Grips Win Oscar for Inflatable Green Screen

Aircover inflatable green screenA green screen is a backdrop that is all green or sometimes blue that is mounted in the background as a scene for a movie or television show is filmed. In post-production, the single color is replaced with video footage of computer-generated special effects.

Green screens are an important component of many Hollywood films, allowing actors to be placed in any setting with monsters and special effects. Most big budget films use a green screen to generate special effects.

Four grips from Canada received a Technical Achievement Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for an inflatable green screen. David McIntosh, Steve Smith, Mike Branham, and Mike Kirilenko won an Oscar for engineering for their Aircover Inflatables Airwall. They received the award at a ceremony hosted by Jason Segel and Olivia Munn.

The Airwall consists of large vinyl air mattresses in sections 20 feet wide and 24 feet tall. They can be placed on the ground or stacked on cargo containers if a taller height is needed. Several air mattresses can be attached if necessary. The mattresses are covered with green or blue material.

The walls can be lowered if the director needs more light on the set or if it is necessary to eliminate green or blue spill, which is caused when the sun hits the green or blue material and is reflected onto the actors. If there is too much green or blue spill, air can be let out of the wall to reduce it. The screen can be lowered to allow more sunlight but still block the background.

Older versions of green screens used metal scaffolding, stacked cargo containers, or telephone poles. The new design is more versatile since it is not a solid structure. The inflatable green screens are easier and faster to set up than ones traditionally used.

The team first came up with the idea eight years ago, but they got their big break in 2013 when the technology was used on the set of “Godzilla” in a Golden Gate Bridge destruction scene recorded in South Vancouver. Aircover has provided green screens for many other movies since then.

The developers of the new inflatable green screen were honored to receive the award for their work. They said grips are often not recognized for their contributions to Hollywood films.