It's a scene torn from the pages of "Harry Potter" or "The Lord of the Rings." In mid-November 2022, a video went viral showing a woman donning an alleged invisibility cloak. The videos were shared with text claiming that "Japanese scientists discovered invisibility," but that is not the case.
The video is an example of a green screen at work — or in this case, a green cloth. It's a common visual effect used by video editors.
Adobe, the creator of the popular image editing suite Photoshop, explained how green screens work, and why green is most often (but not always) used to edit out unwanted items from images and videos:
Green screen or blue screen video shoots can be game changers for creating live-motion projects involving custom backgrounds or for compositing in special effects worthy of Hollywood. Shooting with a green screen involves filming a person or adding visual effects in front of a solid color. Then, by digitally removing or "keying out" that color, you can drop that scene onto the background of your choice in post-production. Removing the colored background is also referred to as "chroma keying."
Why do we use a green background? It doesn't match any natural skin tone or hair color, so it's easy to remove without grabbing parts of the person in the foreground. But if you're trying to match a lower-light background, or you need to have a green prop in your project, a blue screen works best.
Using solid green for photo and video editing has resulted in some internet humor in the past, including a solid green dress worn by then-first lady Melania Trump that some applied creative edits to:
Although so-called "invisibility cloaks" remain in the realm of science fiction and fantasy, in September 2022, the news and technology site Wired reported that some companies were working on ways to make invisibility technology come to life.
Adobe. "How to use a green screen." https://www.adobe.com/creativecloud/video/discover/how-to-use-green-screen.html#:~:text=Shooting%20with%20a%20green%20screen,to%20as%20%E2%80%9Cchroma%20keying.%E2%80%9D, Accessed 17 Nov. 2022.
Stokel-Walker, Chris. "This Company Says It's One Step Closer to an Invisibility Cloak." Wired. www.wired.com, https://www.wired.com/story/vollebak-invisibility-cloak/. Accessed 17 Nov. 2022.