Winter 2010

Case Study: Never Let Reality Get in the Way of a Great Backing

Production: The A-Team
Production Designer: Charles Wood
Supervising Art Director: Helen Jarvis
Product: Custom photo backing, 140’ x 36’

Challenge: This assignment had three core challenges:

  • Shoot custom backing while crucial production decisions were still being finalized and approved.
  • There was no direct access to offices on the desired floors.
  • Vancouver, BC, Canada had to look like Frankfurt, Germany

JC Backings’ Solution:

Hanging out. Images were shot using a 60-megapixel digital camera from a window washer’s platform, suspended from the roof of a 36-story building, approximately 450 feet in the air. Perspectives shot from the 33rd and 35th floors every hour between 8:30 am and 6 pm.

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Instant gratification. Using a laptop computer from the building’s rooftop, Pierre Steele assembled a rough-stitch panorama cropped to represent the final backing and emailed it to the client for immediate feedback and direction.

Flexibility is everything. JC Backings created a 180-degree view using 6 pan shots to give the client the greatest flexibility in positioning the backing.

Custom means custom. After reviewing the initial stitched image, the client decided that they wanted to reposition the hero building to the center of the backing. In order to achieve this, JC Backings used imagery from the periphery of the original shot, shifted existing buildings and rebuilt the skyline.

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Staying sharp. The unparalleled resolution of the 60-megapixel P65+ digital camera allowed JC Backings to crop in to the original image, effectively increasing the scale of all the elements and visually bringing the “hero” building closer.

The A-Team project proves why JC Backings is the preferred choice of more production, art and design professionals.

Tips and Tricks: Lighting a photo backing

Getting the most out of a photo backing is easy when some basic rules are followed:

Keep it balanced. Photo backings are designed to be backlit with either tungsten or fluorescent lights color balanced to 3200K. For light intensity, we recommend 400-foot candles for film and 300-foot candles for video.

Avoid hot spots. Light the photo backing with even, uniform lighting.

Avoid melting and/or burning through the backing. Tungsten light should be placed at least 8-feet from behind the backing; otherwise the light intensity can melt the backing or burn a hole through it. Fluorescent lights don’t produce as much heat as tungsten, so they can be positioned as close as 5’ behind the backing.

Click here to view more tips.

Backings Basics: What’s in a name?

Back in the day, there was only one type of backing: painted. With today’s digital technologies and advanced photo equipment, there are more options than ever to achieve the look you want for any production you’re working on.

Here’s a brief description of the types of backings available at JC Backings, and suggestions for how they may contribute to the look you want to achieve:

Painted backings are hand-painted on muslin using water-based paints. They can be lit for both day and night if opaqued on the back for backlighting.
Browse Painted Backings

Digital Print Vinyl
The digital print vinyl backings are printed using a 16’ wide printer that applies ink onto a vinyl substrate. (Picture a 6-ton version of your desktop printer). As you review the JC Backings catalog these codes will help you decide which type of digital print vinyl backings best meet your productions needs:

  • DPC=digital print combination. Day image on front, night image on back. Frontlit for day and backlit for night.
  • DPF=digital print frontlit with either a day or night image, light from the front.
  • DPB=digital print backlit with day or night image, light from the back.

Browse Digital Print Vinyl Backings

Photo backings are printed on backlit FujiTrans film or on frontlit Fujiflex film using a Durst Lambda and a Kreonite processor. Photo backings are also known as Chromatrans, Duratrans or Translite backings. JC Backings uses the letters “CT” or “FL” in front of the backing numbers to denote if it’s printed on backlit or frontlit film.
Browse Photo Backings


On Location: Pierre Steele’s Portfolio
Pierre Steele, JC Backings’ principal photographer, goes wherever clients need to capture the quintessential images necessary to bring a production to life. Here are a few examples of Pierre’s more recent photo shoots.

Green Hornet:
CT-756 & CT-757

Parks & Recreation:

Wheel of Fortune:
CT-754 and others in the grouping.

To view Pierre’s complete portfolio, click here

Credits: What’s New
With nearly 5,000 painted, photo and digital print vinyl backings, JC Backings offers the industry unparalleled choice when designing the look and feel of any production.

Here’s a sample of the most recent additions to our catalog:

It’s Complicated
PD: Jon Hutman
Click here to view the painted backings

Adele Music Video
D.N.A., Inc.
Check out the music video on
Contact JC Backings for more information and specific backing numbers.

Digital Print Vinyl
The Hangover
Las Vegas, NV
PD: Bill Brezski
AD: Andrew Cahn
Click here to view

True Blood
Malibu, CA & Mansfield, Louisiana
PD: Suzuki Ingerslev
AD: Cat Smith
Click here to view

Five Killers
Atlanta, Georgia
PD: Missy Stewart
AD: James Truesdale
Click here to view

The Sorcerer's Apprentice
New York, NY
PD: David Lazan
AD: David Swayze
Click here to view

To review the complete JC Backings catalog, click here.

JC Backings upgrades to a PhaseOne P65+ Digital Back
To offer its clients the very best in custom photography, JC Backings recently upgraded their Phase One P45+ digital back to Phase One’s newest flagship product, the P65+.

The P65+ offers the world’s first 645 sensor and true wide-angle performance with no distortion. JC Backings was one of the first in North America to use this state-of-the-art digital back. To see backings created with the P65+, click here.

Why JC Backings?
JC Backings specializes in oversize backings as well as creating custom backings to virtually any specification. Our highly trained personnel create painted, photo and digital print backings for feature films, television, commercials, theme parks, music videos and much more.

We offer the industry one of the largest selections of painted, photo and digital print backing inventories, with more than 5,000 rental backings available including historic stock from MGM, 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios and Walt Disney Studios. Our backings also meet or exceed industry standard flame proofing requirements.

(310) 244-5830