Fritzsche has used the device to create background objects for the movie business, printing on a wide range of substrates from paper bags and leather to wood blanks and laptop covers.
“We’ve even had people bring us plastic garbage bags,” says Fritzsche. “It wasn’t a permanent thing—they were needed for a two-hour photoshoot, so we printed them.”
Creating visual illusions
Visual illusions are an integral part of cinematic art. When producing props, backgrounds, and set graphics, one needs
to find the best approach to achieve a certain ‘look’ quickly. For example, for The Man in the High Castle, Fritzsche produced
a highly realistic window graphic of a caboose, creating the illusion the train was parked right outside. He also printed faux billboard signs on Sintra and simply adhered them to a transport truck.
“It was faster than wrapping and worked just great,” he says.
Fritzsche also produced all the racetrack signage for The Art of Racing in the Rain in a similar fashion.
Many of the high-tech props and design elements used in the Lost in Space TV series were also digitally printed. For this, Fritzsche created a faux LED cockpit light with UV-printed graphics and assembled detailed computer ‘screens’ by printing white ink on 12.7-mm (0.5-in.) sheets of plexiglass.
For Bad Times at the El Royale, he created a vibrant floral wallpaper print using chrome-coloured Mylar foil media.
“Direct UV printing onto the substrate eliminates many steps in a typical process,” he explains. “We just set it and forget about
it. With our business, it’s all about time.”
He also produced prints for the film’s casino scenes, including wall signage and backlit graphics for the slot machines.
Fritzsche says, sometimes, he enjoys seeing his work destroyed on the set, as when the orange flooring tile graphics he UV-printed onto fireproof drywall material were sprayed and set ablaze by the film crew for a scene in Bad Times at the El Royale.
“We watched as the whole floor went up in flames,” he says. “It was pretty cool to see them test it first and then witness the final scene.”
According to Fritzsche, an added advantage of the hybrid flatbed printer is the UV inks provide an extra burst of colour for textile prints.
“Fabrics can come out with muted colours on a regular digital printer,” he says. “The UV inks are a game-changer.”
For the popular series The 100, Fritzsche printed vibrant fabric flags for a toy shop with the same equipment.
“Nothing else was punchy enough,” he says. “The UV colours really pop.”