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Photoflex Pro Duty Backdrop Support Kit

New support kit for video and still image backdrops By Stephen Schleicher

The Photoflex Pro Duty Backdrop Support Kit allows still photographers and video production professionals to quickly set up a professional background for interviews, product shots, or green screen work.  Does it "hold up" under pressure?  Digital Media Net's Stephen Schleicher tested the unit out and has this report.

The worst part about going into an interview situation, is arriving in finding out you only have a white wall to shoot against, or an empty soundstage with nothing to act as a backdrop for your subject.  When doing an interview or shooting a portrait, you don't need a lot of space, but you need something that is pleasing to the eye.  This is where the Photoflex Pro Duty Support Kit comes in.

The support kit consists of two Photoflex LiteStands that extend to 12 feet high, more than enough for any standing or sitting shot.  Even if you are shooting from a low angle, there's very little chance that you will shoot off the top of your backdrop. The stands are light weight, very sturdy, and strong -- supporting loads up to 40 pounds.  They can easily accommodate sandbags on the legs for greater stability if needed.  The crossbar extends to 13 feet, and has notches to slip on to the brass posts atop the LiteStand.  This bar is also very light weight and will collapse down to approximately 4 feet for easy storage.  Both stands and the pole fit nicely into a carrying case for easy transportation to and from your location.

Even though the kit sets up in mere minutes (about five by my watch) this is really a two-person job.  You really need one person on each stand during the extension process to keep everything from getting jammed up.  Once it is up, the legs provide a large enough support base to keep the stands from tipping over, even with material hanging from it.  I was able to put a fair amount of weight and pressure onto the poles with out causing the entire unit to come crashing down.

The Photoflex Pro Duty Backdrop Support Kit does not come with a fabric backdrop, but fortunately Photoflex sells these too.  Depending on your needs, there are two different types of backdrops available for you.  The first backdrop is 10' x 12', and is useful for the portrait or interview situation.  The second backdrop measures 10' x 20', and is perfect when you need to do a full body shot or an infinity wall.  Each of the fabric backdrops has a double stitched sewn channel on each end that the backdrop pole slides into for super fast set up.

There are many fabric styles to choose from, the one I used for my tests was the chroma key green 10 x 20 foot backdrop.  The fabric is very light, and reminded me of a bedsheet -- although I'm not sure the thread count is high enough to put on your bed.  Because of the light weight it folds into a small compact size that makes for easy portability.  I was a little concerned that the width of the fabric (10 feet) would not be enough for medium or wide shots.  For most simple special effects shots, 10 feet is more than enough.  If you worry about shooting off the edge of the fabric that's fine as you can mask out in post.  The fabric does tend to wrinkle, but if lit evenly, you will not have any problems.  Photoflex also offers a chromakey blue fabric if you prefer to go that route.

If you're not doing special effects, but instead need to shoot an interview, then one of the marble backdrops will probably be right up your alley.  I am partial to the blue marble and the brown marble and am in the process of purchasing the gray marble backdrop to shoot a series of intros for a training video.  Because of its neutrality, the gray marble can instantly be changed to a different color with a gel or two.  The only issue I have with the backdrops is their price -- they can run into the $200 range.  A keen shopper can find the backdrops for about $150 apiece, while the backdrop kit can be found for round $200.  I was also concerned about the durability of the material, but Photoflex does provide a one-year warranty on the backdrops in case of rips or tears.

I found this kit very versatile; one day I was shooting a green screen shot of talent for a news open, another day I used the kit for an interview, and yet another day I was able to quickly set up the kit for product shot.  Still photographers and video professionals who need a quick and easy background will find the Photoflex Pro Duty Backdrop Support Kit
a go to piece of equipment for their shoots.

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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (, where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleā??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnā??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at [email protected]

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