History of the Translight

In the past when you needed a backdrop for your production you would contact a paint studio that specializes in the production of large hand-painted backgrounds. Only a few of these companies exist today and some have held onto the old painted backgrounds, mainly for display purposes.

The use of painted backings significantly decreased in the mid-90s when large format photography increasingly became accepted and eventually surpassed the flexibility of the painted image background. At that time, digital photography was in its early stages and gave little comparison to the range of detail provided by high resolution drum scanners paired with large or medium format film negatives.

The negative of using a chromatrans or a duratrans background was that you could only light for either day or night at one time. The resolution was beautiful, but the practicality was lacking. Relying on rigging crews to switch out the day and night prints to accomplish the required storyline took time and additional money.

This method was performed rigorously for many decades by talented scenic artists, who would paint the day image on the front-side of a large muslin canvas and then do the same as a night image on the back of the canvas. Or, a blockout mask would be applied to reveal the night windows of a cityscape or the illuminated neon storefront of a boulevard, while keeping the other elements hidden from the backlight behind it.

Then the invention of the day to night translite came along: a day image on the front-side and a night image on the back. When lit from behind, the night image would reveal the windows and lamps as elements permitting light.

When these two technologies aligned—old painted scenery and new printable sizes—the result was the printed day to night translight, which was a big step in the right direction for anyone needing a drop for film or television.

This step forward allowed Set Designers and Art Departments to utilize high resolution print images that filled the need for a backdrop, without spending the time and expense required to create a painted backing.

Today multi-layered printing, along with high resolution photographs, can give a day to night translight a more realistic look than ever before.

The day to night translight is what Drop Shop Digital continues to perfect into a working background. New photographic panorama solutions can align day and night photographs with extreme detail.