The film and television industry is a highly creative realm. When a print service provider (PSP) decides to focus a large portion of business on this niche, they must be capable of producing almost anything imaginable.
Print providers such as Astek Inc. understand that staffing an in-house design team helps facilitate the creative process between art directors and production designers and leads to quality custom set designs. Astek’s on-site design team of ten works on achieving a specific design, color match, and sample processes directly with art directors or production design clients before heading into the final phase. The designer and client work together to find the most suitable substrate for the job; and once approved the shop brings the set to life.
Foot in the Door
In business since 1984, Astek boasts many years of experience creating wall and floor coverings for sets in the television and film industry. These types of print projects are now a main source of business for the shop, along with interior design and retail clients.
The PSP’s location in Van Nuys, CA is about 25 minutes from Los Angeles, CA—a city that supplies a steady stream of print jobs related to show business. From a 23,000 square foot building, 40 employees produce large format digital printing direct to substrate using a combination of Durst Image Technology LLC’s flatbed and roll-to-roll UV printers.
Astek began by offering an array of period-specific wallcoverings for certain films and TV shows. “It was, however, difficult to get the quantity needed since most period wallcoverings were out of production,” explains Aaron Kirsch, owner, Astek. “We hired a few talented graphic artists and invested in large format printers to expand the offering of custom digital wallcoverings,” he adds. The service allows art directors and set designers to achieve their vision and create authentic looking period sets that are unique and whimsical.
Stand Out from the Competition
One of the main challenges every print provider faces is how they can be better than their competition. Astek makes a point to provide top-notch customer service, which keeps clients returning and referring to others.
The PSP also remains up to date with technology and equipment in the industry to provide the latest trends and services. “We strive to offer a range of services under one roof. For example, our in-house design team keeps up to date with the latest trends in wallcovering and design by attending multiple design shows all over the world,” says Kirsch.
A versatile equipment lineup allows Astek to better meet the needs of film/television clientele. The shop acquires at least one new piece of printing or finishing equipment a year, which allows it to offer more services and keep ahead of the competition. “We are always looking for the next new big thing,” shares Kirsch.
The shop currently houses four Durst printers—two large format roll-to-roll and two flatbeds. Finishing equipment includes a large Zünd America, Inc. router as well as a newly acquired laser cutter. In addition, a Hewlett-Packard printer and a few Roland DGA Corporation vinyl cutters round out the shop’s capabilities.
Astek’s most used ink type is Durst UV-curable ink. “There are minimal volatile organic compounds, which makes it easier to offer an eco-friendly option,” shares Kirsch. “Substrates range from soft goods such as wallpaper, to rigid substrates such as MDF.” Because of the creative and imaginative nature of set production, Astek often prints on unique substrates such as glass, carpet, and even astro turf.
The PSP recently printed faux marble finishes for the floors and walls of the courtroom set for television program Harry’s Law. High-resolution photos were taken of real marble slabs, then printed on fabricated floorboards and rolled paper goods. Once the materials were installed, they were coated with a gloss finish; both protecting the print and giving the appearance of polished marble. “The goal of the art director was to achieve the most life-like marble appearance while avoiding the high cost of custom stone flooring,” explains Kirsch. The whole process from design to installation took just over two weeks.
A Custom Service
Digital printing allows PSPs like Astek to expand and build upon a solid client base. With faster and more versatile printing capabilities, the shop stays ahead of the competition and offers custom services in one place. PSPs capable of helping film and television set designers achieve their ultimate vision are called upon often