What's a Cyc and Do You Need a Cyc in Your TV Studio? 

By Greg Ball, President of Ball Media Innovations

You may have come across the term "cyc" or "cyclorama." But what exactly is a cyc, and do you need one for your TV studio?

At Ball Media Innovations, our crews create, design and build TV studios throughout the USA. Cycs are commonly included in these video production studios. So, if you're about to begin the process of designing and building a TV studio, you might want to consider including a cyc in your studio design.

In this article, I'll go into exactly:

  • What a cyclorama is
  • Why you might need a cyc
  • How cyc's are created and installed
  • How to use a cyc in your studio
  • How a cyclorama can elevate your production capabilities.

What is a Cyclorama (Cyc)?

At its core, a cyclorama, often abbreviated as "cyc," is a curved, seamless backdrop typically used in studios to create the illusion of an infinite, uninterrupted space.

This design element has been a staple in the entertainment industry for decades, but its applications have expanded well beyond Hollywood sound stages. Today, cycloramas are excellent tools for a wide range of content creators, from traditional broadcasters to corporate studios, and everything in between.

Why Do You Need a Cyclorama?

So, why might you need a cyc for your studio? Let's explore the key reasons why investing in a cyclorama can be a game-changer for your video production studio:

Cyclorama marketing studio shoot using lighting to create drama
Here's a cyclorama marketing studio shoot using lighting to create drama, with the focus on the model and her dress.

Seamless Infinity Look: A well-designed cyc creates the illusion of an endless horizon. This seamless background eliminates distracting corners and edges. It offers a clean and professional look. It can look slick and distraction free. It can enhance the overall visual appeal of whatever you're featuring in front of the cyc. That's because whatever you're putting in front of the cyc will be the entire focus. It's great for creating beauty shots, product shots, etc.

Versatile Backgrounds: One of the primary reasons to opt for a cyclorama is its versatility. With a cyc, you can easily switch between different backgrounds and settings, making it suitable for a variety of productions. Whether you're shooting a talk show, a music video, or a product demo, the cyc provides a blank canvas that adapts to your creative needs.

The background can be made any color through lights. Or, the cyc can be painted chroma key green so that you can use green screen backgrounds and effects. With that, the sky's the limit when it comes to using creative backgrounds.

Lighting Control: Cycloramas are known for their ability to control and manipulate lighting. The curved surface allows for even lighting distribution, reducing shadows and creating a uniform, well-lit environment. This lighting control is especially crucial for green screen and virtual set applications. It can also be used to create special effects using lighting such as in the photo above.

Flexibility in Design: Cycloramas come in various sizes and configurations. This ensures that there's an option that suits your studio space and creative vision. Whether you need a full wraparound cyc, a half-cyc, or a corner cyc, there's a solution that can meet your specific requirements.

Creating and Installing a Cyclorama

Now that we've discussed the importance of a cyc, let's take a closer look at how one is created and installed in your studio:

Design and Planning: The first step in creating a cyclorama is to plan its design and location within your studio space. At Ball Media Innovations, our crew considers factors such as your studio space, the size of the cyc you need, its curvature, and the type of materials you want to use. Our designers and engineers collaborate with our clients and their architects to come up with the optimal cyc.

Keep in mind that the flooring must be level. Recently we were tasked with building a large cyc for a corporate studio. Our team discovered that the studio floor was not level. We needed to bring in yards of sand to level the floor, so the edge of the cyc would lay flat.

Construction: Building a cyc involves constructing a curved backdrop typically made of materials like plaster, drywall, or fabric. The surface should be smooth and seamless to achieve the desired effect.

We build custom cycs in your studio
Our crew building a custom cyc in a TV studio.

Painting and Finishing: Once the construction is complete, the cyc is painted to create a uniform, matte surface. White is the most common color choice, but other colors can be used depending on your creative needs.

Lighting Setup: Proper lighting is critical to make the cyc work effectively. A combination of key lights, fill lights, and backlights is used to evenly illuminate the cyc and the acting talent or products, to eliminate shadows.

Maintenance: Regular maintenance is essential to ensure your cyc remains in optimal condition. This may include touch-up painting, cleaning, and lighting adjustments.

Using a Cyclorama

Now that your cyc is installed and ready, it's time to put it to use. Here are some ways you can leverage your cyclorama to enhance your video production:

Background Replacement: A cyc can serve as the perfect background for green screen and virtual set applications, allowing you to superimpose different environments behind your talent.

Product Showcases: Whether you're showcasing products or demonstrating how-to videos, a cyc offers a clean and distraction-free backdrop that keeps the focus on your subject.

Interviews and Talk Shows: The versatility of a cyclorama means you can create a variety of looks and settings for interviews and talk shows, enhancing the overall production quality.

Music Videos and Performances: Cycloramas are a popular choice for music videos and performances, providing a stage-like setting where creativity knows no bounds.

Cyclorama and bedroom set in studio designed and built by Ball Media
Cyclorama and bedroom set in studio designed and built by Ball Media

To sum up, if you're in the process of designing and building a TV studio, consider the numerous benefits of incorporating a cyclorama. Its versatility, seamless appearance, lighting control, and flexibility in design make it a valuable addition to any studio environment.

To ensure a successful cyclorama installation tailored to your needs, it's wise to collaborate with experienced professionals who specialize in studio design and construction.

At Ball Media Innovations, we understand the unique requirements of creating exceptional studio spaces. Our team of experts is committed to helping you achieve your creative vision. Whether you're a corporate client, a broadcast studio, a university, or anyone looking to elevate your video production game, a cyclorama could be the missing piece to take your content to the next level. Contact us today to explore the possibilities and bring your studio dreams to life.

Greg Ball, President of Ball Media - Studio designer & builder About the Author:

Greg Ball, is President of Ball Media Innovations, Inc. Greg worked as a video studio designer from the start of his career, and he's also worked for over 25 years as a corporate video production producer/director/editor. Having worked in both types of positions has given Greg the unique ability to design custom studios and sets that work efficiently and effectively for his clients.

Read more about our set design services, as well as our video production studio design, integration and building service here.