Cycloramas are commonplace in video production, and they make the lives of those shooting on a green screen that much easier. So what is a cyclorama? Let’s find out.

Defining the Cyc Wall

Using a cyclorama for your next shoot

A cyclorama isn’t as fun as it sounds. If you’re in production, it’s something you see all the time. Even if you’re not in production, you’ve probably seen it on commercials. Like this Levi commercial…

Cyc walls are used in everyday commercials

You see that white background behind the model, the wall used to isolate her so she was the center of attention, that’s it. But what actually is it.

Cyclorama Definition

What is a cyclorama?

A cyclorama, sometimes referred to as a cyc wall, is a curtain or wall background stretched tight in an arc, usually in the back of a stage set or theatre, to create the illusion of a sky.

It became popular in 19th-century German theatre, but a form of the method is still used today. It’s sometimes called a cyc background, cyc wall, or infinity wall. This walled background incorporates one or more curved surfaces. They’re used to make it look like there’s no end. All corners are seamless. If done well, it’s impossible to tell where the floor ends and the wall begins.

In still photography or video production, this helps make your background almost ‘disappear,’ leaving a ton of possibilities for lighting.

This is great for commercials, giving the products full attention, or when using a green screen.

Here’s an example on a set.

What is a Cyclorama - Cyclorama Definition - Example

Cycs walls on a set

Here's great example of how a simple cyclorama (with some post-production animation) can create one of the most popular music videos of all time. Bruno Mars' "That's What I Like" has over 1.5 billion views.

Cyc walls can be accented with lighting and animation

You can also read our next article on how to green screen like a pro! This is especially helpful for those interested in VFX. (And of course, we have yet another article entirely devoted to VFX, here.)

Up Next

Use a green screen like a pro

Cycloramas can give the perception that nothing exists behind the subject, often magnifying their presence. Filmmakers also use green screens with cyc walls so they can further manipulate the shot with special effects. Get the most out of both green screens and cycloramas with these essential tips. 

Up Next: Green screen pro-tips →
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  • Alyssa Maio is a screenwriter from New Jersey, now living in Los Angeles. She works as a copywriter here at StudioBinder.

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