Textile Light, Sound, Camera, Clapper – aaand Action!
To make a name for yourself in Hollywood you need to look good, be good and have the will to tough it out, three properties that technical textiles clearly also have because they have done it: these little fibres have made it to the very top of the film industry. Take a bow, ‘Carpetlight’, the textile spotlight.
The audience is unaware, but in films like ‘Captain America: Civil War‘, ‘The Afternath‘ and ‘A Cure for Wellness‘ technical textiles are throwing the right light on stars like Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley. The new protagonist here is ‘Carpetlight’, a name taken from ‘One Thousand and One Nights’ for an wide-area LED luminaire. It was developed by the lighting technicians, Till Sadiowski and Gotz Schmidt zur Nedden. They have been working on films sets all over the world for the last 20 years, lighting the path to movie history for stars like Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino in his Second World War film ‘Inglourious Basterds‘.
Spotlights on a set are generally made from aluminium – a few hours of shooting, repositioning them repeatedly, turns these things into hellishly heavy, cumbersome work tools’, says Schmidt zur Nedden, a professional lighting expert. So two years ago he set about developing a lightweight and flexible textile alternative luminaire which meets professional film standards. Not wishing to play spoiler on the patented ‘Carpetlight’ secret, but you can say that the shell is made from tear resistant nylon, on which there is a fabric whose special optical properties increases the size of the illuminated area. Under the fabric is a layer of non-woven material with embroidered silver-coated threads to which are attached passively cooled LEDs, giving the ‘carpet’ its ‘light’.
This textile shooting star is a hit with directors and camera crews across the country. “We are now part of the standard set-up for German film equipment leasing companies and on European film sets – while Hollywood is increasingly knocking on the door”, says Schmidt zur Nedden. One of the those ‘knocking’ is Pawel Edelmann, who worked as cameraman at the side of Roman Polanski shooting a movie like the Oscar winning ‘The Pianist’. ‘Carpetlight’ is the lighting we use the most on set”, says Edelmann. So it is no surprise that the lighting duo Schmidt zur Nedden and Sadlowski, who have taken this fibre-based spotlight from Hamburg into the wider film world, are set on further international success.
Heaven help us if no invitation is forthcoming when the Carpetlight star is unveiled on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, preferably right next to the one of Al Pacino or even De Niro?