Paper Backdrops

A client came up wanting to do a spot for a small clothing line they're working with. They sent over a couple other spots they liked that were shot against multiple solid color backgrounds. We didn't have the budget to paint and re-paint a studio cyc wall, so we went with solid colored paper backdrops.

I've shot a ton of "talking head" projects in client's offices over the years and just recently started using paper backdrops on some projects to try and up the production value vs. looking simply like "Oh hey, this room is big enough and we've got a window on that side."


Talking heads are pretty simple: typically a locked off shot(s) and a person who's usually sitting down. For this shoot though the client wanted a mix of footage from close ups to full body shots and the on-camera talent would be moving around.

We had the budget to rent out a studio space here in the Oklahoma City area - Producer's Playhouse. The large space gave us the room needed to roll out enough paper as well as the space for the larger lighting footprint and power needs. The goal was to keep the shadows super soft so for the key we made a book light using one of the studio's 5k fixtures bounced into a 6x6 ultrabounce and through a 6x6 silk. For the backlight we pushed a 4' Fourbank Kinoflo through a 48" diffusion frame. The larger light source gave the talent plenty of room to move around and the lighting stay pretty consistent. We also used a large black solid opposite the key and a double net at times to help sculp the lighting. We shot another look the first half of the day using the studio's large white cyc wall, but we can talk about that some other time. Sidenote – my life is forever changed after using wheeled combo stands for the first time. Those things are magic.

We used Savage Seamless Paper rolls that were 107” wide and the clint picked out four different colors: blue, yellow, pink, and red. The spot's final delivery would be 16x9 so with the wide roll of paper the close up and medium shots weren't really an issue. The full body shots though would need a bit of work in post. They'd need to extend the edges of the paper or a handful of other options depending on the edit. As long as the on-camera talent didn't go past the edge of the paper they'd be fine.

In the end we were pretty happy with the footage. The client didn't want to deal with a ton of post-work so we shot the full sensor 4k ProRes on my RED Weapon and baked in the the RedGamma 4 / Dragon Color 2 look. You're a bit limited with the framerates with 4k ProRes on the RED Weapon, but we were able to get what we needed vs. the client dealing with the much larger raw 8k .R3D files.