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A duratrans is an element used in some television news sets and theater designs. Duratrans are most often used to create the backgrounds that appear behind news presenters or anchors. If it is used in a theatre the backgrounds would appear behind the actors, actresses, and other talent respectively. Duratrans is short for Durable Transparency.


Duratrans is a brand name of Kodak. Very often it is used as a generic term for backlit display prints. The generic term that for movie and TV backdrops that are lit from behind [1] is translites. Translites are normally from 15 to more than a hundred feet long and 12 –40 feet high. In most cases, translites are wider than they are tall. The translite image is printed or painted on a semi-transparent material such as polyester or a plastic sheet. This is then stretched perpendicular to the floor over an opening in the set's wall designed for this purpose. This would typically be a door, a window, or a series of windows. Duratrans are always lit from behind using lights mounted perpendicular to the floor in the space between the set and studio wall, making the background well-lit and with the appearance of depth.

Translites are created by printing photographic images or computer rendered images onto the material using large-format printers. Many existing translites [2] have been created by printing in a photographic darkroom by a mural enlarger projecting onto a strip of film up to 32 feet (9.8 m) wide. These pieces are assembled into the final size by seaming. A matte lacquer is added to dull the finish on the ones printed on polyester.

Common displayed images[edit]

The images featured on duratrans used on television news sets vary widely, but often include:

  • Photograph of the station's city skyline
  • Greenery or landscape scenes
  • Station logos [3]
  • Computer-generated images of a control room or newsroom [4]
  • Simulated set elements such as a computer generated image of a monitor wall [5]
  • Photograph of a control room or newsroom [6]
  • Abstract background designs

Image pertaining to a theatrical production[edit]

The images featured for feature motion pictures often include:

• Skyline photographs, such as the Osborne mansion view in Spider-Man 2 [7]
• Views across the road, such as Peter Parker's house front view in Spider-Man 2
• Views across the road in an upper storey, such as in Spider-Man [8]
• Views of a garden, such as Peter Parker's kitchen view in Spider-Man 2
• Views from a bedroom window, such as in Spider-Man 3 [9]

Moving Duratrans images[edit]

Some sets are designed with translites that are mounted on tracks or rigging that allow them to be quickly slid out of the way. This allows the background to be quickly changed for different times of the day or shows. For example, some stations have several translites that feature photographs of the city skyline with different lighting. For example, the translites used for morning news broadcasts will feature the city at sunrise, the noon news shows will feature broad daylight and evening news shows use a nightscape. This is advantageous because a station can change the appearance of its set without the expense of building additional sets.

Movable translites are usually stretched over a frame, which is then attached to the movable rigging or tracks. These tracks can carry the translite either vertically or horizontally. Unused translites are stored to the side or above the set when not in use, depending on this configuration. The rear lighting is normally stationary and does not move.

The origin of "Duratrans"[edit]

Duratrans is also the name of a common element used in tradeshow exhibits to display messaging in a backlit format. Duratrans material is manufactured by Kodak and is composed of a translucent plastic base and photographic emulsion. The current tradename from Kodak is Enduratrans.

The specific tradename for a background printed on Duratrans film by Pacific Studios, Inc. is Chromatrans. They printed these conventionally in the world's largest darkroom until 2007. They now produce them by a laser imaging printer.

While Duratrans may refer to a specific photographic process and product, it has also become a general reference to any backlit imagery whether produced photographically or by other digital process such as inkjet printing.

See also[edit]