Want a unique look for your touring dance performance? Why not consider combining the construction of a traditional theatrical drape with a non-traditional material – clear vinyl? This sparkling combination evokes the feeling of a beautiful wall of icicles, a gorgeous backdrop to the dancers.
This clear vinyl drape was custom-made for the skating extravaganza “ICE Direct from Russia” in the Versailles Showroom at the Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
More typically used in tent construction, flame retardant clear vinyl takes on a breathtaking appearance under theatrical lighting. Constructed in a traditional theatre style, with 50% fullness and webbing, grommets and ties on top, an “icicle” drape can be hung and used just like any other traditional theatre drape – but with a decidedly “non-traditional” look.
The same clear vinyl drape takes on an even more dramatic appearance under blue stage lighting.
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!
Are you producing your church’s nativity play? Are you struggling with finding just the right element to create a set design that compliments the mystery and majesty of the story of the birth of the baby Jesus? Using an LED Stardrop to create a starry night backdrop may be just what you are looking for.
An LED Stardrop is a stage backdrop made of black fabric into which bluish-white or colored LED lights have been inserted in a pattern that replicates stars in the sky. It’s so easy to use, you’ll be amazed!
Custom LED Stardrops can be built to fit any size of stage and are versatile enough to be used over and over again throughout the year for worship services, Easter programs, choir performances, and much more.
Not ready to purchase a custom LED Stardrop? Rental options are also available.
Are you producing this year’s holiday program for your church or other house of worship? We would love to hear about the interesting and innovative design options you have come up with for the set design.
Back in late August, we made a gorgeous custom backdrop for Panic! at the Disco. We all knew it looked beautiful in our sewing shop, but after looking at the amazing concert photos of Panic at the Disco that that our graphics coordinator Andrea Rennard found on Flickr and built a Gallery around, I knew I had to post on the project.
The process started with an apparently simple brief – make a black backdrop that prominently displayed the band’s logo in a reflective material. Sew What Senior Sales and Creative Director Shane Nelsen dove in head first. The solution to the underlying black backdrop was readily apparent – IFR Black 22oz Encore. Selecting the best applique material was a little more challenging, but Shane was up to the task, working with our purchasing agent Greg Bowles to come up with a variety of samples of reflective materials for production to choose from. The final choice? A pearlescent mylar cloth that looked beautiful as-is while also taking on colored lighting like a dream.
Our sewing shop began the project with building the flat black 24′ h x 40′ w backdrop. Then, our graphics coordinator Andrea Rennard utilized the band’s logo file to print a vinyl pattern of the 17′ h x 23′ w logo on our grand format digital printer. This vinyl pattern was used by our sewing shop staff to cut out the appliqué from the pearlescent mylar. Then came the painstaking work of carefully sewing the appliqué onto the backdrop. Sounds easy, but as the logo is nearly all curves, meticulous sewing was required to minimize shirring and puckering of the fabric.
The final project turned out to be gorgeous, as I’m sure you will agree after seeing these amazing photographs taken by Marion Mirou-Sirot at the band’s concert in Toronto in September.
Recently we did a cool project for the Zac Brown Band. It started out as a fairly traditional (though large) 50′ h x 50′ w custom backdrop of Natural Heavy Weight Muslin. When the scenic painter got a hold of it, however, it became truly special.
Utilizing special UV paints and artwork provided by the client, the scenic painter meticulously recreated a painted rendering of the band’s cover art from their latest album, “Uncaged“, which features a “Day of the Dead” figure. Without lighting, the backdrop appears to be blank – but add the right lighting and the images dramatically appear.
What’s more, the backdrop is sewn as a kabuki, so after appearing to great effect, the sudden drop to the floor as the solenoids are released adds yet another level of drama to the show.
It truly is a fabulous backdrop – but don’t take my word for it, see for yourself…
We here at Rent What? are thrilled to have been a part of a recent showcase put on by The Denver Gay Men’s Chorus in Denver, Colorado, called Rocket Man: The Music of Elton John. With a virtually sold out crowd, Scott Scoffa and the folks at Rocky Mountain Arts Association presented this amazing show which took place at Gates Hall at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts on the Denver University Campus. This show had everything—captivating music and singing, beautiful lighting, dramatic costumes, and of course it was all topped off with two of our gorgeous rental Silver Mylar Rain Curtains as the perfect backdrop for this unique and dazzling show.
Photo Courtesy Jeff Reinhard
From our Oh So Swanky! Drapery Collection, these Mylar Rain Curtains are very lightweight and easy to install, as well as extremely versatile for use in many occasions. You can completely change the atmosphere of your show with a splash of some colorful lighting. Or try adding some drapes from one of our other drapery rental collections, like an Aluminum Mesh Drape from our Industrial Textures Collection or a Silver Satin Swag from our Silver Satin Collection, to really get a truly fresh look for your special event. We were so happy that our Mylar Rain Curtains worked out so perfectly for our clients at the Rocky Mountain Arts Association, and we can’t wait to see what stage design they come up with for their next big performance!
We love it when our clients come up with unique and creative ways to use what would normally be just an “ordinary backdrop”. Recently a very imaginative client of ours used one of our white poly muslin backdrops for a very special event indeed, and we could not have been more impressed with how everything turned out! Oregon’s premier lighting and audio visual company Hollywood Lights was involved with creating a beautiful yet functional stage for an extremely special guest to the Portland area, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He would be participating in an environmental summit and discussions about compassion at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon, so Kerrigan O’Neill and the entire team at Hollywood Lights needed to be able to design staging that would allow for both panel discussions and keynote addresses in the morning and early afternoon, and then be immediately followed by a huge rock concert with the Red Hot Chili Peppers that very same day. How they would be able to have everything already set up for the concert, while not distracting from the panel discussions and speeches happening concurrently on the same stage, was something that O’Neill and his team at Hollywood Lights had already ingeniously figured out.
