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Rick Gates

Set window - Glass or No Glass

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Posted (edited)

I'm building a set for a 1940's era private eye office.  It's for a film noir, which will be delivered in black and white.

I've found a good, older door that I could use.  But I couldn't find any period style windows in the local (Eugene), used building supplies stores.

So I figured, what the heck.  I could make my own window by building a simple wooden grid in a frame.  Behind the window we'll stretch a silk and rear project a 1940s era cityscape.

But my question for all of you is "Should I make it a real window with glass panes?"  It would be much cheaper, faster and lighter to build it without glass.  I know sometimes actors wear prop eyeglasses without lenses, right?  Same idea?

Edited by Rick Gates
Change "frame" to "window"

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None of the windows in at least some of the Star Trek series had glass in them. Once you know that it becomes rather obvious; that, or it's space-age, zero-reflection glass.

The use of backgrounds projected or displayed on video walls has become popular of late; the modern renaissance of it began, perhaps, with Oblivion.


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Also windows may have blinds which negate the need for glass.... and if you not close glass isn't needed.

We didn't use glass on the set build of my grad film:


It saved money as the window frames alone had the potential to be one of the most expensive elements of the set (luckily we are able to blag the frames of another shoot at Pinewood before they were thrown in the skip/trash). IKEA blinds and boom, instant noir cut up lighting. 

 The production designer just hand painted a skyline on a 3 by 4 meter board, that we moved around depending on the shot. It didn't look convincing in real life and every window in every room technically had the same view.


But when lit and out of focus it looked pretty good. And quiet a few people assumed it was a location rather then a set with a painted backdrop.  This was back in EX1 days - so it was a little sharper then I'd like. On larger sensor sensors it would be easier to throw the background out of focus and just make it bright ext blur

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If it's a day interior, then usually the outside is bright enough to hide any reflections of the interior in the glass, if it were a night scene, then internal reflections would be more natural but if there are blinds hanging down, even if cracked open, there wouldn't be much space to see reflections anyway so you might as well leave out the glass.

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