You may have seen in the backgrounds of many of my pictures, but I haven't really talked much about it: The Green Screen.
For those of you who don't know, the green screen is the green fabric behind my dinosaur, Ray. Since the dawn of filmmaking, filmakers have attempted to increase the variation in the stories they told by means of special effect, not just to create fantastical creatures and vehicles, but to also take their person out of the studio and into another world, without ever leaving the studio. Most filmakers simply took their actors to obscure locations, or made artificial jungles and article wastes. But for those who didn't have the money, they used rear-projection, essentially the classic film version of filming your actors in front of a television, only with a projection screen and mirror. This is how King Kong fought dinosaurs as human cowered in their presence, and how Superman flew. Still, people sought more creative ways, such as the matte, using blackened areas of two different clips as a proto green screen to form a compostite shot, and Dynamation, Ray Harryhausen's technique, which is essiantally rear-projection in reverse as the dinosaur is animated frame-by frame along with the live-action background, to be dropped into the human world. Smart, really. This technique was used (in some cases stolen) to create most stop-motion monster movies of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, where the technique was perfected by animator Phil Tippett, who replaced the animation board with a wire brace, shook the model between shots to blur the movement, and created go-motion. All these different breeds of composite shot were used to varying degrees of perfection, from excellent to B-movie level. Eventually, the blue screen was developed, most prominently used in Star Wars. A hybrid of the matte and rear-projection with digital technology thrown in, the green screen has your actors act in front of a large blue screen, and later a computer fills in the green with the background. This evolved into the digital age as green screen, and everyone from George Lucas to amateur filmakers use green screen. You can put your actor in a car, and put a moving background behind him to simulate driving, animate your monster in front of a green screen to plop him into the real world, paint yourself green to become the invisible man, and all sorts of awesome techniques. But how do you do all this?
First, obviously, you need a green screen, which can be either a big green sheet, or green wall. As long as it's smooth and spreads past your camera's view, it's good.
Second, you need lighting. Light evens out the color recognition, without it, your green screen will look fizzy. I use a simple soft light, but if you want to get truly professional, use a real powerful light.
Third, you need a movie editing program that has green screen. It won't work without it. I suggest using FinalCut pro. It not only has green screen as an option, it works in more than one color, has a
range of options to a alter the way your characters interact with the world, and even erase
fizzles should they show up.
I hope this has given you insight into the world of green screen. Enjoy!