space required for backdrop roller?

Started 3 months ago | Questions thread
Ed Shapiro
Ed Shapiro Regular Member • Posts: 305
Re: space required for backdrop roller?

You haven't mentioned what kind of photograhy you intend doing in you allotted space- portraits, headshots, groups, still life, products? You may end up with space shortages dependg on what you will be shooting, how you are going to light your subjects, and the physical space required for a motorized background system.

The two most popular seamless paper sizes (for portraits)  are 53" wide (about 4ft) & 107" wide (about 9ft). The first is recommend for headshots, while the second is recommended for full-body portraits and groups.  You can get away with a smaller size for small objects. There are, however, some important caveats.

An important consideration is having enough clearance on either side of the background to place lights at various angles and distances from the subject(s).  A main or accent light might need to be placed anywhere from zero to 135 degrees to the camera/subject axis and far enough away so as not to enter the camera's angle of view.

Paper, canvas, and many other background materials are heavy, especially if you have multiple roles in place. The motors on a motorized background are heavy l as they must-have enough torque and moderate speed to move heavy materials.  The 4 motor units on my system extend about another 12 inches beyond the brackets.  The collective weight of the backgrounds, motors,

brackets, and rollers is significant and requires heavy-duty mounting hardware. You may have to reinforce the ceiling with plywood to better distribute the weight of the rig.  Multiple heavy-duty toggle bolts may be required. On my rig, I used lag bolts screwed directly into the joists.

This is not meant to discourage you, however, the installation has to be done properly to provide proper alignment of the brackets, smooth operation, and safety so you don't want to go through all the preparations and steps to secure it in place only to find that you have sufficient space for your lights, enough backup space to shoot with a focal length of your choice, have a reasonable distance between the background and the subject, and accommodate the size and type of your subjects.

When you plan the additional space for light placement consider the leg-spread of light stands, the clearance needed for a boom stand (if an overhead or hair light is required), and if you want to create a cyclorama background, consider space for 2 background lights placed 45 degrees to the cove and background.

I hope this helps.

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--Ed Shapiro- Commercial and Portrait Photographer. Ottawa, Ontario Canada

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