A weblog about theatrical drapery and stage curtains for Production Managers, Set Designers, Custom Drapery Resellers, and local/school/church Productions
Picture this. The audience has filed into the theatre or arena, excitedly waiting for the show to start. They look at the stage and see only a backdrop. Their curiosity builds – what is behind that backdrop? Suddenly, the lights dim, the music builds and BAM! The backdrop suddenly disappears to reveal the band behind.
What is this piece of stage magic? It’s a Kabuki – a combination of an easy-to-install kabuki solenoid system and a kabuki backdrop. Solenoid heads are attached to a truss, connected together with cables, and then connected to a controller. The backdrop is then hung from the solenoid heads via removable D-rings attached to the top of the backdrop with Velcro. When it is time to reveal the band, the solenoids are “fired,” which releases the D-rings so that the backdrop quickly drops to the stage floor.
The sky’s the limit for the backdrop – perhaps a custom digitally printed scenic backdrop, or a simple black rental backdrop, or even a white poly silk backdrop that tantalizes the audience with a shadow effect (as shown above) – and with the availability of rental solenoid systems, a kabuki is a gag that works for nearly any tour design.
Traditionally, tour lighting designers who wanted to project a lighting design have chosen a projection screen or a fabric backdrop. But what if you are looking for something a little different, something that adds texture to the mix and really highlights your talent as a lighting designer?
A Metal Mesh Backdrop is a dynamic option that can take your design to the next level. Made of a silver/grey flexible aluminum mesh, the backdrops have an organic crushed appearance that enhances projected lights. Consider using them on their own, or in conjunction with a projection screen or fabric backdrop for a variety of textures.
Want to see more photos of Metal Mesh Backdrops in action? Check out our set on Flickr.
You could buy a dozen different scenic backdrops, but who wants to move a bunch of backdrops around from venue to venue, or to have to swap out backdrops constantly throughout the show? Why not choose a solid fabric backdrop and create the myriad of looks by projecting colored lights onto it?
Recently, The Black Crowes chose a rented White Poly Muslin Backdrop as the primary focus of the set design for their Fall 2013 tour. Sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? But with the addition of a brilliant projected lighting design, the end result was anything but simple. In a word – spectacular!
To all you production designers and tour managers out there – if you have worked in the industry for any time at all, you know that the trends for scenic backdrops have changed over the years. For a long time, it seemed as if the only option was to choose a hand-painted backdrop. Then along came grand format digitally printing, and the options suddenly expanded greatly. Well, you may not be aware of it, but there is yet another scenic backdrop option out there - appliqued backdrops.
An appliqued backdrop may consist of one fabric sewn onto a fabric backdrop (such as above, in which a reflective fabric in two colors – gold and silver – was sewn onto a Black 22oz Encore backdrop) or may include several different elements, including digitally printed elements, fabric in various colors, and trim. The applique may even be padded to add dimension and texture.
So, when you are considering the design of the scenic backdrop for your upcoming tour, consider making appliqued elements just one more tool in your design arsenal!
If you are a tour manager for an artist or band, we understand that you have a ton of tasks on your plate. You are coordinating everything from the hard and soft goods for the set design to the staging companies to the travel schedule. Sometimes it feels as if there just isn’t enough time in the day to take care of everything. I thought I’d help out by passing on a little information on flame retardancy for stage drapery. With this information upfront, hopefully it will mean less for you to worry about.
- Request 12” x 12” burn samples of the fabric(s) used for your newly purchased and rented stage drapes and other soft goods. Even with a Certificate of Flame Retardancy, a Fire Marshal at a venue may ask for a burn sample in order to do a field test onsite.
- Request the appropriate Certificate(s) of Flame Retardancy based on the tour schedule. Flame retardancy requirements vary state to state (and even city to city), and so letting your soft goods supplier know upfront where the tour is headed will help ensure that you have all the necessary certification.
- If a tour is headed to Boston, complete a Boston Fire Department Use Application and send it to Boston Fire Department, along with a 12” x 12” burn sample of each drapery fabric. This is typically required two to four weeks in advance of the Boston show.
