Green Screen digital imaging makes movie red hot

Associated Press.

AP Video: Behind the Scenes of ‘300’ with Zach Snyder

Assoicated Press Video

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Snyder’s “300” boldly seduces viewers into a chaotic vortex of violence, power, and love. The film is a jaw-dropping, visually unprecedented adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel of the same name.

The movie tells the story of the 300 Spartan warriors who laid down their lives to defend their homeland from the onslaught of the invading Persian army at The Battle of Thermopylae in 480 B.C. Shielded by pride and an infallible love for Sparta, they form an impenetrable wall against a seemingly unbeatable force led by a ruler who believed he was divine. The war began with one city’s unquenchable thirst for freedom and ends in the world’s first form of democracy as it inspires all of Greece to join forces against the Persian army.

Snyder holds nothing back as he visually enthralls the audience with stunning backgrounds, grotesque creatures and mind-blowing special effects. About 90 percent of the film is shot using CGI (computer-generated imagery) with the actors in front of green screens that enhance the visual impact of the movie rather than give it an unnatural appearance. Bold and muted blend into a dramatic color scheme that rivets the eye. A grainy overlay gives the movie its gritty “ancient” look.

The special effects and graphics dominate the film. From computer-generated elephants to slow-motion, Matrix-like movements, the graphics are simply astonishing. There is no chance for the audience to recover as the movie streams from one mind-bending scene to the next. Beautifully choreographed, the battle scenes flow in a fierce ballet of death and glory.

No detail is overlooked in the transformation from actor to character. From disgusting warts to washboard abs, each character’s appearance is well-defined. The actors portraying the brave 300 underwent a rigorous six-week exercise program in order to authenticate the Spartan warrior look. However, physiques did not carry this film. The movie would not have near the impact without their brilliant acting. First and foremost, Gerard Butler IS King Leonidas. Passion radiates from Butler as he portrays the powerful, yet torn, Leonidas. The desire to defend his homeland from a tyrannical invader burns through his veins while also warring with his reluctant commitment to ancient Spartan law. Butler’s interpretation of Leonidas’ internal conflict is compelling and heartfelt.

Lena Headey complements Butler well as the regal Queen Gorgo. Spartan women are believed to have been just as strong and proud as their male counterparts, and Headey’s performance only serves to support this. Rodrigo Santoro’s portrayal of the vain and egotistical Persian leader, Xerxes, brings to life a character who believes himself an indestructible god on Earth. Each actor’s performance creates a character who adds his own layer to a marvelously complex tale of honor, love and conviction.

Like its warriors, “300” is raw. It is passionate. It is an emotional sucker punch that makes no apologies for its brutal beauty. “300” is a sensory-overload that pulls the viewer into each battle, each betrayal, and each heart-wrenching moment. If it is the survival of the fittest, “300” comes out on top.