Trouble finding backdrop for "Cats"/moon

timize

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Jan 26, 2007
My high school theater company is staging Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats" in March and I'm the designated set designer.

The thing is, we are a public high school and money is very hard to come by. We are known to produce very professional productions, but this on may be difficult to grasp because of the amount of financial issues that arise from acquiring the rights to the musical, logo, the music itself, the set, etc. Custom backdrops cost a lot of money, so before you mention anything about custom backdrops, keep in mind that we are on a very tight budget.

That said, it's so difficult to find a decent night sky backdrop with a full moon on it. It couldn't be simpler, but many places I've looked at online like to sell complicated designs rather than a simple one as "Cats" has. Does anyone have any suggestions to look for a good backdrop that resembles the one "Cats" uses?

 

Van

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re: Trouble finding backdrop for "Cats"/moon

Do you own a cyc and a scrim? What exactly are your budget constraints. Here's my take on it. If you are going to commit to producing a show then you must look at the technical requirements for said show and be prepared to meet them, ( read that, "pay for them") That being said, there are a lot of solutions to producing the effects I'm seeing in that foto.You could very easily produce a starfield with a low cost fiber optic system. You could do the moon with a moonbox placed just upstage of a standard cyc. Put a black scrim just downstage of the cyc, and Viola` you have a cool looking night sky. Again not knowing your inventory, artistic capabilities, or bottomline budgets, it hard to give a definate answer. I assume you've already talked to Rosebrand and or Norcostco to look into renting a stock drop?
 
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re: Trouble finding backdrop for "Cats"/moon

What Van said (this seems to be a theme...). If you go the Scrim and cyc route you can also mount a few 50 degs, 6x9s, 36 degs, what have you on booms just DS of the scrim, and if properly focused a good start field will be the result (with the proper gobos of course).
 

timize

Member
Joined
Jan 26, 2007
re: Trouble finding backdrop for "Cats"/moon

Do you own a cyc and a scrim? What exactly are your budget constraints. Here's my take on it. If you are going to commit to producing a show then you must look at the technical requirements for said show and be prepared to meet them, ( read that, "pay for them") That being said, there are a lot of solutions to producing the effects I'm seeing in that foto.You could very easily produce a starfield with a low cost fiber optic system. You could do the moon with a moonbox placed just upstage of a standard cyc. Put a black scrim just downstage of the cyc, and Viola` you have a cool looking night sky. Again not knowing your inventory, artistic capabilities, or bottomline budgets, it hard to give a definate answer. I assume you've already talked to Rosebrand and or Norcostco to look into renting a stock drop?
We have raised thousands of dollars for the show, it's just that most of the money is going to the rights, costumes, and lumber/set items for the show, and we like to take a more solemn route with the special effects and use as little money as possible. Custom backdrops go from around $2,000-4,000 - that's a bit too much. I'm saying, if we could find a way to use less than $1,000, it would be very nice.

I like the idea of using a scrim and cyc (which we do have). I'll talk to the director and see what he thinks of it. I've only been experimenting with all the technical aspects of theater for about six months, so I don't have much experience with this kind of stuff. But I'm trying to learn.
 

sound_nerd

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Nov 24, 2004
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Toronto Ontario
re: Trouble finding backdrop for "Cats"/moon

Any chance you've got some talented paint people at the school? Have you considered painting your own backdrop? Just a thought.
 

Van

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re: Trouble finding backdrop for "Cats"/moon

We have raised thousands of dollars for the show, it's just that most of the money is going to the rights, costumes, and lumber/set items for the show, and we like to take a more solemn route with the special effects and use as little money as possible. Custom backdrops go from around $2,000-4,000 - that's a bit too much. I'm saying, if we could find a way to use less than $1,000, it would be very nice.

