Cyc wall saga

Submitted on: 22 Oct 09

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Well, we call it a cyc wall even though it’s not really a cyc wall because it doesn’t include a vertical corner. I’m not sure why we say “cyc” at all. Aside from being easier to say than cyclorama wall, the words infinity wall cause a pleasant mental image of the seamless white background that disappears into, well, infinity.

Why did we bother with an infinity wall in the first place? Especially in a studio that costs just $25/hour to rent? I had heard from many photographers that while it’s generally not difficult to use white seamless paper to create the same effect, it’s also a lot more difficult. Not only do you have to get the curve just right but one pair of high heels can pretty much demolish that seamless white paper during a shoot. I wanted to install a cyc wall so that photographers in search of a rental photography studio would be able to just walk in and start shooting. To effeciently make us of their time in the studio.

The first attempt at the cyc wall was a triend and true approach. Or so I thought. After searching for several days I found a commercial supplier of vinyl flooring who agreed to sell a 12×30 piece for just over $100. I rented a van and hauled this very heavy roll to the studio. I painted the back side of the vinyl with Rosco primer followed by two coats of flat white paint. Meanwhile, I went to this incredible hardware store, Marshalls Hardware, near Miramar road. It was the only place I could find that sold pulleys so I bought pulleys there but only after roaming around the store seeing tools and other items I never knew existed. Incredible.

I hired a helper through craigslist to help mount the pulleys on the wall — 16 feet above the floor — so we could hoist the vinyl up to create the cyc wall. I wish I had used a dual pulley, block & tackle, to have made the hoisting easier. Up it went! Yahoo! It was then we discovered that positioning the vinyl before hoisting it caused cracking and other blemishes on the not-quite-a-cyc-wall. I was devastated. The cyc wall was to be a key attraction of the studio. After deciding against a second attempt with the vinyl flooring I began researching the possibility of using styrofoam to make a cyc wall.

Lo and behold I found a set designer from the TV/film industry who makes a patented cyc wall using styrofoam and a thin layer of concrete. dk3 studios became the first west coast installation of this new cyc wall construction. I’m happy now. The cyc wall looks wonderful and photographs beautifully. I am infinitely happy with infinity now.

1 Comment

  1. Darius B Williams

    I am a photographer in Memphis TN, also in need of a cyc wall. You mention that this is a patented technique. DO you know if the set designer is willing to consult long distance on construction or if they or you have any recommendations for construction of one here. As you can imagine I’m on a budget so flying them out here is rather cost prohibitive, but I could sure use some help! Thanks and good luck with your studio.

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