Picking the right backdrop for your scene is essential to create the perfect atmosphere and setting the right mood for your project. Rosco’s Academy Award® and Emmy® winning SoftDrop backdrops are a popular choice for filmmakers because of their versatility and practicality in delivering photo-realistic backgrounds. Their non-reflective surface, durability, ease of installation, and cost-effectiveness make them a popular choice for productions of all sizes and budgets.
WHY ROSCO SOFTDROP BACKDROPS
Rosco SoftDrop is a type of backdrop designed to meet the challenges of film, television, and photography productions. Originally launched in 2015, it is made of 100% high-quality, non-reflective cotton and absorbs light, creating a smooth, seamless surface for filming.
Take a look behind-the-scenes of the Academy Award-winning film The Father, starring Anthony Hopkins, and how Rosco SoftDrop benefited the production.
Uncover some of the key benefits of using Rosco SoftDrop in your production below and how it brings the location into the soundstage!
Rosco SoftDrop backdrops are available in a wide range of colors, textures, and sizes, making them a versatile option for both filmmakers and photographers. (The seamless can be produced as large as 39’h x 170’w! Whether you need a solid color backdrop, a textured backdrop, or a custom backdrop, SoftDrop is available in Frontlight, Backlight, and Day/Night Backdrop formats.
WOVEN COTTON FABRIC
SoftDrop has an ultra-matte finish that’s semi-translucent and designed to absorb light and prevent reflections. This means that you can achieve a smooth, seamless look in your shots without worrying about undesirable glare or translight you get on the vinyl of other backdrops.
The SoftDrop is made of a high-quality, flame-retardant material that is environmentally friendly with water-based, non-solvent inks. It is tear-resistant and can be easily cleaned, making it a functional and cost-effective choice for long-term use.
EASY TO INSTALL
Rosco’s SoftDrop is designed for easy installation and removal. It comes folded and packaged in a shipping box without the need for heavy, protective tubes and extra-long freight trucks. The SoftDrop fabric easily unfolds from its packaging and is quick to smooth, especially compared to vinyl.
As a rough example, the build took two students of Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg about three hours, freeing personnel to help in other areas of the production. On a professional set, filmmaker Barry Andersson found the whole process surprisingly “turnkey” and easier than they assumed it would be. And he couldn’t believe how easy it was to take the drops down and pack them up when done.
Rosco SoftDrop makes for an affordable alternative to traditionally painted backdrops because it takes less light to properly illuminate. This also means less time and energy to rig and power the lighting setup.
Rosco provides you with a professional-looking backdrop at a fraction of the cost, making it an ideal choice for productions with limited budgets. That’s one of the primary factors for why Andersson chose Rosco SoftDrop for his promo spot with the Minnesota Timberwolves 2022-2023 season. Andersson and his team selected three nighttime cityscape drops from John Wick 3 to boost the scale of their promo to epic proportions.
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5 ROSCO SOFTDROP LIGHTING TECHNIQUES
By using the right technique, you can create the perfect backdrop for your scene, whether you want to create a daytime and nighttime look, or a textured, color, or backlit effect. We recommend experimenting with different techniques to learn what SoftDrop backdrops can bring to your projects.
A general rule of thumb is to create an even wash of light across the image. It’s best to light the SoftDrop’s highly matte cotton surface from above the drop.
Here are five filmmaking techniques to use with Rosco SoftDrop backdrops.
1. CREATING A DAYTIME LOOK
Create a daytime look with Rosco SoftDrop backdrops by lighting them from the front. Be sure to light the backdrop evenly to create a soft and natural-looking daylight effect. Don’t forget that you can also bounce light instead of direct lighting.
For the science fiction thriller, The Colony, cinematographer Markus Förderer, ASC, BVK, found that “the best result is achieved if the source that is lighting the backing comes in at a steep angle from below or above.” He goes on to say, “Since I wanted to create a hot horizon to give the illusion of depth, it made sense to place our lights in a long row on the floor behind and in front of the backing.”
2. CREATING A NIGHTTIME LOOK
If you want to create a night time look, turn off the front lights and light the SoftDrop from behind.
For backlight night drops, light from the bottom of the backside. This allows the light to fall off toward the top, making the upper part of the frame darker. Not to mention, the camera won’t see hotspots shining through the fabric.
