Why Your Mobile Setup Needs a Backdrop

Posted on October 31, 2012 by webmaster

-written by Brett Allen

A few years ago, my band was featured in an article titled, “7 Things That Separate a Good Band from a Great One.” Granted, it sounds like something out of Cosmopolitan magazine, but it ran in a music magazine based in Chicago. Surprisingly, none of the seven problems had to do with sound, but centered on stage presence, lighting and ambience. Let’s face it, most establishments don’t have a stage and they tend to throw DJs and bands into a dark corner. I’ve even played in bars where patrons have to walk through the band to get to the bathroom.

The article offered a great suggestion for any type of mobile performer: bring a backdrop to hang behind your performance area. Better yet, have your DJ or band name on it. A backdrop has a twofold effect: it covers up all the crap on the walls behind you and offers a neutral background. The name of the game is marketing — every picture taken will feature your name instead of a bar sign or picture in the background. With a quick crop that great action shot is Facebook ready.

Let’s face it, a mottled gray background, while a great idea, is boring. So I started using CHAUVET® DJ COLORstrip wash lights behind the backdrop. I wanted a lightweight backdrop that allowed light to shine through, so I built my backdrops out of bed sheets. Originally, I placed two COLORstrip wash lights behind the sheet and set them in master/slave mode. I was immediately blinded. Seriously, the COLORstrip is a bright fixture. Don’t believe me? Go to YouTube and type in “COLORstrip” and “birthday party.” You will find a video where the DJ is only using two COLORstrip fixtures to wash the whole area in color. To correct the blinding effect, I mounted both fixtures on the floor and positioned them straight up, which gave the hazy effect I was looking for.

My old mobile DJ booth was made out of clear Plexiglas® and had my name etched into it. I ran four PARs behind it (two in the front and one on each side) to create a glow. Fast forward 10 years and I could have had the same effect, but better, by vertically mounting CHAUVET® DJ COLORstrip Mini wash lights. They are half the size of COLORstrip and work great for smaller areas. A band in town mounts them to their speakers for extra light. I just want to figure out how to mount a COLORstrip Mini to an oscillating tower fan…minus the fan.

Still not sure about backlighting? Jump on YouTube and search for “COLORstrip” and “DJ façade.” After watching some of these videos, I may dump my sheets and build a new backdrop. In the meantime, I am trying to figure out how to make an oscillating, DMX-controlled COLORstrip Mini and probably void my warranty.