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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Red On The Set

When Epson wanted to photograph one of the world's rarest automobiles to test a new printer, they went to Stage 3 Productions in Detroit, where the staff knows how to generate maximum resolution

It's All In The Smallest Detail

All captures were done on a Sinarback 54HR, Sinar P2 camera with the SinarCamII and a 100mm Sinaron Digital HR lens. The 54HR uses an active thermoelectric cooling system to reduce the chip temperature to at least 20 degrees below ambient. This cooling system, coupled with the ability to create black reference files prior to every main capture, eliminates black level noise. The lack of this noise is mission critical to hold extreme shadow detail.

In addition to noiseless shadows, the 16-position micro-stepping captures incredible detail that no printer so far could hold, especially a printer over 60 inches wide. The 54H moves its CCD 16 times in one-half-pixel increments, right/down/left/up, in a square shape so that each pixel contains true versus interpolated color. At this resolution, each capture is a native 16-bit 510 MB file. By keeping the camera locked in place, selected captures can be overlaid later in perfect registration, allowing us to create a more sophisticated image than one lit for a single capture.

We then spent about two hours finding the best angle for the hero shot. We locked down the camera for several separate lighting setups for different areas of the car, from the interior to the wheels to the background to the headlight. Each lighting setup was captured at the highest 16-pass resolution. I knew we'd be in the gigabytes and employed Steinhardt's recommendation of the .psb file format designed for large file sizes (unlike .psd files, the .psb format is specific to the sorts of gargantuan file sizes we were creating).

Red On The Set Red On The Set Red On The Set Red On The Set

Red On The Set Red On The Set Red On The Set Red On The Set

Managing BIG Files

Step 1. We started with 24 gigabytes of captures! My colleagues and I sat down at the computer, stretched our arms in the air like we were getting ready for a long-distance run, and expanded the RAW selects into 16-bit, 510 MB Pro Photo RGB TIFF files.

Step 2. From the captures, we selected the following:

1. Hero main automobile image
2. Secondary accent lighting for addition to hero
3. Hero background image
4. Hero reflection image
5. Polished cement reflection
6. Marker light burn
7. Headlight burn
8. Tire tread
9. Seats

In Photoshop CS3, we started by making a path around the entire body of the car as the framework for all of the new layers.


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