Tuesday, April 8, 2014


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!

Kelston Hubler


So, on live action.

Frankly, it's very hard. You don't have complete, 100% control of your actors like you do in stop motion. For example, a couple hours ago I worked on some new shots, and my actor, Gavin, wouldn't stop giggling and didn't always do what I wanted for the shot (didn't mean it wasn't good footage, though. Gavin is still a good actor).

Today, I learned some things shooting live action. Here's what I learned:

1. You need to describe exactly what you want with your actors (unless it's a silent film, then you can be lazy and tell them as your filming). You don't have the same mind as your actor does, and he might have a different vision from you.

2. Your actors must memorize their lines. I already knew this, Gavin barely speaks at all in the film. But still, you can't just expect to give them long complex dialouge on the set them expect them to say it 20 seconds later. You need to write it down them let them practice. This will make your film seem much better.

3. Try to keep continuity. If you're shooting more than one day, try to keep your actors wearing the same wardrobe. Unless the film's shots shift in time between day 1 and day 2, it will look like they magically changed clothes. I made this mistake, when earlier in the movie Gavin's shirt changes from purple to yellow.

4. Try to keep authenticity. Unless the characters in your world live in the modern day, try to give them realistic wardrobes and sets. If they're spelunkers, give them climbing ropes and headlamps. If
they're victorians, give them steampunk-ish 18th century attire. If they're cavemen, give them fake fur

robes and rubber prosthetic foreheads. I know it's hard to get this kind of stuff, but you can ask family members, learn on websites how to make them yourself, or even search your attic for old clothing. For sets, try to look for good, realistic locations (Gavin was doing a castaway-style film for the silent film festival, so he was lucky to get his shots done on a vacation to Maui. Made
a fantastic film. I also did a silent film about Mothman, and luckily had a really creepy chicken shack, which helped the creepy factor). If not, use a green screen and green screen programs, and legally upload photos from the internet.

5. Be nice, but have a limit. You may want it to be perfect, but you just can't do that. Be nice to your actors, and accept their ideas. But if they give you the lip and complain, have a limit.

6. NEVER, EVER, EVER FILM, if your actors have the giggles.

They won't be able to function if they just laugh. Unless you want an impossibly long out takes reel full of the giggle fits of actors and curse words of directors, just don't film if they keep laughing.

So, any way, except for GIGGLING FITS (I told you), acting on set has been okay. Gavin had to survive by setting some mushrooms in the script, so I got some raw mushrooms from Mom, who's a cook. Gavin ate the mushrooms, then promptly ran into the bathroom to spit them up.

Antediluvian is currently going well and filming is almost complete!

Antediluvian, coming to a prehistoric, dinosaur-infested cave near you

Thursday, April 3, 2014


So, production on live action has begun, and finally moved to green screen! Dang, I thought Stop Motion was hard! I have troubles with actors, but so far, I'm doing good! Most outfits and locations are dead cheap, going to such exotic locations as the backyard forest, the green screen, and the bathroom with the lights turned off. Thankfully, my underground explorer, Rick (played by my brother Gavin), will look great, dressed in a thick jacket, head lamp, and rope, which I got from my Dad, who's a rock climber. Makes Gavin look like a real explorer! Gavin doesn't always agree with me on planning shots (we aren't terribly great at translating ideas, we both have are own visions) but I like what he's done before in my movies, so it should be great.

On the other hand, Hemmingway finally got her due as a model. She worked well, but she had trouble walking, so I simply had her leap away on an arial wire, which was cropped out in FinalCut pro. She looks great!

See ya later!

Kelston Hubler