December 6, 2016

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Green Screen Animals

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They’re unpredictable actors, difficult to work with. And don’t always take direction.

Coming up – a new way shoot animals – for the movies.

Getting wild animals to snarl on cue or go from here to there on a movie set is difficult. People, props, equipment and locations can all distract animals. And even the simplest shot can take hours.

Sometimes that causes producers to push too hard – like a recent HBO production which had to be shut down after 3 horses died.

But what if you could film animals in a neutral environment where they’d be focused without all the distractions – and insert them into a film later. With today’s digital technology, isn’t that possible?

That’s what Mark Shockley thought. The producer came up with the idea while helping his wife, who happens to be an animal trainer.

What Shockley and his investors created was Green Screen Animals a digital production company specializing in animal footage — in Santa Monica California.

In the movie world, green screens are sets where walls and floors are painted green – and actors are shot pretending to do any number of things – from flying like Superman, to fighting atop a skyscraper. Anything not colored green on that set can be digitally plopped into regular footage using computers

Why not use that technology to shoot exotic, wild and potentially dangerous animals?

That’s what Green Screen Animals specializes in. Every day animal trainers and their charges come to the studios to film animals for films and commercials. Wolves for HBO’s True Blood. Cats for Samsung smart phone ads. All kinds of creatures for Disney movies like “We Built a Zoo.”

They’re shot inside the studio, then plopped down digitally into footage of forests, deserts, streets, or buildings – without inflating budgets, endangering actors or disrupting schedules. That’s good for people – AND animals. As the company says on its website, by recording animals in HD in a green screen environment, “we minimize the impact on the animal … the recording can be repurposed in unlimited applications…”

And if you have a real tight budget, Green Screen Images can rent you pre-shot stock footage catured by its cameras. It has 3,000 digital clips that can be rented for as little as $500. And even distributes HD animal footage through Getty Images!

All of this comes in handy if you want big animals like leopards, lions, elephants or grizzly bears in your production. Foreign producers from Australia, Japan, Britain and Eastern Europe are especially crazy about grizzly bears. Schockley says theyr’e among Green Screen Animal’s biggest customers.

Shooting is safe for the animals; the American Humane Association monitors all shoots. And if an animal doesn’t want to do a scene, Shockley says that’s OK. Unlike his customers, he doesn’t have the pressure of a $30 million film on his back. So he and the animals can live to shoot another day.

So how is Green Screen Animals doing? Since 2008 sales have tripled – and all that work is making a lot of producers … and a lot of animals … happier.

Mark Shockley exemplifies an axiom featured on our website: Think Niche within a Niche. He came up with a faster, more efficiently way to get wild animals into films. Green Screen Animals.

Now why didn’t I think of that?

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