Cyc Fabric Options
“I know that cycs come in all cotton and also a poly blend. Which do you suggest? How much would this cost? We are looking to replace our damaged cyc.”
RP Screen: This is the best looking, most versatile, and also most expensive option. It is a vinyl material so it falls into the IFR (Inherently Flame Retardant) category. It also can work as a front/rear projection surface. The downside is that it is very expensive. And, with the RP screen option, you will also need a second cyc/bounce to bounce the light off. RP screens can also never be stored for more than a few days as folding creates creases that will become permanent, destroying its usefulness.
FIlled Leno: For a traditional cyc, filled Leno lights and looks the very best. With filled Leno, you can achieve a similar depth of field as you can with an RP screen if you use more fixtures. Leno is significantly less susceptible to tears and tends to hold FR treatment much better than cotton muslin. It is also more opaque, so there is less likelihood of seeing anything behind it. One downside to Leno is that it isn’t permanently flame retardant like the IFR options. That said, Leno does hold FR treatment really well; it is rare for it fail an NFPA 705 test, even if the cyc is falling apart with age. Another downside is that Leno is not as easy to clean as IFR fabrics. Whereas IFR fabrics can be wiped clean with a damp sponge, water will damage FR cotton Leno. However, dry cleaning fluid can work well for spot cleaning Leno with no damage.
IFR Synthetic Muslin, Seamless: Much to our unease, this fabric tends to be a popular option. Cost-wise, it is only slightly more expensive than the corresponding FR cotton version. Customers are frequently disappointed with the fabric once they get it. It seems to have all the good things of IFR – clean-ability, durability, permanently FR, etc., but it tends to hold wrinkles for a really long time and the fabric does not lay as flat as we typically want a cyc to lay. The widest width of the fabric is 20’4″, (max height of a seamless cyc is approximately 19’6″). There used to be a 30+’ version, but significant problems with the fabric caused it to be discontinued.
FR Cotton Muslin, Seamless: This is the general purpose cyc fabric. It is less expensive than Leno, but does not light as well and is far less durable. It is available in white (most common), sky blue, grey, and natural. Blue & grey are design choices. Natural is an economy option. It does not light as well but is the least expensive.
IFR Synthetic Muslin, Seamed: This is a really good product and makes a nice cyc for really small venues and places where seams are acceptable. It does not have the same wrinkle problems as the wider width. In fact, it hardly wrinkles at all. It has a slight sheen and comes in a variety of colors. It is easily spot cleaned with water and can usually be machine washed without damage. If pleated, it can make a nice cyc that looks acceptable unlit.
FR Cotton Muslin, Seamed: This is the cheap “we just need something up there” version. This fabric is typically what is used behind an RP Screen cyc as a bounce, since the audience will never see it.
We hope this helps you figure out your many cyc fabric options and considerations. Every theatre is different and has different needs and budgets, all of which must be considered when choosing an optimal cyc fabric. Call us at 1-800-372-3373 for more questions about seamless goods and cycs.