Like most people around the world, I awaken each day with dreams of having my own green-screen film set. People commonly have this dream, right? I’m the only one? Hmmm… well that would certainly explain why my top holiday wish-list item has garnered so many odd reactions? Anyway, I thought I’d take the economies-of-scale approach this week in building my own desktop green-screen set.
I suppose the inspiration comes from model railroad enthusiasts, who build realistic landscapes to scale for their trains by using things like lichen for trees and small, heavily contoured rocks for cliffs. I felt I could similarly create detailed small-scale desktop environments and shoot them up close so that, when images were later dragged into Photoshop and layered with other elements, the images would appear as realistic landscapes to scale with whatever else I dropped into the mix. As an overall sensibility already followed by many in the simple sizing and placement of image elements, I felt a desktop green-screen set had some real possibilities in creating fantastical landscapes with depth and weight.
For those unfamiliar with green-screen technique, it’s how filmmakers create images that would otherwise be difficult (if not impossible) to capture in real life. As an example: If a filmmaker shoots a model of a spaceship against a green screen, the green color is easily removed in post production, leaving the spaceship against a transparent background. (The same effect can be achieved through classic blue screen.) When that transparency is set against an image of stars, the final image looks like a shot of a ship in space.
I put my desktop set together for next to nothing using cardboard, tape and some snazzy Gay-Glo green Bristol board from Shoppers Drug Mart, and set the whole thing against a wall in the studio where there’s plenty of natural sunlight.
Though I’m quite certain I’ll one day soon have a regular-size green-screen set, I’ve long believed that there’s always a way to start down the path of any dream, even if that ultimate dream seems cost-prohibitive or even silly to others. So here’s to green, the color we celebrate this holiday season as the color of life, eternalness and its embodiment in everyone. Here’s to dreams and the dreamers, and the knowing that it’s all in the imagining.