Special FX

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Concept

Special FX is an exploration of greenscreen technology. What do amateur filmmakers, specifically those who post their greenscreen tests to youtube, use greenscreen for? Most often they are used for amateur approximations of the types of special effects you might see in Hollywood films, particularly action movies: explosions, exploding cars, flying bullets, airplanes, fire, fireworks, dinosaurs, UFOs, etc. Sometimes they are used for their most traditional purpose: placing a person in a new environment. Frequently they are used for the strange, confusing, abstract, and simply beautiful: golden soccer balls, a dancing skeleton, flashing lights, a butterfly. These youtube special effects range from near professional to extremely amateurish. The video resolution from effect to effect varies widely from HD to fuzzy pixelation that only vaguely resembles video. I wanted to explore what would happen if all of these spectra were collapsed into one space. How could I re-edit this greenscreen footage in a way that might complicate traditional assumptions about the purpose and usage of greenscreen technology? How could I compose each of these clips in a way that was more closely related to fine art than mainstream or amateur film-making? Through my edit I hoped to create a video that collapses the space between video art and amateur film, high and low resolution, action films and youtube cat videos, and other dichotomies, all while injecting a bit of humor into each scene. The remnants of low resolution video and all the glitches that come along with utilizing found youtube footage were maintained in the video in order to reference youtube, point out the amateurish nature of many of the clips, explore the beauty of the glitch, and question how video footage so technically flawed could even be used in a traditional film-making context. This video mash-up is an intentional subversion of the originally intended usage of each green screen clip (though admittedly it is unclear what the intended usage could possibly be for some of these clips) creating a final product that is more like collage than film.

Process

I began by collecting youtube greenscreen footage by locating videos on youtube and downloading them using the website keepvid.com. After typing my initial search terms I tried to allow youtube to lead me through different clips, taking me wherever it wanted to. I followed related videos and utilized youtube recommendations, creating a semi-continuous trail of greenscreen footage. Doing this would allow my final video piece to mirror the structure of youtube, following the volition of the website and its users just as much as my own.

After collecting the footage I edited the entire video in Adobe After Effects. Greenscreen videos were layered on top of each other multiple times with the chroma-keying effect. I often stretched the size of the videos in order to scale them properly for the scene and exaggerate the pixelation of low resolution videos. I utilized keyframing effects to move certain clips in and out of frame and to have objects shrink or enlarge in scale. All of the clips were edited into a single continuous composition. When I was finished editing I exported the file both as an full quality HD .mov file and one sized appropriately for youtube (720p)

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