YouTube appears to be trying to make green screen obsolete. If Google's artificial intelligence-powered video segmentation capabilities prove sufficiently convincing enough to erase the need for green screens, then this is good news for amateur content producers and creators.
That's not to say green screen will go out of fashion anytime soon, though. They're still crucially integral to filmmaking, especially big-budget VFX blockbusters, and likely won't be phased out anytime soon unless a newer, more innovating technology is introduced. Google's new green screen-ish tech doesn't seem like it's breaking any ground, but it does look pretty impressive.
Google Replaces Green Screen With Artificial Intelligence
The company is relying on AI and machine learning to replace the background in videos without the need for a green screen, and the interface looks as easy as slapping on a Snapchat or Instagram filter onto a video. In a blog post, Google goes into detail about how the technology works, an enthralling read if you're either a machine learning or VFK geek. Overall, though, it looks convincing enough. It won't win any VFX awards, yes, but it looks like it could be the next great fad after Snapchat's augmented reality filters, one of which can turn one's face into a dog.
It isn't perfect, that's for certain. In some cases, weird halos appear around certain edges, and anomalies near the area of the hair takes one out of the illusion. But to achieve something convincing, especially one that occurs on a mobile device, is truly remarkable. Questions loom, though. Is the process battery intensive? Will it require a special, depth-sensing camera?
For now, the tech is still in limited beta and available only for select YouTube creators. Also, the feature is still exclusive to "stories," apparently YouTube's new social video service platform. Furthermore, it's still not certain what the requirements look like for this tech to work. Will it only be available for Google Pixel 2 devices, provided they come with a special Pixel Visual Core chip that applies intelligent processing for images? Details are thin, but Google does have a few plans in store:
"Our immediate goal is to use the limited rollout in YouTube stories to test our technology on this first set of effects," the company said. "As we improve and expand our segmentation technology to more labels, we plan to integrate it into Google's broader Augmented Reality services."