Photo Courtesy Lindsey Rickert
Utilizing our theatrical rental 30’h x 40’w White Poly Muslin Backdrop as their main showpiece, O’Neill and his team were able to create a more intimate space for the discussions happening earlier in the day near the front of the stage, and by lighting it differently for each guest, they were able to help define the mood and feel for each dialogue that occurred. Having the entire back end of the stage essentially “hidden” from the crowd also enabled the band’s crew to have all of their staging, instruments, and gear set up and ready to go at a moment’s notice. They wanted the enraptured audience be able to focus as much attention on The Dalai Lama as possible, without having any distracting sights or sounds from the back end of the stage interrupt His Holiness’s important discussions.
Photo Courtesy Lindsey Rickert
O’Neill’s team then used one of our dependable and easy-to-install 10-head V2 Solenoid Systems to drop our white poly muslin drape at the push of a single button, enabling the RHCP to begin their performance right away. This was an extremely important feature, so they wouldn’t have to make the audience wait around for the hour+ it would have taken to do a typical change-over. Photographer Lindsey Rickert captured all of the significant moments from the day; everything from all of the special guests that participated in the discussions with the Dalai Lama, to the incredible rock concert immediately following. We were so delighted and impressed with how well everything came together, and were thrilled that our theatrical rental drape and solenoid system were a part of such a meaningful and successful event.
Back in late March, we were excited to get a call from Baz Halpin, with Silent House Productions. He had designed an amazing set for the Black Sabbath tour (an historic tour as it was the first tour with Ozzy Osbourne in more than thirty years), and he wanted our help in translating his innovative design into reality.
After receiving Baz’s initial designs, Shane Nelsen, Sew What? Creative Director and Senior Sales, met with Baz and his team at the Silent House office to further review Baz’s design and vision for the backdrop. This meeting gave Shane the opportunity to hear more about the look Baz was going for and suggest materials and sewing methods that would take the design to reality.
During this collaboration, a design was approved utilizing FR Black 16oz Commando Cloth, FR Black Sharkstooth Scrim, and Silver Metal Mesh. At that point, our sewing shop went into action, first manufacturing a custom flat black backdrop in Commando Cloth at 41′ 6″ h x 60′ w (split into three sections attached by velcro). From that initial simple drape, our team of sewing staff began the transformation from basic to extraordinary by first judiciously cutting out sections, then inserting Sharkstooth Scrim behind the cutouts, crinkling and “distressing” the aluminum mesh, and then finally appliqueing the aluminum mesh in strategically placed locations.
Sew What? manufacturing staff Roberto and Antonio, pinning mounds of aluminum mesh onto the backdrop.
On several occasions throughout the manufacturing process, members of Baz’s team came out to our shop to review the work and collobarate with Shane to tweak the design to achieve the desired ultimate “heavy metal” look.
Sew What? sewing machine operator Alberto sewing mesh to the backdrop
The final backdrop looked amazing in our shop, but the final touch was added by Silent House who, after receiving the backdrop from us, hung LED walls behind the scrim sections, allowing video images of the concert to be seen within the backdrop itself. We were awestruck this morning to see a video of it live on stage in Auckland, New Zealand. Take a look, and I think you will be awestruck as well!
Something to think about when designing your stage is the fact that all surfaces are an opportunity to make a visual graphic statement and create atmosphere. Case and point – I recently worked on a couple of stages that took advantage of the stage floor to complete the visual graphic package. The more recent one was for Nickelback. Working with the stage designer, we illustrated his vision so that the floor surface worked seamlessly with the custom CNC cut drum and guitar risers, the video graphics, and even the base drum head graphics. The end result created a seamless continuity between horizontal and vertical surfaces and made the overall visual impact, once their fans entered the venue, unforgettable. Obviously the people in the lower and upper tiers were able to enjoy this effort more so than the people on the floor, but those fans are always in greater number in a venue, thus, the effort is well worth it.
There can be confusion as to whether to choose flame retardant or non-flame retardant heavy weight theatrical muslin for a painters backdrop. The fact is, when paint is added to the surface of a flame retardant fabric, the fabric becomes non-flame retardant. Therefore, steps must be taking to make a painted backdrop flame retardant.
First, prior to painting, a special flame retardant additive should be added to the paint. A FR paint additive will not change the color or opacity of the paint, and it will help ensure that the face of the theatrical backdrop is flame retardant. Second, after the face of the backdrop is painted and the paint has dried, the back of the backdrop should be sprayed with a topical flame retardant chemical designed for natural fibers.
Since painting a backdrop nullifies the flame retardancy, you would think that you should always choose a non-flame retardant muslin for a painters backdrop. Non-flame retardant muslin is more affordable than flame retardant muslin, so why spend the extra money for flame retardant muslin when you will have to retreat it anyway?
The reason to consider utilizing flame retardant muslin for a painters backdrop is related to the issue of shrinkage. As theatrical muslin is composed of cotton fibers, it is prone to shrinkage. When a water-based flame retardant is applied at the mill, the fabric then becomes “sized” (pre-shrunken). Therefore, once the FR muslin is sewn into a backdrop at the desired finished size (height and width), and then paint and additional flame retardant is applied to the surface, there is very little (or no) additional shrinkage of the material. The painted backdrop will end up at approximately the same size as the sewn but unpainted backdrop.
For experienced scenic painters who plan to utilize a paint frame, a non flame retardant muslin works fine. The tension of the paint frame helps prevent shrinkage. For less experienced scenic painters and/or those who will not be using a paint frame, we recommend purchasing a painters backdrop manufactured using flame retardant muslin. This way, shrinkage will not be a significant concern.