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One person's approach to backrops

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  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,278 posts
One person's approach to backrops
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, July 17, 2003 2:52 PM
What I have done here is take the piece below I wrote from another thread. In it I am talking to some one who has asked a question about how to approach backdrops. In my opinion, backdrops are fraught with problems because so much skill can be demanded depending on your "given and druthers." There is also a lot of very bad backdrops out there.

In this thread you will find a link to backdrop warehouse's stuff, their layout demo's that customers have sent in. You will see before and after pictures of the layout, pre and post commercial backdrop added. Some of the backdrops work very well. Others are jarring because the owner didn't incorporate colours from the backdrop into his fore ground and it looks disjointed.

I am not recommending commercial backdrop, nor am I recommending you don't get it. What I am saying in the piece below is that when I assessed MY skills, I made a decision to go with a commercial back drop for obvious reasons.

What I am suggesting to you, the layout owner who is struggling with what to do, is take my categories of backdrops, assess your skills - or those of your friends who would help out, or some one paid commercially - then decide which is the best way to go - painted, photo's, or commercial.

A backdrop is one of the most important items on a layout. Although it should not dominate, it should not detract either. There are three levels of backdrops - 1) the Wow! category where the backdrop knocks your socks off 2) the good category where the backdrop does a good job of setting the tone, atmosphere and location of the layout, but it doesn't dominate; and lastly - 3) the invisible category - backdrop which is there but people don't become aware of it right away; more importantly it doesn't detract from the layout either. For example, a good sky scene can be an invisible category.

The second step for me was to choose which category I wanted. Of course my first choice was the "Wow! category, but as you will see latter, this changed.

Next a serious assessment of my skills. Since I feel the backdrop should be so important, the question that comes to mind is - do I possess the artistic skill to pull off any of the above three categories. Well I felt I could do a category three backdrop, but remember I wanted a category one backdrop.

So I ruled out me doing the backdrop, which led me into either commercial backdrops or using my photography for backdrops. I ruled out my own photo backdrops as I didn't feel up to the task. So a commercial backdrop it was to be.

So I decided on something from www.backdropwarehouse.com but that was when I learnt about another important aspect of backdrops - affordability. You see I was going to need about 65 feet of backdrop and to be honest I just wasn't going to be able to afford that much in Canadian dollars from backdropwarehouse.

I then looked at a local chap in Vancouver who does a good job, but I ruled him out due to cost and to the fact that I decided to change locations - he was going to shoot some local scenes for me.

So finally, finances being a harsh mistress, I decided on Faller's for my backdrop. I got the look I was after but I had to drop a category from "Wow" to "good." The only way you can see all of what is available from Faller's is to look at an older Walther's catalogue. Walther's still carries it all or will bring it in, but it no longer shows all of what is available in current catalogues.

So in the end, I installed 65 feet of Faller's (I had to order more since it comes in pre-determined lengths in various scenes). I ended up using three different scenes with three different heights to suit the area of bench work where it was going (double decker).

So this is how I reasoned out my backdrop. Of course I don't know what you are skilled at - art? photography? Or what your priorities are - wow, good, or invisible. But maybe my process of reasoning can help you out.

Do your backdrop early in the layout building. You'll be one of the only ones in your area with a finished backdrop and you will be amazed at how "finished" your layout will appear, with - if you are like me - you have no track laid yet.

Also, before anyone criticizes the commercial stuff from backdropwarehouse, check the demos out, I think you'll be impressed. My only problem with the company is the pricing, for those who need large quantities of the stuff.

There is also a chap in Australia who does some really good work and has some Canadian mountain scenes available (also scenes of Vancouver, BC). Unfortunately, I don't have his web address.

My intent is not to tell you what to do, but to provide a tool for you to honestly assess what you want versus what you can do.
  • Member since
    April 2003
  • 302,278 posts
One person's approach to backrops
Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, July 17, 2003 2:52 PM
What I have done here is take the piece below I wrote from another thread. In it I am talking to some one who has asked a question about how to approach backdrops. In my opinion, backdrops are fraught with problems because so much skill can be demanded depending on your "given and druthers." There is also a lot of very bad backdrops out there.

In this thread you will find a link to backdrop warehouse's stuff, their layout demo's that customers have sent in. You will see before and after pictures of the layout, pre and post commercial backdrop added. Some of the backdrops work very well. Others are jarring because the owner didn't incorporate colours from the backdrop into his fore ground and it looks disjointed.