- If your soft goods are more than a year old, have the drapery tested and re-certified by a certified flame retardancy company before the new tour begins. Some local Fire Marshals may be satisfied with doing a field burn test but others may not pass a drape for use at a show if the certificate is more than one year old.
- Don’t try to figure it out all on your own - ask questions! If you are unsure or unclear about any flame retardancy issue related to your new or existing soft goods, talk to your drapery supplier! They are the experts in the subject and can help you navigate this often complex subject.
We understand that, as a production designer for a church, synagogue, or other house of worship, your goal is to design a set for your holiday worship services that is both visually exciting and religiously relevant. Why not take a cue from the world of music touring production designers and make a digitally printed backdrop the centerpiece of your design?
With today’s grand format digital printers and 10 foot wide fabric substrates such as Heavy Knit, Cotton Canvas, and Artist Light, your options for a scenic backdrop are nearly limitless. Any image in digital format can be printed onto fabric and sewn into a beautiful custom backdrop at the dimensions required for your stage.
You may be saying to yourself, “Where do I find the right image for a digital backdrop?” Not to worry. If you (or an artist friend) aren’t able to create your own digital image, there are many photo websites, such as iStock by Getty Images, offering thousands of royalty-free images to choose from, many with religious imagery, at an very affordable price.
As you finalize the set design for the next tour, are you confused as to what digital substrate would work best for your scenic backdrop needs? Not to worry. There are a variety of substrates available for direct printing on a wide format digital printer, so there is sure to be one that is right for you.
Tour playing at indoor venues, from small theatres to large indoor arenas? A fabric substrate is usually the best option, with choices ranging from Heavy Knit and Cotton Canvas (great options for front lighting) to Artist Light (great for back lighting).
Tour playing at outdoor arenas and festivals? Consider a Vinyl Mesh or Matte Vinyl substrate for greater durability and rain resistance. Worried about wind? Vinyl Mesh is the substrate for you as it allows blow-through.
Have a concern about another soft goods element? Want some ideas for just the right style of custom stage curtains to fit your vision? We’d love to hear from you in the Comments section.
Picture this. You are promoting your product at a trade show. You have pipe and base hardware, but basic colored drapes just don’t make a statement. The answer? Custom digitally printed backdrops that attach to the pipe and base and make your booth stand out from the crowd.
By printing your logo, tag line, or even a photo of your product onto a fabric substrate designed for digital printing, such as Heavy Knit, you have unlimited possibilities in customizing your booth. This 10 foot wide fabric allows for a seamless look for the standard 10′ x 10′ booth, and seamed options are available for larger booths.
You can choose a single larger backdrop for the back wall (such as shown above), or add additional side wall pieces (as shown below). Either way, the pieces can be hung on standard pipe and base hardware via a top pipe pocket, with grommets and ties used on the sides for a snug fit.
As the new year approaches, it’s a great time to begin designing a new look for your trade show booths for the 2014 show season! Why not make digitally printed backdrops part of that design?
Are you a production designer who wants to make your next concert tour, theatrical show, convention, or religious production as spectacular as possible? Why not consider adding a gorgeous custom digitally printed backdrop? Sew What? was recently showcased in the “Trends of 2014” December 2013 issue of Entrepreneur Magazine as the “go to company” for beautiful, one-of-a-kind, and completely dramatic digitally printed backdrops for all types of shows, events and concerts.
Your backdrop will be sure to grab the attention of everyone in the venue! Not ready to commit to a uniquely designed custom backdrop? Rental options of solid fabric backdrops, scrims and LED Stardrops are also available.
Looking to promote your product in a way that makes people stop and look? Consider using a custom digitally printed backdrop. Want to include your company’s logo, a tag phrase, or a photo of the product? It’s as simple as having your graphic artist create a digital artwork file which can then be printed on a wide format digital printer. Want to use a digital backdrop on your trade show booth or on the stage at a launch party? Your digital image can be scaled to make nearly any size backdrop.
One of the most popular choices of digital substrates is Heavy Knit, a 10 foot wide 100% polyester fabric specifically designed for direct printing. Heavy Knit offers excellent wrinkle resistance and is ideal for images that include bright colors.
Want to see more examples of digitally printed backdrops? Check out our Digital Printing Portfolio on our website or visit us on Flickr.
Older Profiles »