Sprayed Designs for Hessian Banners

The Journey live event

We recently had a special little event in my lounge.

We’d been planning for a couple of years to do something that mixed music with video, and late 2015 we finally got proper plans together to do this as a live event. We invited about 40 people over (plus crew) and on 19th March recorded a three and a half hour event featuring stories and songs, together making an autobiographical lounge gig-ish thing. We’re calling it ‘The Journey’.

I’ll write another post about the whole thing once we’ve published a few of the songs for you, but this post is about the decor.

Problem Solving

Every design decision should solve a problem and I had two problems to solve: sound reflections and aesthetics.

As we were recording with speakers in the room we needed to minimise the sound reflecting off floors and walls back into microphones. We fixed the floor issue by putting rugs on the floor and closing the curtains helped a bit, but needed something extra.

sound-barriers

An early idea for sound barriers: rolls of foam stapled to mobile frames

Early on I’d planned to create some freestanding foam sound barriers, but in the end the hassle of making them all and the visual appeal of hessian changed my mind. I know hessian isn’t the softest, most absorbent material, but hopefully it made some difference stretched from floor to ceiling.

Aesthetically speaking, we had a few pictures up on the walls that we didn’t want to draw attention away from what was going on in the room, but taking them down left big blank walls. I’m a fan of well placed space in a scene, but this blankness would have looked odd in that context.

The room is split into three sections by pillars at the walls with beams along the ceiling, so I opted to fill in the outer two-thirds with wall hanging banners, stapled to frames. A simple, interesting but not too obtrusive design seemed appropriate.

The Design

I wanted a pattern with interesting variation that would be easy to apply. Inspired by the angular lines of this wallpaper (much like the Beijing National Stadium) I decided to go for a similar effect. Initially I wanted the lines on all the banners to line up but in the end this was more faff than it was worth.

Kit

20m of high quality hessian cut into eight 2.5m strips
Two rolls of 50mm masking tape
Two 400ml cans of satin wine red spray, to match the curtains
Lengths of lath, screws, tape, drill, saw, mugs of tea…

Method

One of the banners

After spraying up the first few banners I refined my method. I’d start with a few longer bold, angular lines of tape, then fill in with smaller lines, occasionally stopping them when they met the first pieces of tape at various places. I’d then spray the whole thing with heavier spray nearer the top of the banner (holding the can closer and using slightly slower motions), lessening the spray as I went further down the banner.

Then I’d peel off a few of the shorter lines of tape I added last and respray touches near the points they’d crossed over the tape that remained. This created depth as it added shadows around some of the lines, giving a bit of “pop”.

It was surprisingly easy.

The frame for holding the banners

One of the frames. Wasn’t as wobbly as it looks, that’s just funny pano stitching software.

As I needed to dismantle the whole thing after the event I didn’t want to screw the frame into the wall or damage the paintwork, so it took a bit of work making the frames wedge into the gaps well enough to hold themselves in place.

Sprayed hessian banners on the wall

The last job was to simply staple the banners to the frame.

Panorama view of the room during setup

The final look during setup, with the hanging banners lit by some bright diffused lamps

All in all I think the event was a hit. It just goes to show it’s quite easy to make attractive decor for filming at low cost.

You can expect to see videos of the songs and stories being released gradually over the coming months on our YouTube channel. If you’d like to see them as they’re released click here to subscribe to the channel.