Friday, September 12, 2014

The Art of the Green Screen

It had been another one of those days when I had nothing to do and I had visited every social media site that I bothered to subscribe to. Bored out of my mind, I decided that it might be somewhat interesting to browse the “recommended” section of youtube. And while I scrolled by videos of cute animals doing stupid things and shoddily put together videos meant to go viral, my eye caught something that looked different from the rest.

To be honest, I don’t remember what was the first video of theirs that started the addiction but I can say that they are one of the few youtubers that I still subscribe to. Their moniker is PistolShrimps and they’re a Norwegian duo whose most infamous works include them green screening themselves into popular movies. Mixed with their borderline offensive humor and somewhat dark spin on things, they've created videos that you really can't help but watch from beginning to end. They also have a cool range of special effect videos, but for the purpose of this blog I want to focus on their green screen work. This is because their feats at inserting themselves as if they were actually actors cast in the movie, is surprisingly well-done. In my book, they were (and still are) doing something right.

And for me, this was essentially all about the set-up of the lighting and (potential) color-grading of their shots. I think this is something that people who use a green screen often overlook and forget about when putting together a movie. But PistolShrimps seems to have gotten it down to an art. They’re able to center their light source almost identical to those actually set up in the film. And they keep in mind that not every shot is the same “color temperature.” Sometimes a shot will be blue and gritty, other times warm and sunny: but they take that all into consideration. Pair this with how expertly they’re able to subtly insert shadows and overlay their footage behind (on top, below, in front of) key objects in the shot, all works to really suspend a viewer’s disbelief that they are not in the film.

It’s a work of art itself, but it’s one that they’ve managed to get down to a dot. And with their witty editing techniques, they’re able to twist a story into something vastly different than it originally was. They not only insert themselves into a movie, they bring a whole new plot and point of view.

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