Green Screen Photos That Will Change Movies And TV For You Forever
1 Space Jam
In the classic movie Space Jam, Michael Jordan teams up with the Looney Tunes characters to win an important game of basketball against the criminal alien group, the Nerdlucks. To allow the real Michael Jordan to interact with the animated Looney Tunes characters, Space Jam relied heavily on green screens.
In the final cut of this scene in the film, Michael Jordan talks closely with Bugs Bunny. But in reality, Michael was chatting with a real human covered in a green-screen suit. After filming was done, the special effects team transformed that person into the lovable Bugs Bunny. While it looks magical in the movie, the reality of talking to a man covered in green fabric must have made for a few awkward moments while filming.
Part of the appeal of Titanic, besides the beautiful love story, is the gorgeous look and feel of the film. While watching the characters on the unsinkable ship, the audience can also take in the surrounding ocean waters that seem to stretch on for miles. However, the filming of the movie was far less magical than the final product.
In the classic “Jack, I’m flying” scene, Rose and Jack were nowhere near the bow of a massive ship watching the sunset over the water. Instead, they stood on a fake rail against a green screen backdrop and brought the moment to life with only the power of their imagination. While the final product looks unmistakably stunning, the real-life counterpart of this scene is pretty unimpressive.
3 The Matrix
The Matrix is full of all kinds of impressive stunts that bring the storyline of the movie to life. As a rebel who knows the truth of the simulated reality, Neo has special, superhero-esque powers. Unfortunately, the computers he fights against also have those powers, resulting in some truly incredible action scenes. Of course, those powers were brought to life using a green screen.
All of Neo’s impressive moves, including fighting his enemies mid-air and even ducking under bullets, were brought to life with a green screen. While the final cut of this scene shows Neo wielding a gun as he floats in the air, the real-life version shows Neo and his counterpart suspended from wires that were later removed in the editing process. In fact, the entire background of this scene was created using a green screen, meaning the actors didn’t have much to look at for inspiration while trying to bring their characters to life.
4 The Lord of the Rings
In some films, entire characters were created using the power of special effects. This is especially true in The Lord of the Rings film series, which features several non-human personalities that required special effects to create their intriguing forms. However, before the power of computers allowed the crew to create characters from scratch, many movies started with a human form that was later altered in the editing process.
Gollum, for example, started as a human in a special effects suit. In this case, the suit was blue. The man playing Gollum had to crouch and hunch over to create his signature form. In other words, he looked pretty funny on set. But the funny man in the suit was transformed into Gollum, a recognizable character who looks chillingly real, despite his non-human form.
5 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
While green screens are synonymous with special effects, they’re not the only color used while filming. In the case of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a blue screen was used to bring Harry Potter’s flying broomstick to life. While special effects are a necessary part of every Harry Potter film, this green screen photo shows that Harry’s actual flying is mostly just a chance to sit and rest his feet.
While filming, Harry sits on a broomstick positioned against a blue screen and changes the position of his body and his facial expressions to bring the action in the script to life. Once filming is done, the production team adds special effects that make it seem as though Harry is zooming through the air. In reality, he’s basically sitting in one position for all of those flying broomstick scenes.
6 Beauty and the Beast
Recently, Disney turned its attention to giving its many classic animated films a new life with live-action versions of the movies. In the case of Beauty and the Beast, however, a live-action film presented a unique challenge. Namely, the crew had to bring the Beast to life in a form that didn’t look animated, but also looked just as imposing as the original, animated character.
In order to effectively show off Belle’s love story with the Beast, the filmmakers turned to the green screen. As in the case of characters like Gollum, the man who played the beast was fitted with a special costume. This one was gray and included plenty of padding to mimic the Beast’s imposing figure. In addition, the actor had to wear unique stilts on his feet to increase his height in comparison to Belle. Then, the filmmakers added the special effects that transformed the oddly dressed man into the fur-covered Beast. With the ridiculous look of that initial costume, however, it’s amazing that Belle was able to keep a straight face while filming.
Superman movies have been around for decades. When Superman flies on screen, it looks effortless. He puts his hands out in front of him and soars through the air, with blue sky and bad guys both disappearing behind him. But the process that goes into making Superman fly is actually very complicated. As the above photo shows, Superman is first suspended in the air by many wires on a green screen stage. Then, multiple cameras, also covered in green screen material, are used to capture the hero from multiple angles. As if that weren’t enough, there are also people in the background that control Superman’s cape, making it look like air is billowing through the fabric.
