We recently hired some carpenters and painters to help us build a small cyclorama in our photo studio. I took a few photos of the project so I could show you how it was done, and how it turned out.
First, English is not my first language even if I might be able to fool some with photography terms, but when it comes to all the words needed to explain how this cyc was built, I feel that I really don’t have the right vocabulary. If there is anything I miss or use the wrong terms for, please let me know.
Our studio is quite small, but big enough for portraits and some product photography, I think the wall you see is a little over 3 meters wide, maybe 3,5 meters (10 feet).
We planned to leave around 30 centimeters (1 foot) on either side for placing Autopoles, mostly to be sure they had really firm floor to stand on.
The guys helping us build the cyclorama used our sketch on a napkin which said just “floor here, wall here, and a round corner between them (together with this link to a NSFW-ish video with a girl in bikini showing hot to build one).
They started by making a frame on the floor with beams spaced out evenly, I think this could be called a truss? And they put something similar on the wall.
They framework on the floor was not attached to the in any way, we guessed that the weight alone would keep it in place. Together with the beams screwed to the wall, it feels very solid and it is impossible to move.
The people I share this studio with use it sometimes for filming, and they wanted no noise coming from it. The carpenters added strips of some kind of dampening material under the frame to keep it in place, and to dampen any noise.
I think it might have been even better to fill the empty spaces between the studs (I think it might be called, the 2x4s?) with something that insulates and absorbs sound, but it might be overkill?
The next step was to decide the curvature of the round corner, after a little research on the net, we used around one meter (approx. 3 feet) from the wall and from the bottom up. We used plywood, and sawed away a quarter of a circle to make a smoot transition from floor to wall.
The material for the floor was also plywood, with strips of noise dampening material everywhere (for my filming friends).
Almost done. Fitting the last pieces together before it was time to work on all the screw holes and cracks between the panels.
Making the spaces and cracks between the panels to go away completely required a lot more work than we (and the painters) had planned. They had to add something called Microlit (which I think is a brand), a thin mesh you can sand and paint over, to be sure to get the surface even.
After that, more sanding, and more painting before the cyclorama was all white and very even. We used a dull paint which feels like it attracts dirt very easily, so I guess we will have to paint to floor part every now and then.
Even if the room we use as a photo studio is in no way big, building a cyclorama inside it makes it feel bigger. I am used to paper background for most of my portrait work and shoots like that, and sometimes it does not feel wide enough, the background.
Adding one meter in width makes a lot of difference, as long as you can keep the lights on Autopoles on the sides. What we need to do now is just to attach the background paper holders above the cyclorama for times when we need something other than white or grey background.
This is a test shot from my latest clothing photography session I did for a Swedish designer, they didn’t need full lenght body shots this time, but I thought I should try the new background out.
To keep the white floor white a little bit longer, I went to a store and bought a roll of covering paper (?) that painters use. It is glossy and white, and will hopefully protect the floor from getting too dirty fast.
The whole project took about a week for the carpenters and painters to do, and most of that time was spent getting the surface smooth. If we would have tried to do this by ourselves, it would have taken a lot longer.
If you think I have missed something, or gotten words or terms wrong, please let me know. Carpenter-, or Painter-English is not my strong side.