Answering Basic Questions

  • What suggestions do you have on choosing a backdrop for a dance or for a whole dance recital?

Obviously, the first question to be answered is what is the theme of the dance or show?  Once that is determined, finding an appropriate backdrop is relatively easy.  Our backdrops are broken down into categories and by show.  So if someone is looking for a garden backdrop, they should go to our Garden category.  If someone needs a backdrop for Beauty and the Beast, then they can go to our Beauty and the Beast selections.

  • If a studio owner can only have one backdrop for the entire show, what would you recommend?

If only one backdrop can be used, then the owner really has to decide what the overall theme for their show will be.  We could provide a great backdrop for a small portion of their show, but the backdrop might not fit the rest of the show.  My suggestion is that if there is more tap, jazz, and hip hop, then one of our abstract or novelty backdrops would be an excellent choice.  If the show is more of a ballet, maybe a softer scene like clouds or a sunset for example would be the choice.  Another option would be to use different colored lights on a cyclorama curtain.  A simple lighting change can turn the mood of the stage in an instant.  But again, it really is up to the director.

  • What information and dimensions do studio owners need to know before renting a backdrop?

The first thing they should do is talk to the stage manager where they are performing.  They can tell you what size backdrops the venue can accommodate.  Also, when finding out the dimensions of the stage, make sure that when you get the measurements to ask if that is the wall to wall measurement or the proscenium measurement.  Also, ask if the venue can adjust the proscenium for different size backdrops.  For instance, if the venue states that the backdrops should be 22×50, ask if they can mask down the proscenium for an 18×42 or even a 15×36.  It usually isn’t that difficult to drop a border or pull in the wings unless the battens are dead hung (i.e. they don’t drop to the stage).   Now if it’s a small stage, the larger backdrops might be difficult to use.  Another bit of information that would be helpful is to find out how many battens are at your disposal for hanging backdrops.

  • What is the difference between a hand painted and digitally painted backdrop?  What are the pros/cons of each?

Well, we only deal in hand painted backdrops.  Obviously, the hand painted backdrops are more theatrical since they really are a form of art.  Sometimes the digitally printed backdrops aren’t as clear as you might think.  Some can be a little blurry.  The fabrics used for each are different as well.  The hand painted backdrops are typically painted on muslin or scrims and are easy to fold and store.  The digital backdrops are usually printed on a polyester blend fabric and are meant to be rolled.  However, new technology with softer fabrics is starting to emerge.  The digital backdrops are more expensive to produce and not readily available for rent meaning if you want a digital printed backdrop, it would more than likely have to be a custom made one.

  • What are your tips on hanging backdrops for studio owners that have never done so before?  How does a backdrop get hung and what do studio owners need to know ahead of time?

All of our backdrops have grommets and ties across the top for hanging.  You simply tie the backdrop on to one of the stage battens.  One question to ask the stage manager is if the bars can lower down to the stage.  If they do, hanging a backdrop will take about 5-10 minutes.  If the bars do not lower to the stage, then you will have to go up and down a ladder or cherry picker to hang the backdrop, and it will take about 30 minutes to hang one backdrop.  Side note, if you use a cherry picker, please be careful of the lubricated parts of the machine.  If a backdrop comes in contact with the grease, the backdrop will get stained.  And it’s a nasty stain to try to get out.  When hanging, start from the center and work your way out to the ends.  The center line on the backdrop is marked on the back.  The center of the stage should be marked on the bars.  If you have more backdrop than bar, just fold it back and tie it off behind the rest of the drop.

  • What tips do you have to have backdrops look best without wrinkles?

Wrinkles are tricky.  You cannot iron or steam the backdrop.  That will damage the curtain by activating the paint creating water stains or paint runs.  So, my best advice is to hang the backdrop at the venue as soon as possible.  The first chance you get to hang them up, do it.  Second thing to do is make sure that you weight the bottom of the backdrop.  All of my backdrops have a pipe pocket along the bottom.  Ask the venue if they have weights for this.  The weight simply uses gravity to pull the fabric tight to eliminate the wrinkles.

  • How should backdrops be folded for storage or return shipping?

We store our backdrops wrapped in plastic bags inside of cardboard boxes.  The plastic is an extra layer of protection from moisture and dirt.  So when the backdrops are received, they will arrive as such.  There will also be folding instructions inside the box.  There are different ways to fold a backdrop.  We have our own preference which are included in the instructions we provide.  But, the bottom line is to fold them neatly so that they fit back inside the box for shipping.  We also request that our backdrops be placed back inside of a plastic bag and inside the box just like when they received it.  If anything happens in transit, and the backdrop has not been wrapped in plastic and damage has occurred, the customer will be responsible for the damage.  So, when you receive the backdrop, save the box, the bag, and the instructions and repackage the backdrop the way you received it.  If the bag and/or box gets thrown away or is not fit for shipping, then the customer is responsible to get another box and bag for the return.  And lastly, before you lay the backdrop on the stage for hanging or when you are taking it down to repackage, sweep the stage.  We don’t want the backdrop used as the broom especially when you have any of the white or black curtains.