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Daniel Faith
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Inner circle
Neenah, Wisconsin
1526 Posts

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OK everyone.
Need opinions on back drops.
What do you use?
Where did you get them?
How much?

I am looking for something that sets up and breaks down quickly and looks very professional.

Thanks all!
Smile
Daniel Faith
Michael Messing
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Inner circle
Knoxville, TN
1800 Posts

Profile of Michael Messing
I use an Abbott's Jet Set for smaller shows. It's 6' x 6' and costs $75 for the frame. You can make your own drop for it or Abbott's sells one.

I use photographic backdrop stands for my larger shows. The are 8'6" tall by 9' wide. I also have one that is 12' wide. They run about $150-$200 per set and you have to have your own backdrops made. Cost is dependent on material.

I use the 12' wide backdrop set for most of my stage shows (illusions) and will add 4 additional backdrop sets if I need to cover my side and back angles.

The Spider Backdrop systems are really nice but very expensive. The go up really quickly and fold down very small.

You can even make a really nice backdrop out of cardboard. It's called the Jimmy Trimble backdrop and you'll find it in "The Super Show" sold by Magic, Inc. The entire "Super Show" book is also reproduced in "The Success Book" Vol. 1, also by Magic, Inc.

Michael
danryb
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Special user
506 Posts

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I also have the jet set but the folding arms never had a good angle and the whole thing can easily be blown over even by a standing fan - not reccomended but not bad if it is something small and light that you are looking for. On the other hand - not too expensive yet very sturdy and breaks up quickly but rather bulky in size is 2 6 foot tall folding speaker stands on either side of each other with a long tubular metal pole running 8 feet across them (I made mine to break up in the middle for easier transport) and a velvet or cotten curtain attached to curtain rings to attach to the pole on set up and set down. It sounds like a lot but realy is the best system for me at least and since I have stopped using it in my show I have found further uses to use it as a skeleton (no curtain) just to attach ballons and streamers to it during b.day parties.
Daniel Faith
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Inner circle
Neenah, Wisconsin
1526 Posts

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Thanks Magicmikey and danryb for the replies.
I like your ideas!
Doesn't anyone else have any thoughts or comments??

Smile
Daniel Faith
Dave Scribner
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Assistant Manager
Lake Hopatcong, NJ
4984 Posts

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I also use the jet sets. I have two of them so I can adjust the length anywhere from 3 ft to 12 ft. I also purchased a Eureka table base and got some tubing from the local hardware store for uprights and cross pieces. Putting this between the jet sets and using different lengths of tubing let's the whole thing expand to whatever I need. I went simple for the backdrops. Bought solid black sheets from a department store, put a hem in them and cut to length. I've used this setup for 30 years and never had them fall over as Danryb suggests. I've even used them outdoors. Just need to put a little weight on the bottom if necessary.

Dave
Where the magic begins
Dennis Michael
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Inner circle
Southern, NJ
6018 Posts

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Check the search engine here and the FX section on this topic. It is spread out in several sections.
Dennis Michael
victorkent
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Narnia
76 Posts

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Use good quality PVC pipes: you can build to suit your specs that way. For cloth find some good velvet or whatever suits your taste, have someone sew it and reinforce the top and bottoms. Put grommits or strong snap buttons or strong velco liberally across the top to connect it to the pipes an viola you have a custom backdrop.
-vk
John 3:16
http://www.victorkent.com
http://www.kentfamilyillusionshow.com
[email]victor@victorkent.com[/email]
Daniel J. Ferrara Jr.
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Regular user
Long Island, New York
182 Posts

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I use a homemade backdrop similar to what Victorkent described. It's PVC pipes and there are three sections each three feet wide and six feet tall. The cloth that covers it is like a glove that the three parts slip into. Also, I ran bungee cords through the pipes so that when I unfold them , they pop into shape. Then I just have to tighten them. This is hard to describe, hope it made sense.
Vaclav
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Now Seattle. Before? Who knows.
68 Posts

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For the framework try http://www.cheaplights.com .
For the cloth, any fabric store and seamstress or sewing machine.
Vaclav
Salazar Magic
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Veteran user
New Jersey
344 Posts

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Has anyone worked with the spider backdrop?
Eldon
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Virden, IL
1134 Posts

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White Magic Mfg. makes a nice Back Drop Stand. $64.00 + shipping.
MagicalPirate
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Shamokin, PA
828 Posts

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I've just fallen in love with the Trimble Screen. It was a wonderful invention. There are better materials to make these screens out of today than cardboard if you plan on building your own. Cardboard in the sheet size necessary to build these screens is difficult to find. Also, cardboard has the disadvantage of absorbing the paint or adhesives and causing warping of the board as a result. The new plastic board that they make is a much more suitable material. This is more durable and can handle getting wet without ruining the board. The covering you apply to it will suffer more from the moisture than the board will.

I hope this has helped those who are interested in improving the appearance of their show.

Magically Yours

Martin Blakley
Redbeard The Magical Pirate
Magical Bargains

http://www.redbeardentertainment.net/mbargains.htm
Martin Blakley, CSH, DASH, CMSA
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Faroshuffle
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Sacramento, CA (Orangevale)
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Okay, for all you guys out there using PVC frames.....anyone have any negatives to say about durability vs. cost? Naturally, we like inexpensive options. I'd be concerned that the PVC would bend and/or sag when subected to the heavier stresses of curtain weight, etc.

Solutions? Suggestions? Am I off my rocker?? Smile Smile
MagicalPirate
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Shamokin, PA
828 Posts

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The main thing with pvc frames is to use the heavier 1" pipe and thick not thin wall. You can probably put a lightweight frame of 1X6 material that would go up and down quicker than the the straight PVC.

