Can I Print on Scrim? Or is Painting the best option?
An almost forgotten use of scrim is as a painted drop. You will hear of painting on Leno (filled scrim) but seldom will you see painted scrims otherwise. Filled scrim is a great painting surface, travels very well and can glow when hit from behind. But a Leno scrim can’t be used for the other uses of scrim. You can’t reveal an actor or objects behind a Leno scrim.
A few theater shows call for a painted scrim, notably 42nd Street, Into the Woods, and 1776. Others can use a painted scrim like Oklahoma, Sound of Music, South Pacific, Wizard of OZ and Les Miserables. For these shows a painted scrim can produce special effects on a painted drop background. For example: The tornado hitting Kansas in the Wizard of OZ can be a shadow projection of the twirling twister on the painted Kansas scrim. A sun can rise and set on outdoor settings, allowing one painted drop to be a morning or noon or evening setting (a dedicated tight light source for the sun, with two open wide source lights at low percentage for general illumination is advised).
Typically for most budgets painted scrims are too expensive both in time and materials. Since Shark’s Tooth scrim must be used full stage width and is expensive, few organizations can sacrifice the scrim for one production. Shark’s Tooth is delicate, can snag and is hard to repair, so very few theatre groups paint a scrim then rent it. Chameleon™ scrim solves that obstacle. Chameleon™ can be used partial stage width and is considerably less expensive. It is a good painting surface and is more durable in many ways than sharks tooth scrim. Chameleon™ also can be used for concealed/secret entrances (you can hang it in offset panels without a heavy side seam, hourglassing, or moiré effect). Chameleon™ has some limitations of its own. Chameleon™ scrim has a size limitation in one direction. So a 16’ high scrim can be seamless to 45’ or even more, but a 17’ x 20’ scrim has a seam. Like all synthetic fabrics Chameleon™ can melt if exposed to high heat. On balance this scrim brings painting within a price range that is affordable on a show budget—as opposed to a capital budget.
Printing scrims can be a quick and easy way to add interest to a design. Either as signage or graphics, a printed Chameleon™ scrim is large, hangs square and has an interesting rice-paper translucent look. Chameleon™ scrim banners can be cut, hung as walls, bent around corners, hung as huge pillars or ‘wave walls’. They can also be used with several lighting effect—for example even a printed scrim can reveal people or props placed behind it with a lighting shift. Scrims can be shadow screens, or have projections superimposed on them.
These scrims are 90+ sound transmissible making them useful in architectural applications, or as grill covers or speaker surfaces.
Not only is painting scrim affordable but printing on scrim is affordable. Printing is also really easy. The basic keys to ordering a printed scrim panel include allowing time (about 3 weeks from receipt of artwork and payment method) and providing artwork. Artwork is 1:12 scale at 300 dpi. So if you want a 15 foot by 20 foot printed scrim, then you provide a 15 inch by 20 inch picture at 300dpi in any picture format.
At pricing of the date 6/28/08, the cost of a 15’ x 20’ printed scrim breaks down as $300 for the finished scrim with grommets and ties and a pipe pocket, plus $53.10 for Flame retardant treatment, plus $450 for the printing. So ignoring the shipment charges, the cost is $ 803.10. (Call to check current pricing).
What if the scrim is larger than the image? If the image is smaller than the scrim cost MAY be lower for printing. There are a few factors effecting this including background color of the scrim.
So is it better to have a scrim painted or printed? If you are in rush and your artists are at the center of the time crush, consider printing. Painting may be better if you want a more spontaneous feel, or don’t have the budget but have artist with time. Painting can be less consistently translucent too (if you paint the scrim, you must dilute the paint so as not to fill the holes with paint, so dilution must remain consistent to preserve translucency.