So, you are considering purchasing a custom digitally printed backdrop for a music tour, school production, trade show booth, or special event, but you aren’t sure what the process or options are, or what will work best for your needs.  In a nutshell, you feel as if you don’t even know what you don’t know.

Not to worry! To get you started, below is information on several factors for you to consider prior to contacting us for a quotation.

How Will You Use the Backdrop?

The first thing to consider is how the backdrop will be used, as this will affect which fabric substrate will work best.  Is stage lighting a consideration and, if so, will the backdrop be frontlit or backlit?  Will you be using the backdrop indoors or outdoors?  Do you want it opaque or sheer? Do you plan to use it as a kabuki?  Are you planning to project on it?

What Size Backdrop Do You Need?

You may already know what size backdrop you need. If not, here are some basic guidelines:

Trade Show Booths – standard single booths (using traditional pipe and base hardware) would typically accommodate a backdrop of 10’ h x 10’ w.

LED lights were added to this digital backdrop at this custom booth for J. Berry Nursery

Special Event – the size for special event backdrops varies greatly depending on how the backdrop will be used at the event, but one common use, as a “photo op” backdrop, would typically be around 8’ h x 8’ w to 10’ h x 10’ w.

Digitally printed signage and banners at the Great American Food & Music Festival

Music Performance (Small Clubs) – the size really depends on each club’s space, but could potentially range from a 3’ h x 6’ w banner to an 8’ h x 10’ (or larger) backdrop. Another item to consider when deciding on a banner / backdrop size is how easily the backdrop can be transported from gig to gig and stored in between gigs.

This 12′ h x 16′ w backdrop, featuring a digitally printed logo appliqued onto Black Encore, is perfect for local band Oui’ 3 to use for club gigs

Music Tour (Small Theatres) – typically can accommodate backdrops and stage curtains in the range of 24’ h x 40’ w or so

Made for Sheryl Crow’s 2010 tour, this gorgeous backdrop is 24’h x 48’w

Music Tour (Large Theatres and Arenas) – typically can accommodate backdrops and stage curtains of at least 30’ h x 60’ w, and often even larger

Just one of the many huge digital printed braille backdrops we’ve made for Kenny Chesney, all around 40′ h x 75′ w

Keep in mind that the size of the backdrop (and the size of the printer) generally determines if the backdrop will be seamless or have seams. As many Grand Format digital printers are (approximately) 10 feet wide, then any backdrop that is 10’ h x 10’ w (or smaller) would typically be seamless, while larger backdrops would typically have vertical seams.

How is this done? Only one artwork file is required. The digital printer can be set to “tile” the artwork image so that portions of the image are printed on 10 foot wide sections. After all sections are printed, the sections are laid side by side, the patterns are matched, and the seam is pinned for sewing. Are seams an issue? Not usually. With good pattern matching and skilled sewing, in most cases, the seams aren’t really noticeable, especially from a distance (such as when on stage).

What About Artwork?

The custom digital backdrops that we produce are based on print-ready artwork provided by the customer (though we do offer limited graphic services to assist in preparing or repairing your file).  You may create the image yourself, you may utilize the services of a commercial artist or graphic designer, or you may purchase the image from a stock image source (there are a number on the Internet).  Keep in mind that, due to copyright laws, you must be the copyright owner (or have permission from the copyright owner) to print an image.

Typically, you will be asked to provide the artwork to Sew What? in a digital file.  At Sew What, we work with Windows PC-based files only (rather than Mac files), and we prefer that files be saved as an EPS or a PSD file, as we work primarily in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop.  All files should be in layers, in CMYK color mode.  We can also work with Vector art that is delivered as an EPS or .AI file.  Files may be delivered in a variety of methods, including Dropbox, floppy disk, Zip disk, CD/DVD, or e-mail, depending on the size of the file.  More detailed information may be found in our File Preparation Guidelines.

These considerations are just a starting point, but will be of great help when you take the next step toward purchasing a custom digital backdrop. Don’t worry if you don’t have it all figured out – just give us a call or complete our online inquiry form, and we will be happy to assist you in the process.