A Brief History of the Green Screen

When you think of the Green Screen, otherwise known as Chroma-Key, you are probably the most familiar with how the technology has assisted San Diego’s local weather legends to present the weekly forecasts. Stars such as Bob Dale, ‘Captain’ Mike Ambrose, John Coleman and Dave Scott would stand in front of a huge weather map and point to symbols (such as suns or clouds) that were hovering over different communities around San Diego. Using Chroma-Key technology, this green screen becomes the animated weather map that you see the weather person standing in front of:


Invented by Larry Butler in the 1940’s to assist with the creation of a scene in his movie The Thief of Bagdad, Chroma-Key uses digital technology to replace the green background with another source, such as a weather map. The key to this working properly is that the weather person cannot wear a similar color of the background screen, or this could happen:


You may be wondering how the weather people know what they are pointing at if all they see is a blank green screen. The answer to this is that they have a monitor off to the side that shows them in front of the digitally placed weather map, so they know where to point:


This Chroma-Key technology is not just used for weather forecasts, but it is also widely used with the creation of special effects used in Hollywood blockbusters such as Star Wars and The Martian. Since it is not practical to film a movie in space or on a distant planet, using the green screen comes in very handy when creating these environments:


Does it look as interesting without the Martian background applied? It is amazing how prevalent Chroma-Key technology is in the modern entertainment business, given that it was invented in 1940. If you are looking to use Chroma-Key technology in your next production, keep in mind that Pixel Productions has a dedicated pre-lit Green Screen dual walled Cyclorama Wall with cove that is available to rent. Please utilize the request form or call (858) 834-4301 to reserve the wall today!


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