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Backdrops -- front & center!


Richard Kimble
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http://hyperallergic.com/335835/art-of-hollywood-backdrop/

 

When backdrop painters were successful at their jobs, the filmgoing audience didn’t notice their work at all. From the 1930s, up to the emergence of CGI and higher quality photography, painted backings were an essential part of the cinema industry. However, the artists were barely credited, no matter how important their transformation of reality was to a film — whether a colossal painting that transported the viewer to an exotic locale or a fantastic mural for an entirely fictional realm. 

 

The Art of the Hollywood Backdrop by Karen L. Maness and Richard M. Isackes, out now from Regan Arts, is a visual compendium of over 300 images highlighting this unheralded history. “These special effect backings, the largest paintings ever created, were breathtaking in their artistic and technical virtuosity,” the authors write. They note that although the “majority of backings used today are digitally printed photographic enlargements,” the painted backdrop still remains a part of film, albeit in a reduced role: 

 

But, paradoxically, the painted image often looks more realistic than the photographic image. Scenic artists can manipulate backings by adjusting light, color, and texture, helping to support the movie camera’s constructed image. Some information and details can be selectively accentuated, while others can be deemphasized. A photograph, on the other hand, is static and has a tendency to contradict the artifice of the rest of the setting.

 

 

Black Narcissus, before and after:

 

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The Wizard of Oz:

 

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The Birds:

 

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Can anyone ID this film? Is it Gone With The Wind?

 

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for some reason the backdrops in the last photo make me think of a European setting.

 

Yeah slayton, I'm also thinking that that painting of the mansion is neither Tara or Twelve Oaks, and as far as I remember the only two plantations shown in GWTW.

 

(...yep, I think you're right about it being a European setting)

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Yeah slayton, I'm also thinking that that painting of the mansion is neither Tara or Twelve Oaks, and as far as I remember the only two plantations shown in GWTW.

 

(...yep, I think you're right about it being a European setting)

 

 

Your sage judgement has always impressed me.

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Your sage judgement has always impressed me.

 

 

Yeah, well, lets see what ya say about that if I'll happen to DISagree with ya sometime down the road, chum! ;)

 

(...although admittedly, that DOES seem a rare occurrence, doesn't it)

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