Once filmmakers capture shots of Superman on the green screen, they can put whatever they want in the background. For example, this shot from Superman Returns shows the hero flying away from an explosion. The complicated set-up may be time consuming and awkward, but it allows the filmmakers to bring the hero to life.
8 Game Of Thrones
Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons are perhaps the most impressive part of Game of Thrones. In a TV series full of jaw-dropping special effects, the dragons stand out as a magnificent testament to the talent of the show’s creators. But before all the special effects are added, the dragons are nothing more than a stuffed green screen pillow.
In the post-production process, Daenerys’ dragons are transformed from little stuffed animals into magnificent beasts. However, seeing what the dragons initially look like perhaps explains why Daenerys is able to convey such affection for her “children.” After all, they’re nothing more than shapeless toys.
9 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
In the Pirates of the Caribbean film series, Davy Jones is one of the most fascinating characters (visually) to appear on screen. However, considering his entirely inhuman features, it should come as no surprise that this character’s entire appearance is created in the post-production process. While filming, the actor who plays the scary seamen simply wears a green-screen friendly outfit with dots all over his face that allows the filmmakers to add his squid-like features later.
The simple dots and gray outfit are later transformed into the tentacled face of Davy Jones. Even his outfit is added using special effects, likely due to the fact that filmmakers have to integrate his clothes with the swinging tentacles hanging from his face. On the positive side, the actor underneath Davy Jones doesn’t have to sit through hours of makeup to bring this character to life.
10 The Dark Knight
Much like Davy Jones, Two-Face from The Dark Knight is also brought to life using green screen dots and marks. When Harvey Dent has half his face blown off midway through the film, the resulting trauma causes Harvey to go mad and adopt the persona of Two-Face. Two-Face then becomes a formidable opponent of Batman. But beyond the character’s story arc, he is best known for his horribly disfigured face.
Once again, the creation of Two-Face was too complicated for a bit of makeup. Instead, the actor behind Dent played his scenes as Two-Face with dots all over his face. In the post-production process, the filmmakers used those dots to create Two-Face’s signature scarred look, complete with pieces of bone visible beneath the skin and an eye socket that is almost entirely burned away. The end result is scary, but the actors on set just had to imagine Two-Face’s chilling look since the actor looked completely normal.
11 The Avengers
The Marvel Cinematic Universe took superhero movies to the next level. MCU films are impressive not only for their stellar cinematography and special effects, but also for their ability to tie storylines together across multiple films. Plus, the MCU manages to create much-anticipated films that bring fan-favorite stars together on screen. This is all the more impressive when fans consider just how much acting is done against a green screen.
For many of the big moments in MCU films, the actors are simply reacting to…nothing. They stand in front of a green screen, say their lines, and react to what’s supposedly happening around them. However, all the massive explosions and inhuman characters are added in post-production. Therefore, much of what the actors do requires quite a big imagination.
12 Life Of Pi
Much like Daenerys Targaryen’s dragons, the tiger from Life of Pi is a lot less threatening in real life. Instead of using a real animal, the filmmakers opted for a green screen version to bring this movie to life. The result is a cute stuffed animal that only vaguely resembles the fierce tiger seen on screen.
However, knowing the real identity of the tiger makes the final cut all the more impressive. Each of its lifelike features were added in post-production. However, the process has become so advanced that it allowed filmmakers to create something that looks exactly like a real tiger. The actor stays safe by cuddling a stuffed animal, and the audience gets to see a fierce beast on screen—it’s a win-win.
13 Guardians of the Galaxy
A big part of bringing a fictional character to life in a realistic way requires starting with a real human. In The Guardians of the Galaxy, the fictional Rocket Raccoon is a major part of the cast. To bring him to life and make him as real as possible, the filmmakers needed a real person to don the signature green screen suit and provide the movement of the character in relation to the rest of the cast.
While Bradley Cooper voices Rocket Raccoon, actor Sean Gunn helps to provide the character’s movements. Gunn dons the green screen suit and shoots with the rest of the cast. To look like Rocket Raccoon, he’s forced to stay low to the ground and make himself as small as possible. Because of his difficult work, Rocket feels just as real as the rest of the cast.
