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Skip to 0 minutes and 4 secondsHello, my name's Saint John Walker. I'm the course leader for VFX here at Norwich University of the Arts. No prize for guessing what this is behind me. It's a green screen, and green screen is the subject of this week's episode. Now there's a lot of mythology about green screen. People believe if you put an actor in front of it, press a button, and hey presto, they're transported to outer space or the Bahamas or wherever. But green screen's an art and a craft as much as a technology. We'll be showing you how to set up a green screen, how to light it, and how to make some great keys from it, with of course HitFilm and our friend Simon Jones.

Skip to 0 minutes and 40 secondsWe hope you create lots of great work this week. Look forward to seeing them. Bye.

Welcome to the world of Green Screen keying

Hello! Welcome to week 2! No prizes for guessing what’s behind me in the video above - even people who have no knowledge of filmmaking have seen images of figures acting in front of green screens. Of all the areas of VFX, it’s the most recognisable but also the most misunderstood.

Yes, of course green screen magically allows you to transport your foreground figure into another world, but whilst it’s easy to get a result, it’s often hard to get a convincing result, and as we’ll show, Green is not always the answer, and no matter how good your software expertise, if you can’t shoot your background correctly, you’re entering into a world of pain…

But don’t worry, we’re here to guide you through what’s called ‘Keying’ and all that entails. We’ll come across different ways to ‘key’ your subject and discover guerrilla filmmaker tips and techniques to help you get to grips with mattes, masks and keys. Green screen and blue screen keying are as much art and craft as technology, as you’ll see.

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This video is from the free online course:

Visual Effects for Guerrilla Filmmakers

Norwich University of the Arts (NUA)

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

  • Storyboards are only one way to communicate. Lets look at some VFX definitions.
    Visual effects or special effects?

    Like any creative subject it helps to share definitions about what things mean -this can be confusing for newcomers; it'll help us communicate better.

  • Tracking and layers: a gentle start
    Tracking and layers: a gentle start

    HitFilm guru Simon Jones shows us how to build a dramatic shot in HitFilm using layers of stock footage we provide on the course. Enjoy your 'comping'

  • The Blaine Brothers guide to using VFX
    The Blaine Brothers guide to using VFX

    The Blaine Brothers have a positive can-do attitude to VFX, and see it as a tool that should be used in the service of a story, not as decoration.

  • Still from Georges Méliès' "India Rubber Head" (1901)
    A short history of keying

    Keying isnt just a digital invention. From the early days of cinema in the 19th century film makers had used 'mattes' to amaze their audiences.

  • Insider tips on shooting green screen
    Insider tips on shooting green screen

    Justin Hunt, our long suffering director of photography for our HitFilm footage has years of experience of green screen to share with you here.

  • Cab Calloway (1932) Minnie the Moocher
    What is Rotoscoping?

    Rotoscoping is probably the most time-consuming of VFX techniques. It's often a last resort when you can't pull a key. Let's find out more about it.

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