August 3, 2007


The studio was founded by Eric Hanson and Greg Downing, both veterans in advanced photography and motion picture visual effects. Using digital techniques derived from feature film visual effects, images can be created at resolutions of up to 150,000 pixels wide, far surpassing any large format film standards used in photography and well beyond IMAX.

According to Hanson, the use of gigapixel imagery is far-ranging, from use in producing visual effects backgrounds in feature films, to aiding historic and natural interpretation in national parks. Taking gigapixel photography beyond academic research into a real production methodology and pipeline, xRez Studio provides location shooting expertise, efficient post production of images, and 3D animation derived from images. Virtual cinematography can be created within the image and integrating a hidden layer of 3D geometry of terrain and structures can be accomplished using visual effects 3D software.

Hanson, who is also the professor of visual effects at the USC School of Cinema/TV, has specialized in the creation of digital environments and effects for feature films. He has worked with leading effects houses such as Digital Domain, Sony Imageworks, Dream Quest Images and Walt Disney Feature Animation.

Downing specializes in image-based 3D technologies. His photographic work has been displayed in many of the nation's most prestigious museums, including the American Museum of Natural History, the Cincinnati Art Museum, and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He has worked in film production, integrating image-based technologies, and as a lighting technical director at Rhythm & Hues and Sony Imageworks.

xRez recently provided its services to Sassoon Film Design for a VFX shot on Tom Hank's Magnificent Desolation IMAX feature on the Apollo moon program. The studio re-created flying through a deep trench called the Hadley Rile, which was shot originally as a series of photographs taken by the Apollo 15 astronauts. A panoramic stitch of the images was made, then rigorous photogrammetry was employed to model the surface faithfully from the photographs. A layering of 24 matte paintings based on the photographs was then used to texture the canyon as the camera flew down its length.