consider when choosing a fabric for your project.

Read Part 1 here.
Read Part 2 here.

In this third and final installment, we look at some acoustic data for Rose Brand’s fabrics and discuss how these differences might be applied in room acoustics optimization.

 

What’s It All About? 

We are looking at ways to use fabric primarily to provide sound absorption in rooms. Sound absorption reduces reverberation and loudness, and can also control reflections that may create strange sound images, echoes, or resonances. The quantity, concentration and distribution of sound absorptive materials in a room will vary depending on several factors; room size, the shape of the room, and the types of activities that will take place in the space. More...

What You Need to Know About Acoustics (Part 2)

Window Curtains at Baruch College
Photo: Todd Kaplan 

 

Rose Brand has partnered with our friends at Stages Consultants to create a blog series about the acoustical applications of fabrics. In this 3-part series, we’ll discuss some of the more common approaches for using fabrics in performance spaces and also the things to consider when choosing a fabric for your project.

In our last blog installment we gave an overview  on use of Rose Brand fabrics in performance space acoustics. In this second installment we take a closer look at the acoustically important differences between fabrics and identify some considerations in choosing the right fabric and integrating it into your design.

Read Part 1 here.
Read Part 3 here.

 

The Acoustical Differences in Fabrics

Fundamentally, absorption of sound occurs when air molecules interact with the pores of a porous material. Acoustical energy, transmitted through air, is dissipated as a result of viscous effects and thermal conduction with the material. The effective absorption of a material is determined by a combination of characteristics: the porosity and thickness of the material, how deeply air penetrates it, whether it is mounted to a hard or soft backing, and whether there’s an airspace behind it. More...