History of Green Screen Compositing

Published on Sep 25 2013 // Filmmaking, Visual Effects

Visual Effects in movies have been used ever since the beginning of Film Making. It started with one of the first filmmakers, Georges Méliès using compositing in his extraordinary movie – ‘Four Heads Are Better Than One‘, through to today’s modern day Digital Effects. The technique of Compositing has come a long way since it’s inception, with milestones in iconic movies like, The Great Train Robbery, Last Days of Pompeii, Ben Hur and Escape From New York.


The techniques were developed through the years by inventors like Frank Williams’ – Traveling Matte, used in groundbreaking movies like, Sunrise and The Invisible Man, followed by C. Dodge Dunning’s – Blue Screen, used in the 1933 B/W blockbuster, King Kong. Then came the first step in the direction of Effects in Color Films – Three Strip Technicolor Process developed by Special Effects Artist Lawrence Butler and was used in the Academy Award winning Thief of Bagdad and The Ten Commandments. Leading up to the revolutionary Sodium Vapor Process technology developed by Compositing mastermind Petro Vlahos used extensively by Disney Studios for one of their most beloved movie called Mary Poppins which also won an Academy Award for Best Special Effects. Finally with the advent of Digital Filmmaking, the Green Screen Technique has become the go to method for shooting Effects Shots in Movies.

In this very insightful video, JohnP. Hess from FilmmakerIQ takes us inside the history of the traveling mattes (now called chromakey) and dissects the history of visual trickery used by filmmakers from the earliest filmmakers through to the modern day. A must watch for all Visual Effects Artists and Aspirants, enjoy:

Author – Abhijit Roy, India

Source – FilmmakerIQ (http://filmmakeriq.com/)

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