14 The Hobbit
In some films, the cast and crew travel to a specific location to get a realistic shot. In others, however, there’s no place on earth that will provide the backdrop the filmmakers have in mind. The story of The Hobbit is set in a fantasy land. To create the jaw-dropping world of Bilbo Baggins’s journey, filmmakers had to use a green screen.
In this case, the actors were dressed in their costumes and appeared together on set. However, they shot certain scenes on a green screen stage. The filmmakers then created their own universe and used the green screen to insert their world into the film. When audiences watch The Hobbit, part of the magic is being swept up in a fantasy world so different from our own.
15 I Am Legend
In one particularly terrifying scene in I Am Legend, Will Smith’s character is attacked by a violent, mutant dog. The scene is chilling, so it’s incredibly funny to find out that the flesh-eating beast was nothing more than a hand puppet. In the scene where Will Smith is fighting for his life, he’s actually just pushing away a flimsy dog head on the hand of someone in a green-screen suit.
In the post-production process, the filmmakers made the animal all the more menacing and realistic. They transformed the man in the green screen suit into the animal’s body and added features to the puppet’s head that make it look like an aggressive attacker. However, it’s hard to unsee the image of Will Smith fighting off a hand puppet.
16 Alice In Wonderland
Tweedledee and Tweedledum are important characters in Alice in Wonderland. But when Tim Burton decided to create his live-action version of the film, he was faced with the task of bringing these plump troublemakers to life. Of course, he turned to a green screen.
Much like other characters seen on this list, Tweedledee and Tweedledum were largely the product of a green screen. The actors had to wear awkwardly shaped suits that contributed to their plump appearance. They were also forced to walk on stilts to make them much taller than Alice. To keep the actors safe, they were followed by other green-colored characters who helped to keep them upright and were later edited out of the film altogether.
17 300: Rise of An Empire
Like other movies on this list, 300: Rise of an Empire required a unique background for the film. Since it was set in ancient times, the filmmakers needed a largely deserted backdrop with no modern conveniences. While it may have been possible to find such a place in the real world, it was much easier to simply create one using a green screen.
The actors in 300 gathered on a green screen stage. Part of the stage was made to look like the rock formation shone in the film, but the backdrop was full of green screens draped together. Then, in post-production, the filmmakers carried the rock-like terrain into the background, creating something that likely no longer exists in the real world.
18 The Martian
The Martian starring Matt Damon revolves around an astronaut stranded on Mars. Since the film isn’t even set on earth, using a green screen was a no-brainer. Many of Damon’s scenes were shot on a green screen stage full of sand to mimic the look of Mars. The background was added later.
In short, Damon was basically just playing in a glorified sandbox for an entire film. The end result was incredible, but shooting almost an entire movie by relying on green screens had to be quite the challenge.
19 Boardwalk Empire
Sometimes even the smallest of green screens can yield the most amazing results. In HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, tiny green screens were placed against solid buildings. The green screens barely extended past the first floor and looked rather flimsy.
In the post-production process, however, these green screens were transformed into a bay with huge boats docked in the water. The transition is so seamless that the audience would never assume flimsy green screens were responsible for the drastic change.
20 The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
While green screens are necessary to bring a story to life, sometimes they look downright funny. That’s definitely the case for The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. In this movie, Bella pets a large werewolf. But in reality, Bella was simply patting another human dressed in a green screen suit on the head. The resulting image had to be more than a little amusing for both actors involved.
However, the green screen suit works. What started as another human bowing in front of Bella was transformed into a massive werewolf in the post-production process. The wolf looks so lifelike that it’s hard to even imagine it started as a simple human in a funny-looking suit.
21 San Andreas
In some cases, a green screen may not be enough to achieve the desired effect. Therefore, the production must also resort to ingenious subterfuges to make the final result in the film as spectacular as expected. This was the case for this dramatic and impressive scene from the San Andreas movie.
In this scene, the Golden Bridge is destroyed by a huge wave that hits it, causing incredible damage. However, although the production used a green screen for the landscape surrounding the bridge, the huge wave effect hitting the bridge was created by a miniature model of the bridge and a bucket full of water!