The man who introduced blue- and green-screen technology to Hollywood is dead. Petro Vlahos pioneered the concept, which lets directors superimpose live action over a pre-recorded background over five decades ago. “All visual effects professionals and movie fans owe him a debt of gratitude,” said Everett Burrell, senior visual effects supervisor at Look Effects. “It’s hard to even conceive of how we would do what we do without the amazing number of processes and techniques he pioneered.”
Although the technology was not new when Valhos started to use it–it had been seen before in The Thief of Baghdad and The Ten Commandments, his firm, Ultimatte, made the process much more realistic. Vlahos, who was 96 when he died, was awarded many patents for the techniques he invented in his laboratory, including the one which won him an Oscar, teaming up live action with cartoons on Mary Poppins.