The art of green screen
Even before computer technology advanced, a special effect known as "green screen" was commonly used for TV weather forecasters. It's a visual trick that brings two images together that, in reality, are not.
In filmmaking the technical name for this now more sophisticated computer compositing process is called chroma key. Many directors of sci-fi and fantasy films use the technique, including director Peter Jackson in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. It helps to make scenes of varied and exaggerated scale -- inhabited by all those dwarves, elves, wizards and orcs -- seem more realistic.
As part of its Youth Media Program, Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts is offering a Saturday morning class called "Adventures in Green Screen" for imaginative youngsters. Students can create their own fantasy worlds, where they might have super strength, fly or perhaps meet space aliens -- just like in the movies.
The class for 8- to 10-year-olds includes drawing storyboards, building props, shooting scenes and using computer editing. The students will complete mini-projects where they learn to duplicate, shrink and otherwise manipulate props -- and even themselves. By the end they'll take home an original short video that encompasses all of the techniques they've learned.
The course is taught by local artist Christina Zaris, who creates video and animation. She also creates colorful kaleidoscope art and has an installation at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, where children make hands-on kaleidoscopes with abstract video images.
"Adventures in Green Screen" begins Jan. 19. To learn more about this or other art classes visit www.pittsburgharts.org.
-- By Jessica Futrell