Behind the scenes "2084": A tribute to George Orwell´s novel 1984 by Kristina Varaksina

4/26/2015 ISO 1200 Magazine 0 Comments

The picture“2084”is a personal project, a part of my photo illustration series where I combine  photography with 3D graphics. The name of the image refers to year 2084, which is 100 years after the well-known 1984.

The story is about an average boy that lives in 2084. I wanted the image to have a dreamy feel to it, to  romanticize the future way of living surrounded by high tech objects, and to show that the future children will be no different from the ones from the past.

I started with a sketch, as I usually do. Then I sent my ideas to a production designer to see what we needed for the set and to a 3D artist to figure out what would be outside the window. I also did a  research on retro futurism, and sent my inspirations and the mood board to the both of them.

The lighting set up followed the idea the the boy is lit by the sunlight coming from the window. The  subject was backlit, so I needed other light sources to fill in the shadows and show important details.

The challenge was to mix natural and artificial light, but to keep overall sense of light in the picture as close to natural as possible.

I had a ProFoto Acute2 1200 power pack with 2 strobe heads connected to it. As you can see in the lighting scheme, one strobe is a strip soft box. I used that light to lighten up the head and the camera left side of the boy. The second strobe with a large soft box on it I used to bounce off of the ceiling and give a nice fill to the set overall. Power ratio was 1 to 2 between the first and the second head.

My camera settings were 1/60s, f/8, at ISO 250. I shot this with Canon 5D Mark III using my favorite portrait lens, Canon 85mm f/1.2. It gives a very crisp image with a really nice and smooth bokeh. I never worry about shooting at slower shutter speed, because I know I can rely on this lens, especially when my subject is standing still.

After color correcting and choosing a final crop in Capture One Pro, I exported the image to Adobe  Photoshop to work on details and to do compositing.

I started with getting rid of the original view outside the window. Then I retouched the model, by mostly getting rid of wrinkles on the clothes and evening out the color tones.

The usual tricky part about implementing 3D objects into a photograph is to match the light on them to the rest of the image. My 3D artist and I had to do several adjustments until we got it right. Finally
asked him to give me all the buildings on separate layers, so that I could move them according to the
window frame and the overall composition.

The 3D artist did a great job matching the direction of the sunlight on the city structures, my part was to add clouds, a bit of fog, sunlight in the air and the light reflection in the window to create a better sense of space and a more picturesque view.

I had to tweak the colors and exposure of every building. I made them into smart objects to apply different amounts of blur, to create the sense of depth and different distance from the camera, and to make the outside view look more realistic.

Shooting time, including the model's prep time and light testing: 1 hour. Retouching and compositing time, not including 3D modeling and communication time: 12 hours.


Kristina Varaksina
Rémy Trappier, 3D artist,
Espen Øydvin, Set designer,
Inna Mathews, Hair and Makeup artist,
Zachary Ho, Model