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How To Make An Artful, Dynamic Backdrop With Kaos Substrate and Projection

See how we made the amazing Kaos projection screen backdrop for Heather Henson’s "Crane: On Earth, In Sky."

 

In the words of scenic designers Christopher and Justin Swader, the whimsical production, Crane: On Earth, In Sky, “follows the journey of whooping cranes along their migration cycle and celebrates indigenous cultures around the world that share a spiritual connection to these majestic birds.” The wordless production incorporates puppetry, dance, projections and kites. 

The artful backdrop used for the production, shown in the video above, was made of Kaos substrate. Kaos is a handmade material that has a wonderfully textured, random, and organic quality. Christopher and Justin described their backdrop as “inspired by the organic textures of trees and earth, fabrics of native tribal wear, and the image of webs interconnecting humanity with nature.” To make the backdrop come to life, they projected colored light and imagery onto the Kaos.

Kaos comes in varying thicknesses. Shown above is Kaos Heavy, FR

 

One of the challenges in making the backdrop was seaming Kaos into an extra-large single piece, given the vast amount of negative space within the substrate itself. After several seaming trials, the Rose Brand sewing team found that a modified lap seam worked best. It required laying one edge on top of another and top stitching through twice. 

The final backdrop consisted of two Kaos portals with circular cutouts. As Christopher and Justin explained, the portals “suggest the eye of a crane, but when activated with lighting and video, it could also evoke a landscape or sky and immediately shift the sense of perspective and place” throughout the performance.

The Kaos portals were framed by an arched portal made of black Encore velour, which was placed downstage of the Kaos and then attached to it with hook & loop fasteners. The dramatic display created an element of fascination, beauty and depth. 

Go to Rose Brand Custom Fabrication

Go to Kaos Substrate

 

Notable project credits for the production include…

IBEX Puppetry & Martian Entertainment
Director: Maija Garcia
Co-Created by Heather Henson & Ty Defoe
Scenic Designers: Christopher & Justin Swader
Costume Designer: Donna Zakowska
Lighting Designer: Zach Blane
Projection Designer: Kate Freer
Puppet Design: The Jim Henson Company
Sound Designer: Emma Wilk
Backdrop Painting: Cobalt Studios
Scenery Constructed by Mind the Gap