Scenic Stage Flats
Scenic stage flats are an essential element in the creation of theater sets and scenic designs. They provide a backdrop and setting for dynamic and engaging productions, helping to transport the audience to different worlds and eras. Scenic stage flats are large, flat, lightweight pieces of scenery that are typically made of wood, canvas, muslin, or other materials. Basic wooden theatre and film/television flats are usually built in two styles: Traditional soft-covered flats (aka "Broadway-style") and hard-covered flats (aka "TV" or "Hollywood flats"). Both require special theatrical hardware to bind the frames together.
Soft Flats (aka "Broadway Style flats") are elements of scenery constructed from lightweight materials such as muslin, canvas, or sharkstooth scrim stretched over a lightweight wooden frame. The fabric can be glued, stapled or tacked to the wooden frame. Soft flats are easy to move and store, making them ideal for traveling productions and easy, light set changes.
Hard Flats (aka "Hollywood Flats") are elements of scenery constructed from a rigid material such as plywood or particleboard attached to a lightweight wooden frame. They are the most common type of flat and are often used as walls and large surfaces. Hard flats can be built with a variety of thicknesses depending on the desired effect. Hard flats tend to act like real walls. Broadway style stage flats are “framed flat,” which means the boards look like a picture frame. The front side of a flat is finished, while the back side usually has exposed framing. The corner joints require triangular pieces of plywood on the back side for bracing and to keep the corners square. A long narrow strip of plywood is installed in the center as bracing so that the flat does not collapse.
The corner braces are called corner blocks, and the center bracing is called "keystones" or "straps", depending on its shape. Special theatrical hardware is attached to the flats to allow them to be or flown in or out during a production.
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