White plastic sheeting, suitable for rear-projection, in or around Toronto
October 14, 2009 8:07 PM   Subscribe

I'm doing a show in Toronto involving rear-projection (both of plain white light with a person creating a shadow, and of video). I'm trying to locally source thin, white plastic sheeting to use for a large screen, by this week or next week.

For a tactile reference, think of the slippery, slightly stretchy plastic used in layers as tablecloths at some Chinese restaurants. Or white Glad kitchen catchers.

I would love to buy a roll of something, at least 8 ft x 40 ft and preferably longer (so I have 'spares').

This is in the very near future, and I would prefer to buy something locally in Toronto or the GTA rather than online. Budget is minimal and definitely under a hundred bucks.

So far: I've found the tablecloths, but they don't come on a roll, so I'd have to stitch or melt them together. Fraught. I've found giant white tarps, which are an okay backup but are staggeringly unsexy. I've found vapour barrier, which is almost perfect, except I've only found it in 'clear'. I've found white plastic banquet tablecloths on rolls, but only online; they're only 40" wide which is also less than ideal.

I prefer plastic to paper because it needs to setup and strike quietly, and because there are more possibilities for tactile interaction (like stretching and deforming), but I'd use paper as a backup. Know any good, cheap, nonwovens?

The most useful information would be local fabricators or dealers that stock similar stuff. Laird Plastics and Plasticworld focus on rigid plastics rather than rolled sheeting.

Summary: looking for a) ideas for off-the-shelf materials that might work for this, and b) ideas for where to go to get them. Thanks in advance.
posted by sixswitch to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
Thing I forgot: some translucency in the material is okay (as opposed to an 'opaque'/can't-see-through-it-at-all RP screen).
posted by sixswitch at 8:09 PM on October 14, 2009

I think I've seen rolls of such stuff at home depot. I don't think you'd be able to buy the roll, but you could buy it by the metre.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:19 PM on October 14, 2009

Just a thought, Canadian Tire / Home Depot have some cheap large plastic drop-cloths in the painting section. You may be able to use spray or roll-on white paint on the backside if you've got someplace to lay it out flat. No idea how well it would work, but thought I'd throw it out there.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 8:23 PM on October 14, 2009

I've used a material very similar to butchers' paper. A very thick paper, opaque at a distance but lets a lot of light through. I was playing with a large roll of it recently (bought it at an art supply store).

Works extremely well in dark rooms if you're rear-projecting onto it. The image is as clear as it would be projecting onto a proper screen.
posted by doctor.dan at 3:16 AM on October 15, 2009

I immediately thought of marine storage shrink wrap film. Comes in many widths and lengths. There are a few different types of film available on that site.

You'll want to check to make sure the stuff is translucent enough for your needs.

This place could likely sell you a roll. Here is another guy who does the shrink wrapping, might be willing to sell you some chunks as well. These are just random google searches, I'm not vouching for the businesses themselves.
posted by davey_darling at 8:29 PM on October 15, 2009

Thanks everybody! I ended up coldcalling a bunch of plastics companies and found TGS Plastics, who sold me a couple-ten rolls of polyethylene "painters' dropcloth" plastic, which at five feet by twenty-four was just about perfect. I had to use two rolls vertically to get the height. Definitely some hotspots when rear-projecting but it was exactly what I was looking for.

In case anyone's interested in how it looked, here's the resulting video.
posted by sixswitch at 9:32 AM on November 20, 2009

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