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Spring 2010

Case Study: 2D in a 3D World

Production: Avatar
Production Designers: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg
Supervising Art Directors: Todd Cherniawsky, Kevin Ishioka and Kim Sinclair
Art Directors: Norman Newberry and Stefan Dechant
Product: Custom photo backings from stock images

For Avatar’s Pandora, JC Backings worked with the production’s art department to manipulate 2D custom photo backings for insertion in Avatar’s 3D world.

The first step was to identify jungle images from JC Backings’ stock image library. Avatar’s digital artists used these images as a base for their insertion of alien plant life, structures and other scenic elements.

Avatar’s art department benefited by:

  • Resolution matching for optimal quality. The super high quality digital stock images helped establish the proper resolution for Avatar’s digital artists to work their magic.
  • Immediate troubleshooting and correction. JC Backings printed full-size test images so digital artists could correct—on the fly—any digital errors such as banding, masking artifacts, etc. View CT-684 and CT-685.
  • Saving time and money. Printing the custom backings and shipping them to New Zealand for use on the stage sets helped reduce the amount of blue/green screen shots required, which saved the production money.

Using Avatar’s 3D process, the 2D backings were brought to life by:

  • 3D objects placed in front of the backing. In the Hell's Gate Commissary set, 3D ships were inserted in front of the backing to create the illusion of depth to what is essentially a flat image. View CT-686.
  • Optimizing contained environments. The Control Center set was a contained environment. There weren’t a lot of tracking shots, so the backings needed to stand on their own. The exceptional level of detail on the photo backings helped sustain the 3D illusion. View CT-687. (CT-127 was the original backing)
  • Consistency matters. The production team built a 300-foot wide alien jungle set in New Zealand to create a ‘live’ Pandora environment. Photos of the set were matched to the photo backings to ensure optimal consistency between set and backing. View CT-698. (CT-127 was the original backing)

The result showed how 2D images can help create an award-winning 3D world.

On Location: Pierre Steele’s Portfolio
Pierre Steele, JC Backings’ principal photographer, goes wherever clients need to capture the quintessential images that help bring a production to life. Here’s some of Pierre’s more recent work.

Featured shoots

View Pierre's portfolio.

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:

PD: Stuart Wurtzel
AD: W. Steven Graham
View the painted backings

Digital Print Vinyl
Covert Affairs
Customized from stock image, turning day image into night
PD: Sandy Kybartis
View the digital print backings

True Love TV Pilot
(CT- 763 and CT-764)
Customized from stock images
PD: Steve Olson
View the photo backings

To review the complete JC Backings catalog, click here.

Tips and Tricks: Turning Day into Night

Every production is unique, but sometimes there isn’t time or budget to allow for a custom photo shoot. Knowing how to rework stock images or turning a day image into night can create a custom look to fit any production design.

Virtually any of JC Backing’s daytime photo stock images can be digitally manipulated into a night backing even if no night images exist. JC Backing’s images are of the highest possible quality and resolution and can be revised or cropped without losing the file integrity or degrading the image in any way.

Take, for example, how we used an original daytime image (CT-511) to create two new backings for the TV show “Pair of Kings”. First, the original image was cropped to the production’s specifications and then the image was digitally manipulated to create a stunning night image, complete with moonlit mountains and shimmering water.

View DPF-114 and DPF-115.

Click here to view more tips.