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Stuart Allman

applying ND gel to windows

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Folks,

 

I have a practical location where one of the key story elements is a window in a living room. Since we're in Southern California I need to gel the window so it doesn't go "nuclear" while we're shooting. What is the best way to apply a sheet of ND gel to the window?

 

The assumption is that we'll start with a Lee ND/0.9 4' gel sheet because that's what we think we can get inexpensively. If there are better/easier/cheaper options I'd love to hear about them.

 

Using "big" lights isn't an option for budgetary and crew experience reasons. The house is a 1940's style rambler with "old" electrical circuits, so I'm very power limited right off the bat.

 

Thanks in advance,

 

Stuart

----------------------------

illuma.blogspot.com

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I'm assuming that hard acrylic ND sheets are out of your budget...

 

Depends on how close you will get to the glass and how tight they can tape a sheet across the window frame, because if they can't or you have to get closer to the glass with the camera, you may need to use some soapy water and squeegee it onto the glass. Hopefully your grips have some experience with this.

 

Keep in mind that ND gel looks heavier when viewed at an extreme angle compared to flat on.

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Do you plan for the windows to be in focus? Like Mr. Mullen said, unless you're using hard gels, gelled windows almost always look pretty bad. The best way to do it is with a spray bottle (I do a little bit of soda and water) and a squeegee, but even then you'll see microbumps that will appear like rain unless you have completely clean windows and gels. I would recommend trying to throw the window out of focus and then using something like Rosco 3423 (Cinescrim) behind them. This is much easier to attach to the outside of a window. Ideally, If they're really out of focus, you can try to use something like a 4x4' double net, or whatever will fit your window.

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I was thinking that they would use the squeegee method since we don't have the budget for custom acrylic. The grips are yet to be hired by production and I'm booked on gigs the next two weeks, so I may have to ask a friend to do the final inspection.

 

The window in question has a round top edge and it's a very old wood frame window, so it would be difficult to get something that perfectly fits. In my house I used the Gila spray product from Home Depot as the "adhesive" to tint some windows with Gila gels. It's not perfect, but it's suitable. Sticky soda would be a bad choice in Southern California. We have problems with ant invasions and this is someone's home.

 

The DP and director said they will be either framing wide in the room looking toward the window (establishing) or there will be action in the middle of the room looking at two characters having an argument with the window in the far background. So I think a few bubbles and imperfections will be fine. I think a scrim would be obvious in the wide shot. Besides, I think we're going to need at least 3 stops. The camera is an F3, so it's not like the Alexa in terms of highlight retention. We also have no big lights to blast through other windows besides shiny boards.

 

I just wanted to check if there is a more professional way to do this given that I've never ND'ed a window for a film project before. From the responses so far it sounds like we're on the right track.

 

Many thanks,

 

Stuart

---------------------------

illuma.blogspot.com

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I was thinking that they would use the squeegee method since we don't have the budget for custom acrylic. The grips are yet to be hired by production and I'm booked on gigs the next two weeks, so I may have to ask a friend to do the final inspection.

 

The window in question has a round top edge and it's a very old wood frame window, so it would be difficult to get something that perfectly fits. In my house I used the Gila spray product from Home Depot as the "adhesive" to tint some windows with Gila gels. It's not perfect, but it's suitable. Sticky soda would be a bad choice in Southern California. We have problems with ant invasions and this is someone's home.

 

The DP and director said they will be either framing wide in the room looking toward the window (establishing) or there will be action in the middle of the room looking at two characters having an argument with the window in the far background. So I think a few bubbles and imperfections will be fine. I think a scrim would be obvious in the wide shot. Besides, I think we're going to need at least 3 stops. The camera is an F3, so it's not like the Alexa in terms of highlight retention. We also have no big lights to blast through other windows besides shiny boards.

 

I just wanted to check if there is a more professional way to do this given that I've never ND'ed a window for a film project before. From the responses so far it sounds like we're on the right track.

 

Many thanks,

 

Stuart

---------------------------

illuma.blogspot.com

 

I remebmer a YT clip showing this method ..

 

Edited by Diego Treves

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