If you’re working with a taller drop, consider using additional lighting from the top at an oblique angle. For example, highlight specific areas of the night with individual lamps behind a desired area.
3. CREATING A BACKLIGHT EFFECT
When creating a backlight effect, Rosco has a few suggestions. For one, they recommend using an oblique wash of light from below for the best results. Due to the slightly open weave of the fabric, Rosco actually advises not to light directly from behind.
On the production of the HBO hit show Station Eleven, the cinematographers shined a fresnel light through the SoftDrop backdrop to serve as an artificial sun. The filmmakers on The Colony also created an artificial sun with an 18K ARRIMAX behind the SoftDrop.
On Fear the Walking Dead, they needed to enhance the feeling of a post-nuclear apocalypse. So, the filmmakers backlit the backdrop with a yellow LED and placed lights underneath (about 10 feet from the backdrop), and pointed upward.
4. CREATING A TEXTURED LOOK
Rosco SoftDrop backdrops are available in a variety of formats, and, luckily, Rosco’s Digital Imaging team is there to perfect the image down to the finest details and textures. These textures can create a natural and organic look. Just choose a textured SoftDrop backdrop that matches the mood and tone of your project.
- Hem, grommets and ties
- Hem, with hidden grommets & ties
- Hem only
- Pipe/chain pocket with pull rope
- Pipe/chain pocket with grommets
- Other finishes available upon request
The RDI team added snow and ice to the Chicago backdrop in Station Eleven, turned autumn into summer in Man Vs Bee, and shifted the Manhattan skyline back to the 1980s in Netflix’s limited series Halston, even subtly adding blur to buildings in the distance.
Similarly, Art Director Laura Ballinger Gardner softened the backdrops of buildings on The Gilded Age on HBO Max. The production design team was inspired by the soft, stylized look of hand-painted backings and wanted their imagery to have the same look and feel. Together with the matte quality of the material, it was an easy choice for Laura.
5. CREATING A COLOR EFFECT
Shifting the color of the SoftDrop backdrop can help produce a specific mood or atmosphere.
Film student Paul Nungeßer notes how one of the advantages of the SoftDrop is that “you can light with it rather than against it” and “it’s like having a massive 60’x20’ butterfly that you can bounce light off of.”
In Nungeßer’s student film, 8’20”, a “cinematic poem” about the time it would take for the exploding sun to reach Earth. As the sun grows close, the SoftDrop grows brighter red.
Returning to Fear the Walking Dead, they created a post-apocalyptic red sky and yellow sky with clouds. The concept was for the red sky to be a result of the initial nuclear impact and for the yellow sky to show the passage of time.
THE RDX LAB SYSTEM
“A unique user experience that brings cutting-edge technology to time-honored filmmaking techniques.”
Rosco has been around since the early days of filmmaking and today launches the technology that will power the productions of tomorrow. In partnership with FuseFX, Rosco Laboratories developed their prototype for the Rosco Digital Experience, RDX LAB™ System.
This new technology is like the LED volume but brings Rosco’s extensive library of cinematic backdrop assets with FuseFX’s virtual production technology.
The RDX LAB System Includes:
- A patent-pending ecosystem of interactive background imagery for virtual production inside an LED volume.
- The world’s most extensive library of background images, created specifically for use in filmmaking.
- Technology developed by renowned VFX experts FuseFX, allowing the images to be directly manipulated on set, becoming “Live Action Backdrops™.”
- Adjustments for image depth, color, contrast, time of day, horizon line, blur, motion, focus, zoom, temperature, parallax, and more.
- A user-friendly app to control the image being used in the LED volume.
For over 100 years, filmmakers relied on Rosco as a leading provider of lighting solutions and backdrop technologies for the film, television, and entertainment industry. Rosco’s innovative products are designed to enhance the visual appeal of productions and have even become industry standards.
Rosco plays a significant role in the development of LED lighting technology, revolutionizing modern lighting techniques. The company’s LED fixtures provide high-quality, energy-efficient lighting solutions that are ideal for film, television, and stage productions.
Through its innovative products and commitment to quality, Rosco has had a significant impact on the film and entertainment industry. Professionals and amateurs alike depend on Rosco and its undeniable influence in capturing the imagination of audiences around the world.
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