More important than the material that you make the frame out of is the weight of the cloth that you make the curtain from. I had a curtain that I used too thin of material on and under the righbt lighting, which was easy since it was an outdoor show, you could see everything going on behind the curtain from the audience. So no matter how inexpensive you try to go on the frame, make sure you invest enough in your curtain.

A negative on the PVC is how broken down you have to make it to carry in your vehicle. I have a van so the frame could be carried in big sections. Putting those sections together was still a pain. If you had to break it down to fit in a car, the amount of setup and teardown time required could quickly nullify the cost savings. I finally gave up on mine and went to a photographers background stand that I could hang the Curtain from. It goes up and down quickly. However, none of these solutions are any good for outdoor shows at fairs or festivals. These are all strictly indoor solutions. The only outdoor solution that I would suggest would be to put up a canopy that you use for your backstage area and create a backdrop that attaches to your canopy. Then the wind will not knock it over.

Currently my plans are to build myself a modified Jimmy Trimble Screen that when put together not only creates a backgound screen with center curtained entrance but an enclosed backstage area of about 100 square feet. When I have it set up in a mall or school gymnasium I'll be able to do all my setup for the show without all those prying eyes.

If you try a PVC frame, check the rigidity of the material before you do anything else. Also, lay out on paper your design complete with the connections so you will know what you need, Otherwise, you will spend all your spare time making trips to the Home Depot or Lowe's or whatever chain of lumber yards is in your area. And after you make your frame, be sure to report back here so we can know all about your experience.

Martin Blakley
Redbeard The Magical Pirate

http://www.redbeardentertainment.net/mbargains.htm

http://www.redbeardentertainment.net/ebook/
Martin Blakley, CSH, DASH, CMSA
http://www.thehypnoguy.com/HYPNORESOURCES
http://www.docgrayson.com/
How To Sell Anything Online
http://tub.bz/?r=1z
Copyright to my own words retained 100%.
Mark Rough
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Inner circle
Ivy, Virginia
2110 Posts

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I believe David Reed-Brown has an article on backdrop options in one of the issues of the Secret Arts Journal (access through Jeff McBrides home page). Has anyone read that yet?

Mark
What would Wavy do?
jr_illusion
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USA
67 Posts

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I am going to attempt building my own backdrop. It's going to have a pvc frame, and is going to be about 5 feet wide and 7 feet tall (that is that plan as of now) and I am going to make 2 of these. If possible, I am going to make a tripod base and reinforce it somehow. There will be a pvc pipe connecting the 2 frames so I can simulate a curtain and have a slit in the middle to go backstage. It will be made to break down into my car, hopefully setup/take down will be easy. That's what I'm shooting for. Any thoughts on this?
Paul Chosse
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V.I.P.
1955 - 2010
2389 Posts

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The best articles ever written on backdrops for magicians appeared in a TOPS Magazine over a six month period in the eighties. They were written by Ron Bauer and included various ways to use the Abbott Jet Sets some of you have and use. There are modifications, combinations and adjustments to the equipment, as well as advice on how to use them in different venues. Bauer worked in about every situation you can imagine, and peppers the articles with information about angles, television production, mall work, outside sets, how to dress up the sets, etc. I'd be willing to bet that if you contacted Bauer at his website (www.thinklikeaconjuror.com), or if you called Gordon Miller at Abbotts', you could obtain copie of the articles. I'm pretty sure that the information was even included with the product at one time...

Best, PSC

P.S. Even if you don't have or buy the Jet Sets, the staging info is invaluable...
"You can't steal a gift..." Dizzy Gillespie
kaytracy
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Central California
1793 Posts

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I have used the Spider style systems with a display in another venue, and my experience is they are fine indoors, with no wind or breeze on them. If you use them in an area with fan or drafts, you will want sand bags on the base. Just a note, the one I used was curved, so it was MORE stable than the flat fronted one.
They are fast to go up and down, and the rolling case is sweet, but they are no fun when they decide to fall over!
A note on making your own backdrops...DO check with the local fire marshal on flame proofing, OR just do it. You may not be using fire in your act, but a hot light, or someone with a cigarette can wreak havoc. If in doubt go to the National Testing Lab folks (URL) and watch the things burn in the video clips.
Safety first!
Kay and Tory
www.Bizarremagick.com
Backroomboy
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David
114 Posts

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The main thing that you want to be concerned with in building a frame is to make it as absolutely rigid as possible, so you can draw on it to pull the drop tight so it doesn't sag.

Pvc bends like crazy. Lightweight antenna truss is cheap but bulky. My personal choice is a frame that is stiffened with wire rope and turnbuckles, much like a mast on a sailboat is.

The tear down is small...but the set-up takes time and patience. But then again...what's time to a magician?? LOL!!!
Daniel Faith
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Inner circle
Neenah, Wisconsin
1526 Posts

Profile of Daniel Faith
Thanks everyone for your responses...

I ended up building my own backdrop.

I bought flat black polyester for the curtain. This way I won't have problems with wrinkles.
For the frame I bought 3 old projector screens from a thrift shop. $3 each. These are very sterdy and the height is adjustable. I just removed the screens from them.
I opted against pvc because it really don't have the strength needed. Instead I bought heavy copper tubing. I made 2 - 6 foot sections with a 90 degree elbow soldered at one end of each one. Then, I have one T joint to use either for the center pole if I need 12 feet behind me or on the other end on a single section for a 6 foot backdrop. The tubing fits nicely on the top of the poles. It works beautifully and it's strong! I painted the bases flat black as well to blend with the curtain. The backdrop was inexpensive and it looks very professional when set up.
It can handle a really good breeze too and the legs can easily be weighted down.
Daniel Faith
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