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Skip to 0 minutes and 10 secondsComing from a compositor's background, I'm very familiar with green screen and blue screen. And whenever I'm on set, visual tech supervising, I try to avoid green screen if I can, mainly because I know the setup time can be quite daunting. Because you have to light it correctly, and you've gotta make sure there's no fans blowing the green screen, and then got someone's hair in the clothes they're wearing. So, when I was making my short film SYNC, there was a scene where we had this bike. And the original plan was to shoot the guy speeding down a motorway with a bike and I'm out in back of the car filming it. It would have been brilliant.

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 secondsThe only problem is, the visor, the rider couldn't see anything. So that's health and safety. Always remember health and safety. It's mega-important when you're making a short film. The safety of your actors comes first. So, I was like, hey, we gotta shoot this on green screen. And the day that came when we went to shoot on the green screen in an exterior, because we wanted to use real-world lighting, my cinematographer for some reason forgot the portable green screen. And he lives miles away. So, OK, well, let's not panic. And that's something you've gotta keep calm. I was like, let's not panic.

Skip to 1 minute and 12 secondsSo, I looked around my surroundings and realised, we're in an exterior car park, and there's loads of plain walls. So, I just looked for the most cleanest wall, with sort of like a lightish grey, and you'll see in the footage, it was keyable. And because my SYNC was black, there's no hair, I could either rote it or do a really good luminance key. So, when I talked to my cinematographer and my gaffer, was-- let's overexpose and light for the wall and make it as bright as we can and I can key it. So, when you look at the shot, you'll think, that's a full CG shot, or it's a full visual effects shot. It's actually shot on a grey wall.

Skip to 1 minute and 49 secondsAnother thing also is Project Kronos. So, a lot of the interviews you'll see, and it looks like the scientist are sitting in NASA, that's shot in one of the actress's rooms. One the actresses, Georgina, she plays one of the scientists, that's in her-- pretty much her lounge. It's a small, white-- probably the size of this, just that. And there's like, vases and stuff, but I didn't care, because I knew, in visual effects, I can extend that. And I can key her, because she's got black hair. I made sure they weren't wearing white, they're wearing clothes that could be roto'd nicely. And again, you look at that, and you'll think that's green screen.

Skip to 2 minutes and 21 secondsOr, you'll think, did they shoot that in location? So, yes, a lot of people tend to think you need green screen. My big thing is, if you can key it, it doesn't matter what colour it is. If you get a good key, a good matte, that's all that matters.

HaZ on green screen

HaZ, as you’d expect from his background as a VFX Supervisor, has seen his fair share of big budget green and blue screen sets, and the problems they can throw up.

In his own work he’s had to be more inventive and creative. In this clip he recounts of a couple of instances where he needed to come up with creative solutions to particular keying challenges.

You can see Sync here, produced, written and directed by Hasraf ‘HaZ’ Dulull. You can see Project Kronos here, as well as links to more of HaZ’s work.

Next, we’ll look at a forgotten sci-fi film of the mid-2000’s that led the way in guerrilla BLUE screen technology….

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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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