INTERVIEW: Green Lantern Director Learns CGI On The Job

Shooting live action stunts and visual effects is second nature to Campbell, but for GREEN LANTERN, the New Zealander had to learn CGI technology and shoot the majority of the film on a blue screen. Martin Campbell is best known for action films including reviving the James Bond franchise with Casino Royale starring Daniel Craig.  He also helmed many action-adventure films such as The Mask of Zorro (1998) with Antonio Banderas and it's 2005 sequel Legend of Zorro, Vertical Limit (Chris O'Donnell), and the Pierce Brosnan Bond film Goldeneye (1995).  

To film the universe of the Green Lantern Corps and Green Lantern's super powers, Ryan Reynolds and Mark Strong acted opposite a blue screen. The galaxy and Planet Oa would later be added in with computer graphics.  Parallax, one of the villains of GREEN LANTERN, was created entirely in digital during post production.  A blue screen instead of the usual green screen was used for obvious reasons -- the primary color for the hero is green. In order to factor out the background from the actor in post production, the background must be a different color.

CineMovie recently asked Martin Campbell during a press conference in Beverly Hills, how he approached the new technology and what surprised him the most about it.

"You learn an awful lot technically.  I've never done it so the only way to learn it is to do it. You can't read about it. You can't be told about it. Point is you have to do it."

Cambpell may have learned all about CGI on the job, but he did bring his knowledge of live action stunts to the blue screen production and treated the action scenes similar to his previous work.

"From the technical point of view, it's a learning curve but really the same rules apply in terms of action, in terms of how you stage the scene, and so forth. To be honest it's very similar."
Ryan Reynolds and Martin Campbell on the set of GREEN LANTERN

Campbell didn't take it easy on his star Ryan Reynolds on the make believe set, bringing real-life elements to the action scenes.

"Certainly in staging the action, we wanted to action to be tough and hard.  We certainly didn't want Green Lantern to get up having been slung against the wall at a 100 miles an hour just to shake his head and go back into the fight. He does get pushed around and beaten up a little bit and really has to feel the pain as it were.  In a lot of respects, its very similar to doing Bond or any other action film."

Ryan Reynolds can attest to Campbell's "tough and hard" methods on set with a shoulder dislocation to prove it. For Ryan, GREEN LANTERN was also his first film which required "so much post-production."   

For Martin Campbell, the hands-on experience with CGI proved the best learning ground. 

GREEN LANTERN is now playing in movie theaters nationwide.

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