The green screen is the most useful weapon in a TV show’s special effects arsenal. For Knight Rider, it’s an absolute necessity, since trying to film the various car chases would be impossible otherwise. When BuddyTV visited the set of the new Knight Rider, we spent most of the day in the massive KITT Cave, then took a quick final trip to the green screen sound stage.
Imagine a huge warehouse that could easily fit about three 747s. Now cover half of it with a green screen. The sight is overwhelming, the sheer volume of lime green as far as the eye can see. In the middle of it all, a hollowed out car where Justin Bruening spends some very long days. Continue reading for more details and to see exclusive video footage of Bruening and the green screen.
There are many difficulties in filming extensive special effects footage against a green screen. For one, it means Bruening will occasionally spend an entire day’s worth of work sitting in the car on the green screen stage. However, this means he might cram several episodes worth of green screen action into a single day. Though they were filming episode 5 in the KITT Cave during our visit, Bruening was shooting some scenes for a car chase in episode 3.
Another trick for Bruening is staying sane. Since he completes some missions alone, the day might be spent with just him in the car, trying to amuse himself. One fun thing he does is reciting his lines, often in weird, different accents. Yet line memorization may not be the most important thing because working in the car means there may be plenty of places to hide his script, so when you watch the show and see him look down at the speedometer, it might be to read his next line.
During the whole process, Bruening has the miraculous ability to stay upbeat and aware. There are perils in working with the green screen and the hollowed out car, most notably the lack of a windshield or windows. Burening must be careful not to reach out too far, or the special effects will leave viewers thinking he put his hand through the windows.
The scene we saw Bruening filming was for a scene in Knight Rider’s third episode where Mike is in a race with a rival car. It sounds exciting, and the visual effects team will undoubtedly create an energetic final cut, but seeing it in person, it’s impossible to understand how they’ll do it. While Bruening sits in the car, the director yells out, “Swerve left, bump right, there’s a tree up ahead!” All he has to go on are these simple instructions, and somehow Bruening and the wizardry of the visual effects team can create a stunning action sequence.
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-John Kubicek, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Additional video footage courtesy of NBC)