Hi everyone,

My apologies if this has been discussed already, but I have had a difficult time finding an answer to this so far. What type of material & set up do you usually use for outdoor daytime set backgrounds?

For context:

I'm currently working on a redwood forest set that is about 4'x4' and plan on building the background later this week. It will likely need to be 5'x7' or larger since there is a camera move that pans diagonally across the set.

I have only made a background for a set this large once, and I clamped a large sheet of painted cardboard to a few c-stands which worked okay at the time (it was a night scene so the texture didn't matter). I have access to a large photography backdrop stand and a multitude of c-stands at my school but don't know what I should be looking for to put on it. I want the background to be relatively lightweight, but still able to take a few layers of acrylic paint without warping. Additionally, I have a very small budget, so cheap (under $30 USD) or second-hand materials are what I can realistically afford to look at.

Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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I'm working on a forest backdrop at the moment.  I am painting it on a piece of masonite (about 1200mm (4 ft) high x 2 metres 6 1/2 ft) wide) which is nailed to a pine frame to keep it from warping.  It is the 3rd scene I have painted on this particular panel.

Usually I use my paint frame which is 3mm ply panels, each 1200 x 2400 (4 ft x 8 ft), nailed and glued to a pine frame. Mine is pretty big -  there are 4 vertical panels, screwed together with bolts, so the total size is 2400 high x 4800 wide.  It is permanently screwed to the wall in my studio.

You can see it here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpeRCeiUwEU  )  But most of the time, a single 8 x 4 panel could be laid horizontally and that would be big enough for what you want.   I staple lightweight canvas onto the ply, prime with flat acrylic wall paint, and paint on that. The canvases can be removed and rolled up to save for later, and another put on.  Itcurrently has a painting on it I am not finished with, and some green screen fabric stapled over that that I will be using next week, so I am using this masonite panel instead.  Ply is better than masonite I think.  But an  8 x 4 ft sheet of 3mm ply and enough 2x1 pine for the framing would cost you well over $30. Canvas needs to be stapled to something before painting because it wants to shrink, but I have also used an old roller blind which was 7 ft wide, that someone was throwing out, and that can just be hung up and painted on.  Or laid on the floor and painted on.

The canvas came from a theatrical supplier, where you can get wide rolls, 10 ft wide or more, so you don't need to have a seam line.  But  4 ft roll from a fabric store, if they have that, would do for the size you want.  You can use calico, which is an off-white cotton, lighter weight than canvas.

The cave backdrop for this scene (  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcyunk_gezc    ) was painted on a large sheet of smooth card, which does't seem to have a problem with warping.  It does need support to put it behind the set, I just staple it to my paint frame.  

With a forest, a couple of tall model trees can hide the joins in the background if you find you need to add more backdrop to the sides.

Super cheap would be to use an old bed sheet, stretched on a frame.

Sounds like you want thin MDF, sometimes called masonite. 

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Hardboard-Tempered-Panel-Common-1-8-in-...

I am having great results using a chromakey blue background, stretched on a frame. This can be lit to look like a blue sky. Bought a 3m X 2m piece for about £25.

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