Behind the Green Screen

By: Ned Casey
By: Ned Casey
My name is Ned Casey. Since the late 70s I have worked in film, television, multimedia and music production. These fields have offered a unique blend of art and technology, something that I have always found quite compelling. Currently I work at WBKO as Master Control Operations Manager—a lengthy title which mostly means making sure our technology works as it should to keep us on the air.

 

Because my background includes both technology and art I am going to be writing about the technical elements that support and inspire the production of film and television works; the art of technology, if you will.

 

I began as an artist and got into making movies seriously when I was about 12 years old. Back then this meant 8mm film. Sound was a luxury and effects were mostly in-camera or whatever you could come up with on your own. I had no AfterEffects, no Photoshop, no 3D rendering programs or non-linear digital editing. In fact, editing at that time was done with a small guillotine-like contraption that cut the film and allowed you to splice another piece onto it. It was painfully linear and slow going. But I loved it. You learn so much more quickly about something you love. It becomes an obsession. And I wanted to know everything I could about this amazing way to capture, break down and re-build the world.

 

By the time I got to college I had already shot and edited thousands of feet of film and I was able to get my hands on real equipment and high-end technology. In the summers I worked as an intern to filmmakers and at local television stations. To make money I played in bands and worked in old churches around the Boston area restoring old murals for a company that specialized in that work. Painting also has its technological side. Understanding the properties of paints, surface preparations, structural considerations and the optical tricks used by master mural painters to create certain effects all played a part in my art/technology education. After college I went on to grad school to advance my film studies and many years later, here I am in Bowling Green.

 

In this blog I hope to share with you some of what I have learned over the years regarding the use of technology in the service of communication—especially in the fields of film and television. We will explore what happens under the hood, so to speak. The massive amounts of information out on the web available to those who delight in finding out answers to the question “How did they do that?” have created a large community of techo-literates who may find some of what is covered here somewhat elementary; I am writing for a more general audience. But even those technofiends who can tell you all about the what happened on the set of  The Dark Knight might discover something they never knew. For instance how Orson Welles achieved a winter scene complete with snow and frosty breath from his actors—in a studio setting. No digital cheating! Or how comedian Ernie Kovacs in the 1950s was able to pour liquid from a bottle and have it come out at an angle--on live television.

 

Stay tuned.

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