Green screens have long been a staple of Hollywood’s special effects, allowing directors to almost magically place their actors on any setting that can be imagined. It is nearly impossible to do a big budget movie without a green screen these days.
This is why a new unique green screen technology, made locally by four grips in the Metro Vancouver region, was acknowledged by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
On Sunday, during the annual Scientific and Technical Award ceremony in Los Angeles, founding members of Delta-based Aircover Inflatables were awarded the Oscars’ Technical Achievement Award for their development of a giant, vinyl air inflated green screen. The ceremony was hosted by Jason Segel and Olivia Munn.
“It’s rare that the grips department is recognized for their contributions, so to be recognized is pretty incredible,” Steve Smith, co-founder and CEO of Aircover Inflatables, told Vancity Buzz.
Smith says the inflatable screens are quicker to set-up at any location, safer, and generally more versatile compared to conventional green screen structures that are held up by metal scaffolding structures.
“We can let the walls down if they need to put more light on the set or if they need to get rid of the green or blue spill,” he said. “That just means when the sun is hitting the green or blue material, it literally reflects onto the actors on the set. If there’s too much with that, we can let out air out of the wall and that helps with the contamination.”
“We can lower it to a certain angle, so you have more sky but you’re still hiding the ugly background you don’t want to see.”
The inflatable screens sit on top of cargo containers and can be covered with a green or blue composite.
— Andy Serkis (@andyserkis) January 15, 2016
Smith says the idea first came up eight years ago, but it did not take off until early-2013 when the local production team behind Godzilla decided to take a chance on the inflatable screens. His company’s green screens were used for the production’s Golden Gate Bridge destruction scene filmed at an empty lot in South Vancouver.
More recently, Aircover provided the green screens for War For the Planet Of The Apes in South Richmond. 1,200 feet of green screens, reaching a height of up to 50 feet in some areas, supplemented the war-torn prison set built next to Richmond Entertainment Centre.
Other major productions that have used the unique green screens include Game of Thrones, Tomorrowland, Avengers: Age Of Ultron, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Star Trek Beyond, X-Men Apocalypse, Suicide Squad, and Captain America: Civil War.