The terms “cyclorama,” “scrim,” and “backdrop” are often used interchangeably, so it can get confusing to understand what each term really refers to in the theatre.


A Cyclorama (or “cyc”) refers to a white or natural seamless flat muslin panel. It is always the piece that is hung furthest upstage (aka at the very back of the stage) and is used in a variety of ways, including traditional stage lighting (often through front lit projection).

Understanding Cyc


A Scrim is made from a specific type of netting called Sharkstooth Scrim. Depending on lighting techniques used, its appearance varies from opaque to translucent. It is nearly always seamless and can be hung in various locations on stage.

Understanding Scrim

A Painter’s Backdrop is a white or natural flat muslin panel (seamed or seamless) that is used in various locations onstage to help create the scene. Often the scene is painted on (hence the name) – either by the stage crew or by a professional scenic painter. Other times, the scene is projected onto the painter’s backdrop. (Ziggy Marley)

A Scenic Painted Backdrop starts out as a regular stage backdrop or painter’s backdrop but is hand-painted by an artist at the time of manufacture, according to artwork supplied by the customer. Scenic artists use a variety of techniques and paints to achieve just the right look as desired by the customer, will apply all the necessary flame-retardant chemicals and will provide a Certificate of Flame Retardancy for the completed piece. With this option, the customer receives a “turnkey” piece without needing to find an artist or worry about applying flame retardant chemicals. (Rod Stewart some guys have all the luck)

A Scenic Digital Backdrop is a backdrop in which the image is digitally printed onto fabric, vinyl, or mesh utilizing a grand format digital printer. Depending on the size of the backdrop, the entire image may be printed on a single piece of printable material (thereby creating a seamless backdrop), or the image may be split into sections, with each section printed onto the material, and then the printed sections sewn together to make a larger backdrop. Depending on the material chosen, the backdrop may be inherently flame retardant (such as with vinyl) or may be topically treated after printing to make the backdrop flame retardant.(Little Big Town birds)

And ”backdrop”? Well, it is just a generic term for something (usually a drape of some sort) that is behind something else – such as behind the orchestra at the Philharmonic or behind the President during a press conference. It could be muslin, it could be velour, it could be another material. It could be painted or digitally printed. It could be flat, it could be pleated. Pretty much, the sky’s the limit.