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Monday, January 07, 2008

Cinital's new take on green screen tech

In Sunday's Boston Globe, I wrote about a small company called Cinital that's trying to bring down the price of high-quality, real-time green screen compositing. What's novel about their approach is that the camera can move anywhere it wants -- or change focus -- and the background responds appropriately.

From the story:

    Ordinarily, it's hard to tell what live actors will look like once these digital backgrounds are laid in; that work, called "compositing," is usually done afterward by visual effects specialists. But the concept behind Mack's company is to mix the actors and the backgrounds in real time, so the director can see what the final shot will look like by glancing at a high-definition monitor - and reduce or eliminate the costs of all that laborious, after-the-fact compositing.

    Mack's Cinital system could be used on as many as 20 TV productions and a handful of feature films this year, says Sam Nicholson, chief executive of Stargate Digital, a South Pasadena, Calif., visual-effects firm that bought the first system. One of the first projects to which Cinital contributed is NBC's new made-for-TV movie "Knight Rider," which airs next month.

    "This year is going to be a watershed year for us and this technology," says Nicholson, whose company has contributed visual effects to movies like "Charlie's Angels 2" and TV shows like "Heroes."

So far, the prototype system has been used for pre-viz on the forthcoming "Knight Rider" TV movie and an episode of "Saving Grace."

I also shot some video of the system, and Cinital founder Eliot Mack.

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