Thoughts on A New Way to Do Green-Screen Graphics

Posted on by Larry

[This article was first published in the July, 2010, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe.]


At the end of July, the Director’s Guild of America held their annual “Digital Day,” a chance for directors to catch up on the latest industry happenings.

Since I’m a DGA member, I wanted to see some of the latest in high-end production technology, so I went.

Scott Billups did a fabulous presentation on the new trend of compositing finished effects during production — what he calls “Zero Post.” This allows directors and actors to see the actual environment the actors are working in while on set, which aids trying to convey a sense of space and emotion in a green-screen environment.

He went on to say: “Today, we can composite on set. Post-production and graphics houses need to start thinking about creating final designs in PRE-production, not POST-production.”

While this initially struck me as potentially taking business away from editors and post-production facilities, I realized this is actually a great new opportunity for us.

Since all these images need to be created, it really doesn’t matter if they are done before or after production. One of the benefits of doing them before production is that the deadline pressure is often less. Plus, once a director sees the final image, they can shape the actual shooting to better reflect the look of the scene.

Very few productions will accept the composite done during production as the “final version.” Instead, they’ll leave that to the editor to weave into the final edit. Except this time, eye lines, talent blocking, and acting are much more likely to match the image, which means we will spend more time editing and less time fudging to get all these elements to work together.

Finally, this new trend allows all of us another way to sell our services. If you can draw, you should be putting your name out there to create these images as part of the pre-production process.

If you can’t draw, you should put your name out there to handle all the on-set compositing issues. Nobody does editing better than an editor. Don’t leave this task to the nearest production assistant. You can do the job faster and better.

Besides, you deserve the money.

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