Netflix develops an AI-powered 'purple' green screen

The method throws bright magenta light on actors and uses AI to brush up the shot.
Sejal Sharma
Actors in front of the magenta green screen
Actors in front of the magenta green screen


Green screens have been used in Hollywood for decades to create special effects.

For the uninitiated, a green screen is added as a backdrop to add visual effects later. Later, the green screen is digitally removed or keyed out so the editor can drop a scene onto the background in post-production.

Now researchers at Netflix have developed the Magenta Green Screen, which records the color image of the actor in front of the green screen without requiring any special camera or manual keying techniques.

What's a magenta-green screen?

The technique still uses a green screen in the background but throws blue and red lights on them. The mixture of the blue and the red light makes it look like the actors are bright magenta. This creates an effect in which the actor stands silhouetted against a bright, even green background, which can be used directly as a holdout matte, stated the researchers in their study published in arXiv.

Using artificial intelligence (AI) colorization techniques, the researchers say they can restore the green channel of the foreground. They do this by training the machine learning model with pictures of the actors in bright white light. This yields convincing and temporally stable colorization results.

Combatting old challenges

The traditional green screen, often used in movies and news broadcast channels, has challenges. The actors or journalists can’t wear makeup that matches the color of the backdrop because then those colors will blend with the background. Therefore, additional cleanup may be needed in post-production to remove a brightly colored glow around the talent, reported New Scientist.

“Computers already have provided such powerful tools to make a lot of stuff easier,” Paul Debevec, a researcher with Netflix, told New Scientist. “[This is] another thing that we can make easier, so that the talented artists that we have can focus on the artistry, actually making things look better.”

While the method certainly makes the process of adding visual effects smoother and more efficient, Hollywood might not be convinced anytime soon.

A broadcast engineer and online editor at a video production company in California told New Scientist that though the industry welcomes new methods, the magenta technique involves a lot of complex steps, which may not yet be conducive to the fast-paced nature of shooting film and television.

“There are a variety of aspects of this technology that, from a practical perspective, make me wonder if it’s worth it,” added Drew Lahat. “It may work well in a fully controlled space, but it would have to compete with other new techniques like virtual production stages, and win over producers in real-world scenarios.”

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