I am not recommending commercial backdrop, nor am I recommending you don't get it. What I am saying in the piece below is that when I assessed MY skills, I made a decision to go with a commercial back drop for obvious reasons.

What I am suggesting to you, the layout owner who is struggling with what to do, is take my categories of backdrops, assess your skills - or those of your friends who would help out, or some one paid commercially - then decide which is the best way to go - painted, photo's, or commercial.

A backdrop is one of the most important items on a layout. Although it should not dominate, it should not detract either. There are three levels of backdrops - 1) the Wow! category where the backdrop knocks your socks off 2) the good category where the backdrop does a good job of setting the tone, atmosphere and location of the layout, but it doesn't dominate; and lastly - 3) the invisible category - backdrop which is there but people don't become aware of it right away; more importantly it doesn't detract from the layout either. For example, a good sky scene can be an invisible category.

The second step for me was to choose which category I wanted. Of course my first choice was the "Wow! category, but as you will see latter, this changed.

Next a serious assessment of my skills. Since I feel the backdrop should be so important, the question that comes to mind is - do I possess the artistic skill to pull off any of the above three categories. Well I felt I could do a category three backdrop, but remember I wanted a category one backdrop.

So I ruled out me doing the backdrop, which led me into either commercial backdrops or using my photography for backdrops. I ruled out my own photo backdrops as I didn't feel up to the task. So a commercial backdrop it was to be.

So I decided on something from www.backdropwarehouse.com but that was when I learnt about another important aspect of backdrops - affordability. You see I was going to need about 65 feet of backdrop and to be honest I just wasn't going to be able to afford that much in Canadian dollars from backdropwarehouse.

I then looked at a local chap in Vancouver who does a good job, but I ruled him out due to cost and to the fact that I decided to change locations - he was going to shoot some local scenes for me.

So finally, finances being a harsh mistress, I decided on Faller's for my backdrop. I got the look I was after but I had to drop a category from "Wow" to "good." The only way you can see all of what is available from Faller's is to look at an older Walther's catalogue. Walther's still carries it all or will bring it in, but it no longer shows all of what is available in current catalogues.

So in the end, I installed 65 feet of Faller's (I had to order more since it comes in pre-determined lengths in various scenes). I ended up using three different scenes with three different heights to suit the area of bench work where it was going (double decker).

So this is how I reasoned out my backdrop. Of course I don't know what you are skilled at - art? photography? Or what your priorities are - wow, good, or invisible. But maybe my process of reasoning can help you out.

Do your backdrop early in the layout building. You'll be one of the only ones in your area with a finished backdrop and you will be amazed at how "finished" your layout will appear, with - if you are like me - you have no track laid yet.

Also, before anyone criticizes the commercial stuff from backdropwarehouse, check the demos out, I think you'll be impressed. My only problem with the company is the pricing, for those who need large quantities of the stuff.

There is also a chap in Australia who does some really good work and has some Canadian mountain scenes available (also scenes of Vancouver, BC). Unfortunately, I don't have his web address.

My intent is not to tell you what to do, but to provide a tool for you to honestly assess what you want versus what you can do.
  • Member since
    August 2002
  • From: Corpus Christi, Texas
  • 2,377 posts
Posted by leighant on Thursday, July 17, 2003 3:23 PM
re pix of Faller backgrounds in Walthers catalogues. I haven't bought the printed catalogue the last couple years. But Walthers website has photos of the 7 Faller backgrounds available. I notice there are 14 item catalogue numbers, 7 with photos and lower prices, and all "not in stock". Then there are 7 more items without photos but the last few digits of the catalogue number are the same, there is the same description and proportionately higher prices. This is apparently a new release of the old items, but the old photos should be applicable.
  • Member since
    August 2002
  • From: Corpus Christi, Texas
  • 2,377 posts
Posted by leighant on Thursday, July 17, 2003 3:23 PM
re pix of Faller backgrounds in Walthers catalogues. I haven't bought the printed catalogue the last couple years. But Walthers website has photos of the 7 Faller backgrounds available. I notice there are 14 item catalogue numbers, 7 with photos and lower prices, and all "not in stock". Then there are 7 more items without photos but the last few digits of the catalogue number are the same, there is the same description and proportionately higher prices. This is apparently a new release of the old items, but the old photos should be applicable.

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