Friday, December 6, 2013

An Educational Video on Faking It

As many of us know, Hollywood's latest technique for visual effects has been to green screen as much as possible. It makes it much cheaper and easier to get the exact look the director is going for. In today's world it's a generally accepted technique that is used across the board.

But how did we get here? Someone did not all of a sudden realize we can replace a green curtain with pretty much anything we want. This advanced technology has only been prominently used in the last 40 or so years, and many other techniques were used before the green screen. So how did they do in old-fashioned classics like Mary Poppins?

Watching this film today we may just assume they used a green screen to film this scene. But it was actually something much more complex. Before green screen was so popular, there was a technique called the "sodium vapor process". Basically, the background was lit with a very specific shade a yellow that a special camera could pick up and then turn into a black matte. It's best explained with this picture:

The only tragic part about this was that there was only one camera in the world that was able to pick up this shade of yellow and it was owned by Disney. How did I come to learn about all of this? A few days ago I came across an awesome video that actually taught me a lot about the history of visual effects. It was made for a program called "Filmmaker IQ" which seems like yet another online resource to learn the ins and outs of filmmaking. I highly recommend watching this video all the way through (it's only 17 min). Take some time out of your day and learn about something interesting!

Here's the link to the entire lesson the video was made for:

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