Background Check – Staying Historically Accurate with Rosco Backdrops

For over twenty five years, Rosco Digital Imaging has been producing backdrops for movies, television and stage productions. During that time, they pioneered the technology to create state-of-the-art, digitally printed backdrops that provide the backgrounds seen behind the sets of productions on the small and big screen. The hit CSI franchise on CBS is the perfect example of how this technology is used. No matter which CSI you’re watching – New York, Miami or the original CSI that takes place in Las Vegas – they are all shot on sound stages in Los Angeles and use backdrops from Rosco to transport the viewer to scene of the crime.

An example of RDI’s award-winning Day/Night Backing.

The advancement of artwork manipulation and printing technology has been used by Rosco Digital Imaging to create new techniques that bring the viewer into the world of the production. RDI’s Day/Night Backings are backdrops that are exactly matched and printed on both sides – the day version of a scene on one side and the night version of the scene on the other – allowing filmmakers to easily transition from day scenes to night scenes by changing how the backdrop is lit. This Day/Night Backing technology was recognized with both an Engineering Emmy and an AMPAS Technical Achievement Award, making Rosco the only backings company ever acknowledged by either of the prestigious organizations – thus making history in the industry.

Not only have we been making history at Rosco Digital Imaging, but we’ve been re-creating it too. Starting in 1994 with Apollo 13, Rosco has produced a significant number of backings for productions set in period timelines. Recently, custom drops have been created for period sets on feature films like Sherlock Holmes and Mini-series such as HBO’s acclaimed John Adams.

Custom Period Backing Created for HBO’s John Adams.

But it’s the recent crop of television shows set throughout various time periods of the 20th century that have really been keeping us busy. The shows range from the 1920’s for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire and into the 1960’s for shows like NBC’s Playboy Club, ABC’s Pan Am and AMC’s Mad Men.

The customized 1960’s Manhattan skyline backdrop for “Mad Men.”

Rosco has been involved with Mad Men since the first season, producing a series of backings for Production Designer Dan Bishop and Art Director Chris Brown. It’s been a fun series to keep up with because as the address on Don’s business card changes – so do the backings behind the set.

The Mad Men set with Rosco’s time-altered Manhattan skyline in the background.

Each backing required meticulous attention to detail necessitating the removal of anachronistic buildings, satellite dishes, vehicles, and signage from from the original image to transport Mad Men’s Manhattan skyline back to the 1960’s.

Boardwalk Empire posed an entirely different set of challenges for Production Designer Bill Groom and Art Director Adam Scher. When producing the image for the backing outside agent Van Alden’s office, the number of buildings in the shot was relatively small, making the details of the background architecture more prominent.

Backdrop for Boardwalk Empire that transported their set into the 1920’s.

Pushing back ninety years into the past brings along whole new opportunities for historical errors. Although the houses themselves seemed appropriate, any architectural details added or changed in the past ninety years needed to be removed or restored, down to individual window frames, paint colors, and roof tiles.

Our attention to detail and our capability to manufacture fully customized background images are two reasons why production design teams working on period pieces choose Rosco Digital Imaging to create the historic backdrops on their set. If you’d like to learn more about our custom backdrop services or see our extensive catalog of rental backdrops for your next production – please visit www.roscodigital.com.

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Joel Svendsen

About Joel Svendsen

Content Marketing Manager: Joel's Rosco career began in Rosco's Hollywood office in 1999 – first in sales covering the Western US and the Los Angeles Film & Television market, and then as Product Manager for Rosco's Film & Television Products. In that time, his knowledge of Rosco's products and how they're used in each of our marketplaces makes him well suited for bringing the stories in Spectrum to life.

3 thoughts on “Background Check – Staying Historically Accurate with Rosco Backdrops

  1. I am watching the pilot episode of Mad Men and am trying to figure out the locations of the exteriors and the office background views for a local architecture website in Albany, NY.
    Seems that Don Draper’s office view is from the International Building at RocCenter, looking west towards Sixth Ave. and the RocCenter Time-Life/”XYZ” expansion buildings.
    The office interior is definitely NOT the International Building and features a ribbon window treatment that I.B.’s “masonry with holes” facade could not provide.

    Am I correct?

  2. Avatar Susan Lamontagne

    Hi,
    I am interested in a Bogo skyline for NY in the 40’s from the Brooklyn Navy yard as well as possibly a Coney Island from the 40’s. Can you help me find this in the images you already have. This is for a teen community production of ON THE TOWN.

    Thank you.

  3. Joel Svendsen Joel Svendsen

    Hello Susan, thanks for the comment.

    I’m afraid we don’t have any existing imagery that fits your needs. Most of the period backdrops we make are fully customized to individual production needs.

    Thanks for your interest in Rosco Backdrops.

    Joel

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