February 13, 2020 • Academics

Sioux City middle school students learn green screen technology

Two students use a green screen during an eighth-grade video production class at West Middle School. Photo by Tim Hyndes, Sioux City Journal
Two students use a green screen during an eighth-grade video production class at West Middle School. Photo by Tim Hyndes, Sioux City Journal

SIOUX CITY — Cameron Keleher can’t see very well and his movement is somewhat restricted. However, the West Middle School eighth-grader is the star of his own video.

Except in the finished product, you won’t be able to see him at all.

That’s because Cameron is wearing a green suit in front of a green screen.

By using a process known as chroma key, video featuring Cameron — in a bright green suit against a bright green background — can be digitally isolated and removed.

Having Cameron pick up and lift a chair will give viewers the impression that the chair is moving by itself.

According to video production teacher Jo Dee Weltz, this form of technical hocus pocus is used by TV meteorologists whenever they give a forecast or by movie directors whenever they want to dazzle audiences with a special effect.

In Weltz’s case, she is using green screen technology as a way to instruct her students on the “4 C’s of 21st Century Skills.”

The 4 C’s are critical thinking (solving problems); creativity (thinking outside of the box); collaboration (allowing kids to work together towards a common goal); and communication (letting them learn the best ways to convey ideas).

“It may look like we’re just making videos in this class,” Weltz explained. “Instead, we’re introducing to students to skill sets they’ll need long after they leave the classroom.”

In Cameron’s case, he’s simple happy to hone his personal video making chops. After all, he has more than 250 videos of him playing basketball.

“I’d like to learn how to edit and add more special effects,” he explained.

Cameron’s video making classmate Jacob Uhl is simply amazed by picking up some of the tricks.

“I think it’s cool how we take Cameron out of the picture by using green screen,” Jacob said. “We can also add a different background by using green screen.”

In fact, video production eighth-grader Yaslin Murillo literally put herself inside of a video game.

She ran across a green screen floor and backdrop while classmate collaborators Brisa Avila and Alexa Parrish superimposed images of an interactive video game.

“That turned out really well,” Brisa said as the trio viewed the 15-second finished product. “It looked like Yaslin was right inside the game.”

Despite being a burgeoning video maker, Yaslin already knows she wants to become a veterinarian while classmates Brisa and Alexa want to become a police officer and a mechanic, respectively.

While Jacob is still on the fence about his future occupation, Cameron is pining for a career in the NBA and possibly, a side gig as someone who documents cool basketball shots.

Well, Cameron already has a head start by knowing the ins and outs of green screen technology.

View full article by Earl Horlyk on the Sioux City Journal 

Photo by, Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal