How to Build a Portable Cyclorama Wall

By Grahame Turner ; Updated September 15, 2017

Things Needed

  • 3/4-inch PVC pipe
  • Eight 3/4-inch PVC caps
  • Two 3/4-inch PVC T-junctions
  • Two 3/4-inch PVC X-junctions
  • PVC glue
  • Two 3/4-inch PVC elbows
  • Sheet of white fabric
  • Sewing machine
  • Two Velcro conversion straps
  • Two 3/4-inch PVC couplings
  • Gaffer's tape and weights
The cyclorama is also used in photo studios to stand behind models.

When you go to a concert or a stage production and see a large, blank backdrop behind the performers, you are looking at a cyclorama. Sometimes it is used to project a light show or video clips; sometimes it just creates a neutral backdrop for the performance. Whatever you may need a cyclorama for, you can make a simple, portable one quickly and fairly cheaply. You can also use a similar set-up for creating a green screen.

Cut eight 2-foot lengths of PVC pipe and two 2-inch lengths. These pieces will make up the feet of the cyclorama.

Attach a cap to the end of a 2-foot length. Repeat with three more pieces.

Dry-fit the foot into a T- and X-junction. Insert the 2-inch length into the straight side of a T-junction and a 2-foot capped length into the other end. Insert this into the X-junction, and fill the remaining three slots with another 2-foot length. This forms one of the feet of your frame.

Glue the pieces together. Repeat the steps to make a second foot.

Measure a length of PVC pipe for the width and length of the cyclorama, and cut the pieces. Make these pieces as wide and as tall as you need the cyclorama to be. You will have three pieces: one for the top and two for the sides.

Slide a coupling on a side piece. Repeat with the other coupling.

Dry-fit the frame together. Insert the top section into two PVC elbows. Insert the two sides into those elbows, then into the upturned T-junctions on the two feet. This creates the frame for your cyclorama. Make sure it is the right size and shape for your needs. If it isn't, trim the piece as needed.

Measure a piece of fabric so that it is precisely the height and width of the cyclorama. Add 1 inch to the width of the fabric screen and 1 foot to the height. Cut the piece of fabric to this size.

Fold the top foot of the sheet down. Sew 1/2-inch from the left side of the sheet to create a pocket. Repeat on the other side of the sheet. This becomes the top of your screen.

Flip the pocket inside out, and lay the sheet so that the pocket is facing up and at the top of your work area.

Measure 8 inches from the bottom of the sheet on the left and right sides. Sew Velcro or other hook-and-loop straps to this side so that half of the strap hangs off the side of the screen.

Slip the pocket over the top of the cyclorama frame. The fabric should be tight against the frame to hold the screen taut and hold the frame together without glue.

Lift the left-side coupling up to about 9 inches, and hold it in place. Attach the screen to the frame with Velcro or other hook-and-loop strips so that it is taut, then let the coupling fall to the bottom. Mark this position on the frame. Repeat on the other side.

Remove the screen.

Glue the couplings into place on the frame.

Take the frame apart and leave the glue to dry overnight.

Reassemble the frame, slide the fabric back over the top and attach the bottom into place with Velcro or hook-and-loop strips underneath the two couplings. Use gaffer's tape and weights to hold the feet in place. Place weights over the bottom edge of the screen to hold it in place.

Tip

When storing, fold the screen into a 4-foot square, collapse the frame and store the two feet underneath the fabric to prevent rips and tears. If your fabric tears, you will need to replace or patch it.

Warning

A torn sheet of fabric held taut may cause the rip to become larger. Inspect the sheets before hanging them for rips and tears, and patch or replace the sheet immediately.

About the Author

Grahame Turner has worked as a freelance writer since 2009 and a freelance reporter since 2010 for Wellesley Patch and Jamaica Plain Patch in Massachusetts. He also works part-time as a bookseller at the Northeastern University bookstore. He is a Northeastern University graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in English.