How to Make Your Own Scrim

Written by jill carpenter
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How to Make Your Own Scrim
A scrim is attached to the front of a photo or video light. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Capturing that perfect photo or video depends on the amount of light and quality of the light source. A scrim can create a smooth, even light, reduce the hot spot in the centre of a light or dim a light source. For types of lights that cannot be dimmed without affecting their colour temperatures, such as tungsten bulbs, a scrim reduces the intensity of the light source without affecting the light quality, temperature or colour. A scrim is generally made of wire mesh and attached to the front of the light source.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Video or photography light
  • Tape measure or ruler
  • Pencil and paper
  • Aluminium wire mesh used for screen doors and windows
  • Scissors or garden shears
  • Electrical tape at least 3/4 inch wide
  • Clamps suitable for use with hot lights

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Measure the diameter of the light frame. The scrim will clamp onto this edge.

    Do not measure any attachments that extend beyond the circumference of the light frame.

  2. 2

    Purchase enough wire mesh to cover the diameter of your light frame both lengthwise and width-wise. Mesh is usually sold from rolls, and like fabric is cut in yard or half-yard lengths.

  3. 3

    Place your light facedown on the paper. Trace around the outer edge of the light.

  4. 4

    Cut the paper along the line. This will be the pattern for cutting your scrim mesh.

    How to Make Your Own Scrim
    Cut around the paper pattern and through the scrim mesh. (Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)
  5. 5

    Fold a piece of tape into a circle with the sticky side out. Place the tape onto the centre of the paper pattern. Stick the pattern onto the mesh.

  6. 6

    Cut around the pattern and through the mesh. Remove the paper pattern.

  7. 7

    Cut the electrical tape into 1-inch lengths. Make enough short tape strips to more than cover the circumference of the mesh circle for greater safety and durability.

  8. 8

    Place a tape strip lengthwise along the edge of the mesh circle so half is attached. Fold the free half of the tape strip over the mesh edge so the two tape halves meet.

  9. 9

    Work your way around the edge of the scrim until the entire circumference is covered with electrical tape. Each piece of tape can overlap slightly with the tape pieces on either side.

  10. 10

    Clamp the circle of mesh to the light's outer frame.

Tips and warnings

  • Layer one scrim in front of another to further reduce the amount of light.
  • Attach a folded scrim to the bottom half of the light. This will highlight the contents of the brighter, uncovered half of the picture.
  • A diffuser is an alternative solution to create soft, even fill light. Diffusers are generally made of light porous cloth such as muslin or silk, draped over or stretched across a frame. A diffuser goes between the light source and the subject to soften or even out the light.
  • Scrims are often used to dim tungsten stage lights. Newer LED lights often come with built-in dimming capability.
  • Keep flammable material such as cloth or plastic a safe distance from any hot equipment, such as lights or power sources.
  • Use gloves or protective mitts when clamping or removing a scrim from any light source that has been illuminated. It may be hot.
  • Watch out for sharp edges on the wire mesh.
  • Do not use nylon mesh; it may be flammable.

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