press release


“You have to really seek the face of Jesus if you’re going to find it”

“Something extraordinary had happened here. Something beyond human reason”





Premieres Tuesday, March 30, 9-11pm ET/PT

New York, NY, March 18, 2010 – On Tuesday, MARCH 30, 9-11pm ET/PT, HISTORY™ will premiere a very special two-hour event, a quest no one has ever before attempted – come along for this thrilling journey as a team of graphic experts seeks to bring to life the image contained on the holy relic many believe to be Jesus’ shroud. Will the team’s work reveal THE REAL FACE OF JESUS? 

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For the devout and curious alike, this documentary feature may bring us the closest we have ever come to seeing what Jesus actually looked like.

Science and religion join together, bringing cutting-edge computer technology to an ancient stretch of fabric, and creating a living, moving 3D image of the man many believe to be Jesus Christ.

The starting point of this journey is an ancient 14-foot linen cloth known as the Shroud of Turin, believed by millions to be the burial shroud of Jesus Christ.  Imprinted on the fabric is a faint, ghostly image of a crucified man.  The question of whether this man is or is not Jesus has been debated for centuries.  But when 3D computer graphics artist Ray Downing decided to use today’s most sophisticated electronic tools and software to recreate the face of Jesus, the Shroud of Turin is the first place he turned.  

While there have been many documentaries about the shroud, most have centered on the shroud’s authenticity.  HISTORY’s THE REAL FACE OF JESUS? presents something very different: an attempt to reveal the image embedded in the fibers of the fabric, to turn the faint, unfocused, two-dimensional image into a living, moving, 3D creation – if they are successful, this may be the most accurate depiction ever made of the man many believe to be Jesus Christ. 

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HISTORY worked with CG artist Ray Downing of Studio Macbeth to attempt this reconstruction. Downing and his team are not strangers to CG resurrection - they brought back the person of Abraham Lincoln using CG reconstruction techniques for the Lincoln bicentennial.  However, in recreating Lincoln Downing had the luxury of working from over 100 photographs, while the Shroud of Turin is a single faint image on cloth, covered with blood, dirt, water stains, burn holes and other distortions.  

As the starting point for a 3D model of Jesus, the Shroud provides an amazing advantage: the image of the man is mysteriously encoded with three-dimensional information. An astonishing discovery was made in 1976, and a property no other painting or artwork has -- “The presence of 3D information encoded in a 2D image is quite unexpected, as well as unique,” says Downing. “It is as if there is an instruction set inside a picture for building a sculpture.” But can today’s technology and man’s skill in using it build this sculpture, resurrecting the man in the shroud for all to see?

The encoding of 3D information onto an ancient piece of cloth has fascinated believers and skeptics alike, not least among them John Jackson, a professor of Physics at the University of Colorado. In 1978, Jackson led a team of American scientists which was given exclusive access to the cloth for five days of intensive scientific examination. Jackson has continued his analysis of that data until the present time.  In late 2009, Downing and HISTORY traveled to Jackson’s Turin Shroud Center in Colorado to learn more about the science of the cloth from the man who has studied it first-hand.  But despite decades of intense scientific investigation, the mechanism underlying the mysterious encoding of this three dimensional data within the Shroud remains elusive. Against the background of Shroud history and information, HISTORY’s team is seen grappling with the faint Shroud image to wrestle out the hidden face within.

Coaxing the image from the cloth proves to be no easy task.   After months of work, a breakthrough: Downing focuses on the fact that the cloth would have been wrapped around the face of the man buried beneath. (The Mona Lisa would look quite different if DaVinci’s canvas had been wrapped around his model’s head.) In THE REAL FACE OF JESUS? Downing is able to account for that distortion in the image and remove it, leaving an accurate, undistorted, never-before-seen, moving 3D portrait of the image presented on the Shroud of Turin.

Finally, HISTORY is ready to present to viewers a face both hidden and preserved in time. But for Downing, there are two stories here. “There is the story of the Shroud which, artistically and scientifically, is the story of a transition from two dimensional to three dimensional. But there is as well the story of the man in the Shroud, and a record of His transformation from death to life”, Downing observes, “The two stories are intertwined, they seem to be one and the same”.

Permanently stored and out of public view, this year The Shroud of Turin will have its first public exhibition in 10 years. Between April 10 and May 23, 2010, millions of people from all over the world are expected to visit it at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. According to the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI plans to visit the Shroud on May 2, 2010.

THE REAL FACE OF JESUS is produced by Left/Right in conjunction with Studio Macbeth for HISTORY. Executive Producer is Ken Druckerman, co-Producer is Ray Downing. HISTORY Executive Producer is Carl H. Lindahl.

HISTORY™ and HISTORY HD™ are the leading destinations for revealing, award-winning original non-fiction series and event-driven specials that connect history with viewers in an informative, immersive and entertaining manner across multiple platforms. Programming covers a diverse variety of historical genres ranging from military history to contemporary history, technology to natural history, as well as science, archaeology and pop culture. Among the network's program offerings are hit series such as Ax Men, Battle 360, How The Earth Was Made, Ice Road Truckers, Pawn Stars and The Universe, as well as acclaimed specials including 102 Minutes That Changed America, 1968 with Tom Brokaw, King, Life After People, Nostradamus: 2012, Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed and WWII in HD. HISTORY has earned four Peabody Awards, seven Primetime Emmy® Awards, 12 News & Documentary Emmy® Awards and received the prestigious Governor's Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the network's Save Our History® campaign dedicated to historic preservation and history education. Take a Veteran to School Day is the network's latest initiative connecting America's schools and communities with veterans from all wars. The HISTORY web site, located at, is the definitive historical online source that delivers entertaining and informative content featuring broadband video, interactive timelines, maps, games, podcasts and more.


PRESS CONTACTS: Vicky Kahn HISTORY     212-210-9743


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