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HaZ on green screen

The irrepressible HaZ Dulull tells us about his experiences with keying- both 'textbook' and unorthodox
Coming 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.
The 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.
So, 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.
Another 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.
Or, 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, 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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Visual Effects for Guerrilla Filmmakers

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