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What’s a Green Bed?

A few weeks ago, I mentioned “green beds” in passing, and Jess commented:

Okay, I’m stumped. What’s a greenbed?

I checked with Hollywood Juicer Michael, and apparently I’ve been using the wrong term for, like, eight years.

“Perms” are the permanent walkways built into the soundstage itself. They’re not really used for production so much, although you’ll often find cable run up there on permanent sets. These are what I meant when I referred to my alma mater’s green beds.

Green beds are, in fact, walkways hung from the perms, around the set. It’s so the grips and electrics can get around easily adjust lights and flags easily, without having to be on the floor. This is especially helpful on a mutli-cam set, where you don’t want to distract the audience while you’re working.

Nowadays, green beds are uncommon. Lights are hung from pipe grids, which are exactly what they sound like. This forces G&E to drive around in a man-lift, raise up to the correct level, adjust the light or flag, drop down, then drive to the next light or flag. It’s tedious and slow.

Green beds are more expensive than pipe grids, but man-hours are the most expensive thing in any production. It seems to me, the shows are being penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Now, why are these walkways called “green beds?” I have no idea. I think they used to be painted green for some reason? Whatever. None of the terms in this business make any damn sense.

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4 Responses

  1. its my guess that: as the Perms were referred to as “the REDS”, to differentiate between the catwalks in the perms and the ones that hung below, they were referred to the GREENS or Green beds,
    or maybe… the New or the Green guys who were afraid of heights and or work would lay down on the beds and hence….
    ah whatever… all I know is they cost a lot and we never seem to put very many lights on them anymore..which is indeed a shame,

  2. From what I understand, green beds are green because back in the day, studios used to store them in the “wilderness” part of the backlot. So they’d paint them green to blend in with trees and bushes and other green nature colored stuff.

    Nowadays, I still see them painted green, but also just regular ol’ wood color, too.

  3. Heyyyy, thanks for the research! Interesting, I haven’t been lucky enough to see one in action yet.

  4. All the green beds I’ve ever seen were in fact painted green — which I assume is how the name came about. I imagine somebody at a studio waaaaay back in the day got a good deal on a truck load of dark green paint (probably from his brother-in-law), and thus was an industry tradition born. Green beds are still used on big features and episodics (for whom time really is money), but not on multi-cam shows anymore. A pity, that.

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