I like the idea of using a scrim and cyc (which we do have). I'll talk to the director and see what he thinks of it. I've only been experimenting with all the technical aspects of theater for about six months, so I don't have much experience with this kind of stuff. But I'm trying to learn.
When you say "custom drop" are you referringto one you make yourself or are you referring to a rented drop ? how long are your runs ? To me a "custom" drop would be one a designer designs for one of my shows and then I need to get a painter in, use up my layout floor, get it juted, grommetted etc. The cost on such a "custom drop" can vary greatly depending on the size of your stage picture. Now rented drops are a different story, and you might just find that renting a "night sky" drop is rather affordable. Do a google search on "scenic Rentals" you'll find a ton of houses willing to rent you a generic night sky.
 

danl

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Aug 24, 2004
Location
west virginia
re: Trouble finding backdrop for "Cats"/moon

we did cats last year and i created my backdrop (below) in a couple of steps:
(this is all done on one fly line)
1. hung solid black back drop
2. in front of that, "Created" a star field with several net-strung christmas lights...
3. using black electrical tape, i taped off (covered up) the lights that i did not want to see... it was a little bit time consuming (i had a team of 6 working on it for several days), but it looked great!
4. in front of that i hung a black sharktooth scrim... it is a great effect when a slight movement of the black scrim makes the christmas lights "twinkle"...
5. in front of that i hung a full moon cut out, with a special devoted to it for the entire show
6. i projected a cloud gobo onto the scrim
the final result is below... you can see more pics in the the "theater" section of my site:
http://www.revolutionfreedom.com
good luck!!! cats is a lot of fun!!!
 

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joeboo46

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Jan 5, 2009
Location
Northeast Pennsylvania
re: Trouble finding backdrop for "Cats"/moon

we did cats last year and i created my backdrop (below) in a couple of steps:
(this is all done on one fly line)
1. hung solid black back drop
2. in front of that, "Created" a star field with several net-strung christmas lights...
3. using black electrical tape, i taped off (covered up) the lights that i did not want to see... it was a little bit time consuming (i had a team of 6 working on it for several days), but it looked great!
4. in front of that i hung a black sharktooth scrim... it is a great effect when a slight movement of the black scrim makes the christmas lights "twinkle"...
5. in front of that i hung a full moon cut out, with a special devoted to it for the entire show
6. i projected a cloud gobo onto the scrim
Yes the last post always beats me to it all I have to suggest and I have tried this many times and it works very well :

1:If you do decide to go with the christmas light/scrim idea do not run the christmas lights at full run them between 25 to 30% the look is much better + i found it helped the twinkle effect
2: If you hang the scrim close enough to your "star field" try just using a 26 or 36 degree for the moon. shooting from a straight on position right onto the scrim. Focus it sharpish with some sort of blue in it I used R67 for a show.

Heres a picture from that show with christmas light star field and leko moon there are some other pics of the show there also:

http://s372.photobucket.com/albums/...he Wannabes/?action=view&current=IMGP0266.jpg

The front lights were a bit bright for a set picture but you get the idea.


Just suggestions.
 
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erosing

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Jul 6, 2005
Location
Wisconsin
re: Trouble finding backdrop for "Cats"/moon

Do you have a plaster-cyc by chance? If you do you could alsways paint that, and then repaint after the show's done.

As for a moon, why not just build one out of cardboard or plywood for yourself?

Paint+sheet of 4x8 = cheap

paint+free cardboard box = cheaper

I don't have pictures of the set anymore but that's what we did. Turned out very nice and fluid.
 

jessamarie6

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Jun 19, 2008
Location
Chicago
re: Trouble finding backdrop for "Cats"/moon

I've also heard of people using plexiglass for a moon. A little sanding and painting on it will make it more visually interesting, but just by itself it will glow when hit properly with light. Really cool effect.
 

derekleffew

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Aug 21, 2007
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Las Vegas, NV, USA
My secret "recipe" for a theatrical full moon (not be be confused with pressed-ham:twisted:): a 6x12 w/ Iris (or appropriate aperture reducer) and an 8" Fresnel hung next to each other on the cyc light pipe, both Open White, on separate dimmers. The sharply focused ERS is the moon, and the Fresnel is the haze. Adjust levels to suit.

cyc moon and stars.jpg


The stars were mini Xmas lights pinned to the back of the cyc, with many lamps covered with black E-tape.
 
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lieperjp

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