How to use a cyclorama for your production
What is a cyclorama
A cyclorama has walls with coves instead of edges, used as a background that gives the impression of infinite space. Cyclorama is often shortened as cyc, and other names include infinity wall/cove, seamless backdrop, and waterfall walls.
A cyclorama has many uses for both photographers and videographers. The single-colored walls and lack of discernible corners allow creatives to isolate their subjects easily.
How can you use a cyclorama for your production?
There are many ways to use a cyc for your next production. A simple, full-body shot or talking head for a commercial is a great way to get a crisp white background. Product shots, model shoots, workout videos, & music videos commonly use white cycs. Using a few pieces in the foreground, you can create your own unique set.
You can shine some colored LED light or gelled tungsten lights on the cyc wall to change the background color behind your talent. Cycs can also be painted in any color requested, making them perfect for large green screens.
Digital green cycs are a great way to smoothly composite backgrounds. Virtual projection backgrounds are also a new way cycs are being used. Live stream events background colors and images can easily be changed with projections to have the stage look different in-between speakers.
The possibilities are endless for your projects.
How to use a cyclorama correctly
The white of the background is like an empty canvas, allowing creatives the freedom to dress their set however they see fit. While there is no “correct” way to use a cyc, there are some practices you can incorporate into your work to produce better results.
We’ve put together a few tips to help you produce your best work when using a cyclorama.
Understanding white balance
Before you rent studio space, check to see if the cyclorama is pre-lit. Most pre-lit cycs have enough light to avoid shadows being cast on the walls. Even if the cyclorama is pre-lit, you will still need to light your subject.
Before shooting begins, be sure to set the white balance on your camera correctly. The lights in your set will make the white colors in your shot appear warmer or cooler depending on the light temperature.
This color casting is common when using your camera’s auto white balancing, as digital cameras have a difficult time discerning what is actually white compared to the human eye. This causes some shots to appear more blue or orange when auto white balance is left on.
When booking a sound stage, be sure to ask for the color temperature of the lights used in the studio and adjust your camera setting when you get there.
Keep the cyclorama clean
The single-colored walls and floor of the cyclorama make any dirt and marks stand out on camera. To avoid dirtying up the cyc, wearing booties is highly encouraged for all production staff. Blankets or ram boards on the floor are encouraged to reduce footprints, dirt, and equipment scuff marks.
Most production facilities charge a re-painting fee if your crew dirties the walls or floor. Avoid the charge and be respectful of the space you are renting.
Maintain space between the walls and your subject
Anything put in front of the walls, whether a person or an object, should be as far away from the walls as possible. This helps isolate your subject from the background better and avoids potential shadows from hitting the wall, which can ruin the illusion of infinite space.
If the cyclorama is being used as a green screen, the distance between the walls and your subject will help you avoid unwanted reflections and green spill. This will make post-production editing much more manageable.
By keeping crew, equipment, and set pieces away from the cove walls, you also avoid accidentally damaging the cyc. The curves connecting the floor to the walls are fragile and can be broken easily.
There’s a lot of potential to be had by using a white cyclorama. They are excellent for isolating subjects, which is useful for both photography and video, and it’s easy to dress a set how you see fit. Different color choices make it easy to match the look and feel of the videos you are trying to create.
The Film Hub has two cycloramas that are perfect for your next video shoot.
Stage 1 includes:
⋅ 52’ x 42’ soundstage
⋅ 30’W x 36’D x 15’H pre-lit, two-wall green cyc
⋅ 22’w X 20’d X 15′ H pre-lit, two-wall white cyc
Our Stage 2 includes:
⋅ 50’ x 27’ soundstage
⋅ 15’w X 27’d X 15’H pre-lit, three-wall white cyc
We’d love to help you produce great content and are happy to answer any of your questions regarding our studio space. Feel free to give us a call at (760) 643-0850, or learn more about the different facilities we have to offer.