Shanks FX Tackles Lost Art of Front Screen Projection

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The YouTube series Shanks FX is at it again, this time recreating the technique of Front Screen Projection for visual effects.

Joey Schenkenberg has been offering instructional videos via his PBS Digital Studios produced YouTube series, Shanks FX. They provide great insight on the low tech ways one could provide visual effects for their own projects. The series is up to 30 videos (as of press time) and each take on the different effects ranging from a comparison of digital versus film side by side, to the cloud tank effect that helped create alien environments in films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

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The most recent video waxes nostalgic about the use of front screen projection. In today’s age, digital compositing usually provide the background for most films today with use of green screen. Front screen projection, which Stanley Kubrick employed and championed, would project the image of already filmed footage onto the performers and the Scotchlite background surface. Through the use of angles and mirrors, the effect would produce a better effect and image than what a rear projection would provide. There’s a certain science and method and Schenkenberg recreates this in the video below, as well as more in-depth explanation on how to recreate this effect.

Most recently, the Joseph Kosinski helmed Oblivion starring Tom Cruise used this effect to recreate the 360 degree cloud background that surrounds the outpost but for the most part, the process has been replaced with digital techniques. Maybe once more budding filmmakers see this video and see the end result, we might see more use of this lost art. Or perhaps, according to some conspiracy theorists, recreate more moon landings with this technique.

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For more videos like this one, check out the official Shanks FX website or the official YouTube page.

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