Flats are large rectangles of lightweight foam core. Theater set designers use them to create background scenery. Their lightweight design makes them easy to move around sets to be used as backgrounds, flagging light and as reflectors. Hinging two flats together—creating a letter V—creates what is know as a V-flat. Here’s how to construct your own V-flat.
Different Size V-Flats
You can build any size V-flat to meet your needs. A product photographer may not need an eight foot tall V-flat as much as a portrait photographer would. Building a smaller 24-by-36 inch V-flat that can easily be placed on a table is more practical. A portrait photographer may use the same size as a reflector to bounce light.
If you plan on building a large 4-by-8 foot V-flat, use a 2-inch thick board with 3-inch wide gaffer tape. Smaller sizes can get away with 3/16-inch boards and 2-inch wide gaffer tape. Match the color of the foam core to the gaffer tape.
Constructing the V-Flat
Experiment on a smaller size V-flat before you tackle a larger flat. This will save time, money and frustration.
Step 1: Place two boards on top of each other, NOT side by side
Placing the boards side by side will not give enough space for the flats to fold. Place the flats on top of each other. Use an A-Clamp to hold larger boards in place.
Step 2: Apply gaffer tape
Line up the tape so it’s even on both sides when folded over. On larger boards, run the tape over the top then fold down. Cut off excess tape.
Step 3: Apply gaffer tape to the second side
Turn the flats over and apply tape to the second side. If the gaffer tape isn’t wide enough, apply a second row.
Step 4: Apply gaffer tape to the Inside
Unfold the flat and apply tape to the inside. Make sure it wraps around the top.
You now have one of the most versatile tools a studio can have!
Currently he is teaching workshops, writing for Photofocus and creating tutorials for various plug-in companies and for the Vanelli and Friends series.
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