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Film special effects expert Petro Vlahos passes away

Film special effects expert Petro Vlahos passes away

THE death has taken place of Petro Vlahos whose work in film special effects laid the foundation for some of the techniques used in many of today’s blockbuster movies. He was 96.

In fact, most people probably see the results of his pioneering work on a daily basis without realising it, when they watch the weather forecast on TV. The technique used to place forecasters against a background of maps and photographs was developed from work carried out by Mr. Vlahos.

He pioneered the use of blue-screen and green-screen systems which allow actors to be superimposed against filmed backgrounds. See below for a demonstation. 

Mr. Vlahos first developed the procedure for the movie Ben Hur (1959), which starred Charlton Heston and Stephen Boyd.

He developed his techniques further and won an Oscar for his work on Disney’s Mary Poppins in 1964. The techniques were also used in other Disney productions, including Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971). 

Mr. Vlahos owned a number of patents relating to the special effects that he developed. As a result, some of his innovations are still being used in the film, TV and computer games industries.

Some of the special effects which are seen in many of today’s blockbuster movies owe their origins to the work originally carried out by Mr. Vlahos. 

Many tributes were paid to Mr. Vlahos by special effects experts from across the movie industry who regarded him as a giant of the profession.

To see a demonstration of the green-screen technology, click here.

To view an excerpt from an interview with Mr. Vlahos, click here.

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