What is scrim fabric?

Written by mary mcnally
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What is scrim fabric?
A scrim is a type of curtain or screen that produces different lighting effects. (Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

Scrim fabric is made of natural materials such as cotton or flax and is most often used as a curtain to design special lighting effects in photography, film, television and theatre. The specific weave of the fabric and the resulting fabric hole size determine which type of scrim is used for which type of lighting effect. Scrims are also used in combination with bounce drops and cycloramas, or back of the stage full concave curtains to project light forward.

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Muslin

A muslin scrim is a lightweight cotton fabric with a loose weave that produces an opaque lighting effect; you can see the outline of an object or person behind the muslin scrim but no other features. It is also manufactured with a looser weave for a translucent effect that shows more definition of the object or person behind the scrim. Tightly woven muslin is also used for bounce drops or cycloramas that line the back of the stage to reflect projected light.

Sharkstooth

A sharkstooth scrim contains holes about the size of those found in a tightly knitted netting. Lighting it from the front at an angle when the scrim's back is dark produces an opaque screen. If the scrim is lit from behind, you can see the scrim in front of a scene. If the front lights are turned off and the back light remains, the scrim disappears. This softens scenery and prevents glare bouncing off from backdrops.

Leno-Filled Scrim

A leno-filled scrim is also made from cotton; however, its holes are smaller that those of a sharkstooth scrim. It makes ideal bounce drops and cycloramas as well where light needs to be reflected from the back of the stage and diffused forward without glare to soften the scenery in front of it to give it a dreamy or surreal, floating appearance.

Bobbinette

Bobbinette, often also spelt as bobinette or bobbinet, has a hexagonal weave with larger holes than traditional theatre scrim. It is often used on film sets where more transparency is needed. This transparency is created when the bobbinette is lit from behind. It also produces more diffuse lighting, resulting in a softer, warmer looking film scene shot. It may come in black, but can be found in other colours as well.

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