What’s in a Backdrop?

What’s in a Backdrop?

Feb 4, 2014

We may be able to guess the most obvious answers, paint, cloth, brushes and a design – voila? Or Voila!

The theater world has relied on backdrops and scenery in general for hundreds of years –some of the best supporting roles can be found simply hanging on stage. Backdrops are an important part, one that provides the thread between the actor and the story. Depending on the production, many backdrops are already available for rent from Grosh Backdrops & Drapery. Whether you’re in need of a forest landscape, New York City buildings or a ship for Peter Pan, Grosh has what you need.

You maybe thinking – well, I really need something different, a specific design just for my show. Consider having a backdrop custom painted for your production– but how do you do that?

We interviewed Creative Director, Greg Viera from Grosh Custom to answer some questions you might have:

Q: What do I need to give you so you can paint my backdrop?

A: Any design or rendering you have in mind is the main starting point. We can work from pretty much anything; a Photoshop file or just some pictures you can email and we can work with you to develop your design.

Also the size of the backdrop and any other elements or special effects you want out of the backdrop. By this I mean if you plan to use any lighting effects; we’re able to use Invisible UV, back paint for translucency and much more.

Q: How large or small can you paint a backdrop?

A: We can make anything happen regarding the scale of your vision. We have requests for small photo backings of 8’h x 10’w, large concerts in need of 30’h x 60’w and have even done backdrops for movies that are several hundred feet wide. Our 6 counterweight paint frames are 30’h x 50’w in our Los Angeles, CA studio. For jobs larger than that, we are able to reef the drop to the frame and continue painting the folded section as we go or if need be even paint on location.

Q: What’s the process in painting a drop? How long does it take?

A: Once we have the completed design we run through the following steps to take it from paper to paint:

  • Scale the design on paper and grid out the image in 4’ x 4’ squares
  • Once the muslin cyc is sewn with webbing and grommets we hang the material on our frames and prime it.
  • We then project the image onto large pieces of butcher paper to the appropriate scale and pounce the design onto the muslin which traces the design.
  • Mix and sample the paint colors for quality using a latex based paint.
  • Our team uses either paint brushes, a Hudson sprayer connected to air compressors or a combination of the two to achieve the look of the design.
  • Once the design is approved, we flame proof the finished backdrop and our warehouse ships it to you.

Depending on the size and design, we can paint something in as little as a day to several weeks; whatever the customer and budget requires. However an average drop takes us around one week.

The Olms backdrop

Artist paining detail onto The Olms concert tour backdrop.

Q: How much does a backdrop cost?

A: Our rental inventory ranges from $295 – $450 per item per week on average. There have been times when our clientele have asked for a custom backdrop to be painted but they were wary of paying for a one time use. In this case, our production department works with our team to evaluate the backdrop. If we feel it will fit into the Grosh rental inventory, we will paint it for rental and you have a custom backdrop for what it costs to rent.

Generally the cost of a custom backdrop depends on the size and degree of difficulty of the design. The costs can range from $1500 – $8000 and more. For precise costs, feel free to contact me at Greg@grosh.com or call us at 877-363-7998.

 

Grosh Backdrops and Drapery has been an innovator in the backdrop and drapery industry for over 85 years.  They are constantly improving how scenery comes to life in the theater world by evolving with the industry and even updating how backdrops and drapery are hung by designing and developing the BackdropLIFT – a portable telescoping lifting system.

For more information about Grosh Backdrops and Drapery and their other divisions, Grosh Custom and BackdropLIFT, you can visit http://www.grosh.com/.