Howdy people. This may seem like an odd question or one with an obvious answer. I have a room in my basement with a space about 16' x 14' that I am converting into a studio for stop motion. I have a 7' work bench in there for model/set construction, an 8' shelving system and have room for a 7' x 4' table for sets. (not sure if that's too big). The ceiling is open & all set for lighting. Aside from opinions on what size my table should be for sets/animation, I am really not sure what the best color for the walls would be. I imagine it will certainly effect the lighting of sets. I could hang curtain rods from the ceiling and go the black curtain route. Any thoughts on the subject would be greatly appreciated.


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I think the usual answer would be to have black walls or curtains.  But if, like me, you have to use the one space for both making stuff and filming, you probably need light coloured walls so you can get enough light to work by.  I went with a very light grey, not quite white, with a white ceiling, for my studio/workshop.  It doesn't seem to be a problem for normal shooting, in fact a bit of ambient light bounced around the room can be a benefit sometimes.   I seem to be able to get high contrast lighting with dark shadows if I want it. 

The only time I could do with less reflected light is when shooting the backlit silhouettes for frontlight-backlight compositing.  Light bounces off the white screen behind the puppet, and because the ceiling and other walls are pale, some is bounced back at the puppet so it can be hard to get a good black silhouette.  I generally get around that by boosting the contrast on the backlit frames in post.  But I have bought some black fabric so I can hang curtains around next time, to reduce the ambient light.  I still need good light to work by when making sets and puppets so I don't want to paint the walls dark.  

I have a 6 ft x 4 ft table for larger sets, but can put an 8' x 4' top on it.  I usually want that much for exterior shots.  I also have a couple of 4' x 2' tables, which are big enough for most interior room sets, and they can also be used to extend the bigger table.   Actually they are all folding rostrums with separate tops, so I can fold and put away the ones I am not using.   But in practice, I also use them for building stuff on, as well as my fixed workbenches.


Thanks for the advice Nick. I like your idea of a light grey color. I may do just that. I think I'll see how I fare with that and add curtains if needed. Sounds like my set table is in line with yours as well. I really appreciate the feedback! Thanks.

Black is best .. but light grey works just fine. Make sure to get a 'neutral' grey and not something that has any colour in it (not all greys are equal ;-)
Photographed once in a grey room that had a slight green cast to the colour. I didn't notice it until later to my surprise - was able to fix it in PhotoShop at least.
... jbd


 I have found that a sky blue or light grey will give you the "best of both worlds" for workspace and studio.

Thanks everyone for the feedback. I think I will try something in the light grey to light blue range and see how that works out. I really appreciate the input. Off to the paint store!

You should go for neutral colors. Black, grey or white. Don't go for light blue. Personally I'd go for medium grey.

The reason why black is preferable over white is because light not only bounces back but also if a shadow is cast on the walls that move (e.g. yourself, a door, someone else) the ambient shifts over the set, causing flicker that has nothing to do with the camera.

I haven't found it bad working in a black room. Bit depressing to be surrounded by black, but if you got a good lamp(s) it's no problem. 

However the black curtain thing might be handy if you want to corner off a little area for shooting and another area for working (so you can have light walls there and black walls in the work area bit). Just make sure when you get curtains to a) make sure they are fire-resistant b) keep your lights at a safe distance from them either way :)

Also in studios the curtains are made of black velvet as it scatters the light off. Some fabrics are still quite reflective despite being black. The same goes for the walls. Not to make them black velvet, but to make sure they are matt black.

Just stating the obvious, just in case ;)

Black is always best. It is depressing though as Bianca notes. Also landlords and "the wife" take a rather dim view of someone painting their walls black. It is an absolute nightmare trying to paint over a black wall later. Black drapes may be better if you have these problems to deal with.
... Jbd

Thanks all for the input. It looks like I am going with a light to medium gray color on the walls with black velvet drapes. I think that will be the best of both worlds, covers all the concerns everyone mentioned and gives the room some versatility.

Light gray also gets my vote... with black curtains or cotton sheets hung from the ceiling

Gray doesn't reflect light much if it's matte and sometimes you can get away with not covering it with black cloth/curtains at all. In my first several years of animating I never used either and didn't have flicker problems. Ceiling is light gray as well.

I bought some black stage curtain fabric called "Molton" - not velvet, but fuzzy, and black enough.  It comes in 3 metre (10 ft) wide rolls, which is good.  IF I need a more intense black in my shadows and the pale walls seem to reflect too much,  I will use it.  So far I have hung it on my backdrop so I could shoot backlit steam and smoke in front of it.

Velvet is great if it needs to be on camera and you can't keep the light off it, the pile is like millions of black holes sucking all light in.... but very expensive, and this stuff works well enough.   They also do it in white, and chroma key blue and green. Turns out the theatrical supplier is a block and a half from me.  There must be similar places in the US and UK for this stuff.

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