How Green Screen Worked Before Computers


– – For those of us who grew up in the age of CGI, green screen is just “a thing that computers do”. But how did effects like this work before the age of pixels? With the help of some suitably shiny graphics, here’s a quick summary.

Thank you to Matt Gray – – – for sterling work getting the camera and lighting right!

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  1. Addyz says

    Funny that you mention the quantel paintbox – I still use a bit of quantel software in work to this day. And it really does work like it was made in the 80s!

  2. KnockTime says

    Somehow i always wind up watching these videos at 3am

  3. Kris Ruppert says

    It has taken me now something like 35 years to find out there was a joke to Gobo’s Uncle Travelling Matt. Jim Henson, you magnificent bastard!

  4. Ben Zimmerman says

    CC:"evil attempts to do moving shots"Oh no.

  5. WeinSim says

    1:23 isn't it dichromatic with the two wavelengths very close together?

  6. x SamairaIsCool x says

    5 years later in Lockdown, Quarantine in 2020. Covid-19 / Coronavirus

  7. Jody May says

    Doctor who! Nice 🙂

  8. Martin Hamre says

    I somehow doubt that this "jerk" made this video in an afternoon…

  9. Shino says

    entendi porra nenhuma.

  10. tioposer says

    Great explanation Tom, thank you

  11. Kamesh Kotwani says

    I don't even know what I'm watching, I just love his narration.

  12. 山大Yali says

    love the editing

  13. jimBobuu says

    Uncle Traveling Matt? Awesome!

  14. Lazarus Mekhane says

    0:50 Bad Apple

  15. Laurens De Haan says

    I would be at the university, maybe walking on the moon if this guy was my teacher

  16. Gareth Williams says

    The reason I was made redundant at Quantel was down to the improvement of computer technology, the writing was on the wall for Paintbox, Picturebox etc. Back in the 90s when film and TV people,were the only ones to know about Green Screen/Blue Screen (more widely used back then)/Chroma Key/Colour Separation Overlay

  17. Michael McNamara says

    And then later alien technology come along and will make computer obsolete

  18. mrcydonia says

    On old shows like Monty Python's Flying Circus, you can tell the that onscreen captions and titles were just physical letters someone had glued onto a piece of cardboard with a solid one-color background, and the letters were chromakeyed onto the live action video.

  19. Santee Gaming says


  20. Benjamín Merino says

    That's basically how was made the Mexican series "el chapulin colorado" and "el chavo" when in a scene was ñoño and señor barriga, they were played by the same actor.

  21. Zappa Wench says

    I can imagine Mr M Gray having a giggle about a "travelling Matt"! Probably came into the YT studios with a backpack and a map

  22. Smartie TV says

    …okay, maybe two afternoons.

  23. BONGONDOR says

    you are amazing at video editing

  24. kayden lim says

    The thumbnail looks like his shirts in the closet

  25. Levi Milligan says

    The top right corner bugs me

  26. Bowtie Productions says

    My therapist: Green Tom can't hurt you.Green Tom:

  27. Eurika dude says

    I still dont quite understand

  28. Snatched. says

    Television and movie fx were better when they relied more on creativity and "physical effects" rather a computer.

  29. Elijah Dage says

    Tom Scott is a jerk confirmed.

  30. uninterested Music says

    3:23 Change da world, my final message. Goodbye.

  31. Jani Akujärvi says

    That’s impressive but you still left the mike visible.

  32. Owen Borg says

    when i was like 8 i though they went through the entire thing frame by frame and traced out the actors

  33. PercivalBlakeney says

    The funeral shot of Alec Guinness in Kind Hearts and Coronets. ?

  34. Weekblues says

    Insert Reverened X talking back to his callers in front of Eden and with 2pac music

  35. Jonnyreverb says

    You skipped retro-reflective projection compositing. That was used in film (See Running Silent Running Deep) and video (see Automan) in very different ways.

  36. Andrew Aronson says

    I really hate this guy

  37. Pink Droid says

    Tom Scott: "These days, green screen is easy"Microphone Boom: "Are you sure about that"

  38. ThePixel1983 says

    Is that a microphone in shot? (Top right)

  39. Cog Johnston says

    0:52 bad apple

  40. PersonMon says

    0:00 top right boom

  41. g.briel b.tista says

    so here am I, with a youtube recomendation

  42. You Know Who says

    What if you wear a green shirt

  43. charl says

    For electric video signals, how did they get in sync with only analog circuitry? Was there some sort of analog frame buffer?

  44. FritzHugo3 says

    Thank you, i have search some minut's before i get a real answer at my google search. Always videos and text's for PC and know time. There are nothin in the german wikis ^^.

  45. gqob_osu says

    What if, you put a green screen on a green screen

  46. Lovely Doll Time says

    Despite the changes, there still remains 1 rule: No wearing green in front of a green screen.


    Randy Orton RKO out of nowhere … 0:24 ….

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