Backdrops are used in the field of theatre, films and photography since olden times. We have often watched scenes in a movie with hand painted backdrops. Locations that were not easily accessible in those times for shooting were recreated inside the studio. These backdrops were smartly designed and strategically placed to create an illusion of the original location where a particular scene was supposed to take place. Backdrops were more frequently used in theatres even before films came into being. We can find the use of exotic backdrops in many an exquisite and antique portrait and photograph. Even today, such backdrops are much in demand.
Backdrops usually start as a huge piece of muslin of high quality and medium weight. Muslin is a woven cotton fabric which first came into use in the 9th century. It is a fabric that can withstand weathering, hold dyes and colors well and can retain its good looks for a long time even after rough usage. These can easily be crumpled up and stored conveniently without worrying about it getting destroyed. To start with, a coating of flame retardant is put on the muslin, before hand-painting them. A muslin studio backdrop gets its final shape after being hemmed and sewn to avoid fraying.
Theatres have been using muslin backdrops ever since the fabric first came to be used. These are backdrops that are usually placed at the back of the stage to create a location or setting for a particular scene. The scenery painted or printed on it can be anything from that of an outdoor location or as an extension of a setting already created on the stage. A theatre backdrop often looks three dimensional for the way they are painted or printed. Today, theatre backdrops have come of age and have moved towards abstract art. They are used more to create queer moods and psychedelic perceptions rather than to present a realistic feel.
Nowadays, lavish parties and events use themed event backdrops to add to the spectacle. They are huge backdrops mostly hand painted. Exquisite pieces of art both classical and avantgarde find place in these backdrops. These are usually used in high profile theme events like fashion shows, corporate parties etc. They have a profound psychological impact on the guests and participants of such events and tend to bind all and sundry present at the venue in one string of imagination and mood
Muslin backdrops are widely used as photography backgrounds especially in professional photographic productions. More often than not, solid colored muslin fabric or one with a uniform but toned down design is used for the purpose. The subject takes his position in front of the background and expert usage of lighting is employed to achieve a professional photograph. In the olden times, people would save up money to get themselves clicked in front of these exquisite and uniform backgrounds and get a photograph that would be valued for ages. But now, with the advent of technology, and availability of easy-to-use digital cameras, the essence of this vintage way of photography is losing its way somewhat.