I'm pretty sure we have talked about this before, but I can't find the thread about preventing sunlight through a window from causing light fluctuations on set. 

After some experimentation, I found the best and cheapest sulution is to make a diffusion curtain out of heavy black garbage bags. Some windows will be higher or wider than the bag will cover, so you might have to tape two or more of them together. But you will end up with a large sheet that does a very nice job of blocking out any light you don't want, even you can still see some light coming through with your eyes.  At the end of the day, if the camera doesn't see it, it doesn't exist. I like to take test shots of the set with no lighting to make sure I'm getting a completely black image. Then I light from there. What this does is keep you from bringing the exposure up too high to where ambient light will be seen on the camera and cause fluctuations as the sun goes behind a cloud or comes out from behind one. More often than not, you will find that if you light and expose from complete darkness, you will be wanting to  stop down the camera to close up the iris more than you will want to be opening it up. In some cases, the bags might need to be more than a layer thick, as in where you need a stop of F/16. In the case of using a higher stop like F/5.6, you won't need to completely block the window, but just dim it several stops.

I've tried blankets, cotton sheets, cardboard, and aluminum foil - and so far, the black bags attached with masking tape have worked the best. They even allow access to the window on a hot day when you need some air. The cardboard tended to not want to stay up, the aluminum foil bowed in and bounced light everywhere, and the cotton sheets weren't thick enough, so the black bags ended up being perfect for my setup. Hope this helps someone who is wondering how they're going to animate in a room that wasn't designed to be animated in. You can even use this setup in hotel or motel rooms when you're on vacation.


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Here's my solution - a bit more permanent:

The right half was already boarded up like that when I moved in here - the particleboard patch is covering an old hole for a dryer hose and the green stuff is plugging a water hose hole (the guy who lived here in the past was a home handyman). Those are my set lights plugged in there. I just added the section on the left. A little crescent of light still gets in where I had to make a cutout around the window lock, but no direct sunlight gets in and it's never caused the slightest fluctuation in set lighting. If I want to I can just unscrew it. 

You're hardcore, Strider! Your solution looks like how the big studios would do it.

It is hard to get all of the light out. It's like trying to stop a water leak...I like the more permanent setup and would use it, but I don't know how long I'll be here and I've signed a rental agreement that prohibits alterations to the windows.

Stephen- sounds cool! Never heard of duvetyne. Cheaper?

You can buy black polythene sheet off the roll in the hardware store here, 2 metres wide or more. It is opaque and pretty cheap. You can tape it up, or hang it like curtains.
My studio has roller blinds, which I found thrown out on Hard Rubbish day, and salvaged from the nature strip. Some fitted, some needed the width cut down. I also made up pieces of 3 x 1 mdf that hang either side to seal the edges. I seem to usually leave them closed, even if I am making stuff and not animating, because they also improve the insulation. Or I can't be buggered taking the sticks off and raising the blinds, maybe.
In a rented space with tall windows, A friend used the same 10mm thick corrugated cardboard that I built the sets from (called Sceneboard and made in the UK) to wedge in against the glass. When the film was done, we removed it, and he used it for sets for some other project.

Duvetyne is the film industry standard to block light ( here in the US ). Completely light tight and flame retardant ( if steady lights are near it, its still good ). It's also know as commando cloth, Molton or Rokel. One side has a velvet-like finish that will look black on camera, even with a bit of light leak on it. Used in Flags, cutters and floppies to control light.

The bad thing is it's stooopid expensive ( but lasts forever and is very useful/ flexible ). Cinema terms are kind of goofy.... a "4 by floppy" is a 4 foot x 4 foot metal frame that can be mounted on a c-stand. An extra 4 x 4 section can "flop" down to make it 4x 8 in total. This is the quickest way to black out lots of windows on location.

Ok, my turn again!! 

This is less permanent...

Up in the painting studio I have blackout fabric - it's vinylized I believe for total opacity and held in place using a rather ingenious system I want to share here.The picture isn't mine, I found it online. The important parts are the three bowed fiberglass rods. You can see the one holding the bottom corners in place and the one at the middle, and you can just make out the top one behind the blinds. It's a great and very economical system - they give you the three rods with plastic end caps - you cut the rods to an inch longer than the inside recess of the window frame and put the caps on, then bend the rods and put them in place. They act like springs and hold it in nicely - no holes or screws needed. 

Since it's probably unlikely somebody could replicate this, here's the brand - Shift Shade Total Blackout Window Covering (I got it through Amazon US). But somebody might be able to use the idea and rig up something with cheap black plastic. 

I priced duvetyne a while back and it was pretty expensive if I remember right. That's what they use in the real stopmo studios. 

Wow - Stephen I didn't see your response when I typed that - I could swear Nick's was the last response!! 

I think I can vouch for the white shade!!! Today I put my hand against the black plastic and was surprised to find that it was very warm. I don't know if it's hot enough to ignite, but I don't like the idea of trapping heat between the curtains and the window. The other window wasn't affected because it's in shade and continues to be cool to the touch. Back to the drawing board...

Aluminum foil. I'm using aluminum foil, now. And feeling sheepish.

The setup I have is not ideal but it meets my requirements. I live in a small rented flat. I am not allowed to alter the walls and my animation setup is usually temporary as I am using my living room.

I am using a product called "Lights Out Portable Black Out Blind". It seems to be advertised at parents with small children who struggle to get to sleep when its bright outside. It is a blackout blind with a bendy wire edge and a window sucker in the middle on a draw string. They flat pack down into a smallish circle in a carry bag. I have been very pleased with it as it doesn't take up much space and cuts out the majority of the light, bit pricey though.

Photos found through Google Images:


I tried cardboard but I had a tough time making it work well enough in our windows. I had use a lot of duct tape in the end, and then I had to use a harsh glue-remover to get the goop off the walls. I also tried thick foam-core called Gator Board, and that worked much better to block the light, but the edges were still an issue. I think gator-board is similar to Nick's scene board. It's like a thick foam board.

I'll be using duvetyne for the first time when I shoot my Will-O-Wisp animation though. I just learned about duvetyne a month ago on a commercial gig. That stuff is awesome. It's extremely durable too, so even though it's expensive it's an investment that would last a very long time. I got lucky though. A couple I know worked on a shoot where the company let the crew take whatever they wanted on the last day, so they ended up selling a lot of G&E gear and equipment for crazy cheap.

Light is so tricky though. No matter what material you use, the slightest little opening can let enough light in to bounce around and cause problems. Therefore... The grand solution: Brick and mortar!

Cellarmation- I like that! Really nice (although, everyone's ideas here are great).

Mike- If I could modify the window, I would do more than modify the window... :P I'd have rack-mounted stages with a height adjustment perf bar on one wall and a lighting grid built into the ceiling. :D

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