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Days Before Chromakey

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by D'Snowth, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    A lot of visual effects done for puppetry nowadays are done with greenscreen/bluescreen/chromakey, in fact, chromakey is pretty much the norm for a lot of visual effects anymore because of how cheap it is... however, chomakey may be cost-cutting, but anymore, it also LOOKS cheap, even in big-budget movies, the use of chromakey is very noticable, that was one of the minor quibbles I had with The Muppets was the heavy reliance on chromakey for a lot of the visual effects and full-bodied puppetry.

    I know the use of chromakey was starting to see more practice back in the 60s and 70s, especially with more of the magical sitcoms like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, but I have been curious as to what kind of methods were utilized for some of the earlier Muppet effects, such as like full-bodied performances in GMC, before chromakey became the norm? I'm certain a few of those were achieved with remote-operated Muppets, but some of them you can tell were performed by hand.
  2. Walter Active Member

    Well, in live puppetry they often rely on paper backdrops with 3d elements, for example, a beach with an ocean cutaway that has a scrim behind it, and then a bright blue lighted sheet moving behind by puppeteers to give the illusion of movement..

    But on to muppet effects, things like holes in the wall, careful camera angeling, use of mirrors (for one famous kermit sketch) as well as holes in the seats(how they do talkshows nowadays) I believe it was in The Muppet Movie(correct me if I'm wrong!) where the shadow of Jim's arm is visible, depsite being obscured by camera angle..

    And who can forget the famous Bike riding scene, achieved using life-size marionetteson a moving suspended controller..

    And yeah, there were a few heavy blue screen scenes in the movie..most notably gonzo's falling scene.. But it wasn't all cheap, The whole scene in paris was done on blue screen and looked amazing! not to mention this effect:

    Bryan M and Gonzo's Hobbit like this.
  3. Frogpuppeteer Well-Known Member

    cant remember the proper term but i do know way back when and even today something they film on a black back ground while the performers wear all black then super impose the foreground and side backgrounds or just hide...like when Kermit Danced with Gene Kelly
  4. Gonzo's Hobbit Well-Known Member

    Yea, someone was telling me about that once. They were referencing "Labyrinth" with those starnge bird things. They were talking about how the puppeteers dressed in black velevet against a similar background. But, and forgive my ignorance, isn't that just the same basic principle as chroma key?

    Love the picture Walter.
  5. Walter Active Member

    Thanks :), And as for the black background.Yeah, it is kinda like chromakey..It sounds alot like Pepper's Ghost as well..
  6. charlie bird Member

    Hey folks,
    I know that the center for puppetry arts does the whole Czech Black puppetry illusion.Does annyone know how I could even attept to build this lighting rig.I am going to highschool next year,and I have built so many puppets and costumes for the highschool already.I just wish that I could pull of this lighting tenieque.
    anny advice would be great,
  7. Walter Active Member

    Hmm.. I'm not sure how to do it best..Do you live near the center? if so, You can go there and ask them..The staff I have seen there would be happy to answer all your questions :)
  8. D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    What about this: I remember when I took video production courses in middle school, we were able to use this kind of visual effect where on-camera, certain things could be "erased"... like for example, suppose you walk on camera, but everything below your neck is "erased", thus making it look like you're just a floating head? Anyone know whatI'm talking about, or what this technique is called?

    I think something like that could have some benefits, like maybe when shooting a puppet and a human together, and perhaps like the puppet is looking over the human's shoulder, but the puppeteer can't quite exactly completely hide him/herself.
  9. Gonzo's Hobbit Well-Known Member

    I don't know what that technique is called but it sounds wonderful. I could see a lot of applications for that which chroma key wouldn't be able to cover.
  10. charlie bird Member

    Well, I don't live too far away from the center. I am so happy that it is only an hour away. I heard that the center would be expanding their Jim Henson collection sometime in 2012...which might be the perfect excuse to visit! Also I know that a lot of places are kind of secretive on their effects...plus I'm 14 and no one takes me seriously until they see my puppet skills...hmm also the perfect time to show off a new puppet. I am a shy person, so I might as well try to email them prior to showing up. Thank you for the advice :)!
  11. Walter Active Member

    No Problem! I too have been awaiting the Jim Henson wing..I hope it hasn't been pushed back too far..:concern:
  12. Frogpuppeteer Well-Known Member

    i think i know what your talking about but if i remember right it wasnt so much a special effect as it was just "wiping away" between the person and the nothing scene..if that made sense...basically just a turn of the "nob" ( like we had in my class) you can "erase" certain parts even make a split screen...think you still had to be in front of some sort of green screen....or other brightly colored screen...and the background still put behind you
  13. D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Well, we achieved it with no greenscreen or bluescreen or anything of that nature, it was inside our little "studio", where for a short while, our production class toyed with a news program that broadcasted throughout the school, so our scenery was like that of a cheap-looking newsdesk and such (however, that idea was scrapped before we stuck with just voice-over DJs like myself and playing music while the visual aspect was a loop of school news and announcements and such).
  14. Alvin Active Member

    So I'm curious....what is the best way to do chromakey now days...I have tried it and failed every stinking time. What software do I use...any help would be so much appreciated.
  15. Frogpuppeteer Well-Known Member

    from what i've learned most programs do chroma key..i myself jump between adobe premier/after effects and final cut pro...but those range in high price....the main thing ive learned is that green/blue ( or any brightly colores) screen needs to be well lit or it wont work right i have examples in my own vides heres 2 for example

    recent Christmas vid proper lighting

    and one with really bad lighting that i had to try and fix...youll notice some of the chars disapear randomly show up and have parts missing

  16. Alvin Active Member

    Yeah...I've got that software...maybe lighting was my problem. I've just never been able to pull it off quite right...is there a certain kind of green or blue to use? and where did you get it?
  17. Frogpuppeteer Well-Known Member

    ive used so much in the past from from sheets, fleece blankets, going all the way to my school to use that green screen....they do sell official green and blue screen paint but its expensive as you can believe.

    personally i recently got the idea to use those poster boards most of us used as kids in school for projects...the 3 folding ones...i find them great since they are flat dont have to worry about shadow grooves.
  18. Alvin Active Member

    OK...might give that a try...open to anything...lol
  19. Gonzo's Hobbit Well-Known Member

    I'm no expert so someone elses opinion might supercede this but another thing a friend told me about Chroma key is that it's better if the surface is matte or something that will absorb the light more rather than something glossy that will reflect it. We were trying to do green screen at church off a wall that was painted that color and it was so shinky that if threw off the color a lot and we got a green highlight around everyone.
  20. Melonpool Member

    If you have access to a large flat panel monitor, you can usually get them to display a blue screen whenever there's no video inputs to them. They work great as an evenly-lit bluescreen.

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