This guide was first published on Apr 28, 2013. It was last
updated on Apr 28, 2013.
This page (Part I - Cyclorama) was last updated on May 11, 2019.
A cyclorama is a surface that provides you with a uniform background. A cyclorama (also called a cyc, rhymes with “bike”) can vary in size from a tabletop (such as this one) to a warehouse (used for cars and other large objects). It’s really nothing more than a concave surface of uniform texture — it’s horizontally flat in the front and curves up to vertical in the background. The one we’re going to build here uses a lightweight frame of PVC pipe and a sheet of poster board, along with a few thin panels of MDF for extra rigidity. It costs about $20 in parts. If you are using a table that sits up against a wall, you can skip the PVC frame and simply tape the poster board to the wall and table in the appropriate shape. However, you may find the PVC frame gives you more flexibility because you can move around it. The added bonus is that it’s a good excuse to use power tools.
- 12ft of 3/4” Schedule 40 PCV pipe
- 6 90° elbows (3/4” sch. 40)
- 2 tee joints (3/4” sch. 40)
- 2’x4’ panel of 1/4” MDF (or 3/16” hardboard)
- 1 sheet of white posterboard (22”x28”) — get a few extra if you can.
- 2 small binder clips
Cut the PVC into seven segments of 18” in length. Cut the remaining pipe into two pieces of 3” each. Follow the photo for assembly instructions. It really doesn’t matter in what order you put the pieces together as long as you square it up when you’re done. You can use pipe cement too if you want, but there’s really no need. If you leave the pieces loose, then you can take it apart later for storage.
Now it’s time to cut the MDF panel. You’re going to cut two pieces, one 16”x24” and the other 20”x24”. Lay the 16” piece across the bottom and lay the 20” piece up against the back as shown.
If you want to, you can secure the back piece to the frame, though you can just lean it against the back. Take the posterboard and install it as shown, shiny side up.
Clip it to the front edge of the MDF with binder clips and form the curve (an arc of about 3” radius). Once you have the curve the way you like it, tape it to the back board with masking tape.
If all went well, your cyclorama should look like the one in the photo. Congratulations!