Transparent Screen Illusion Video Clip

After few debates, we finally managed to figure out all of the transparent desktops, PSPS, Screens… Remember? Well today we give you some more material to keep you occupied. I really have no idea how this guy managed to make his laptop transparent, even when he keeps moving it! Please help me figure out this movie clip. I would like to thank Rohtop for sending us this incredible illusion! Here’s what Rohtop wrote on this one: “Hey Vurdlak, I saw some vid that shows the transparent screen illusion, maybe you saw it already I don know. There’s a link in my attachment. Very cool! Keep up the good work with your site, I love it very much.”

108 Replies to “Transparent Screen Illusion Video Clip”

  1. I agree with Noone. Its a chroma key. One of the more simple tricks to do, too. Take a picture of the area where the computer will be (shot from the same perspective as the video camera shooting it in the video) then make the desktop a chroma key color. Blue and Green are often used because its a color that doesnt appear naturally and is easy to mask out. Nice effect, although the difference in luminance between the two shots gives it away. Notice how the back wall seems just a little brighter as the computer screen is moved around it?

  2. Any video editing software that can handle masking (read: 99%
    of them), can do this. There was nothing on the screen to begin
    with, it’s blank to entire time. The background is shot without
    the computer in place, the computer is then shot, and layered
    over the shot without the computer, and the screen on the
    laptop is masked so the underlying layer shows through. Finally,
    the OS Finder is overlaid on the laptops screen. WOuld have
    taken all of an hour including shooting.

    Looking for Christian

  3. Notice how the window popped up without any fingers on the keyboard?

    And the areas through the screen are brighter than behind the computer?

    My vote is that there is a Fresnel Lens attached to the laptop, causing a slight zoom and brightening effect for the items behind the laptop. The Windows popup is reflective from a source near the camera.

  4. You guys are too young :)

    Yers ago (about 1998) I had an IBM ThinkPad laptop which had a removeable screen back. The idea was you could place it on an overhead projector (OHP) (remember those?) for presentations. Since back then the standard method was to print out acetates to use on an OHP, this was a lot slicker, and hardly anyone had real projectors like today as they were very expensive.

    I bet its one of those ThinkPads.

  5. I’m gonna have to go with a video feed where the camera is positioned along the line of the video cam’s perspective. If it’s aligned right it should be a piece of cake to make the screen appear transparent!
    The hardest thing would be getting the video to play as your desktop background image, but definitely not impossible.

  6. All LCD panels are inherently transparent to allow backlighting. Remember those panels you used to put on top of overhead projectors? Merely remove the top of the laptop and the backlight, and you have this “illusion”.

  7. I beleive that is using what some very expensive cars are currently using. Its called heads up display. Some aircraft are usingthat as well.

  8. That display trick is not a trick at all. In fact, I beleive it is using the technology called heads up display. Some aircraft are using it as well as very expensive automobiles.

  9. I’m sure the chroma key is the correct answer, although it seems like some enterprising geek could figure out a way to use the Mac’s motion sensing technology to achieve a similar effect.

  10. Admiral, you can’t PHOTOshop icons into a video

    did you not read about chroma-key technique? that’s exactly what this is.

  11. I agree with the previous posts, definitely chroma keying.

    It is a relatively simple task to complete. Anyone with even a little video know how could do it…
    Simply follow these simple steps.

    1. mount your camera on a tripod, and start recording.
    2. set your computer desktop to solid blue/green (or any colour
    which doesn’t appear in your video’s background)
    3. move your laptop into frame, so the laptop is clearly visible in the video without moving your camera.
    4. Move the laptop around a bit.
    5. Capture your video in any pro editing suite which supports chroma keying.(Apple FCP, Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas etc)
    6. Select a frame from BEFORE your laptop is moved into the screen, and convert it into a still.
    7. Set this as your bottom layer of video.
    8. Clip the video starting after your laptop is in frame, and put it above the still frame.
    9. Apply a “Chroma Key” / “Blue/Green Screen” filter to your video, and play with the settings till your desktop disappears.
    10. Export, post on youtube and watch in smug smuggyness as laymen sit there baffled, and cnet mentions it.

    The real give away was the fuzz/blur around the icons. Without a really good camera, and a really evenly lit green screen, and a lot of TLC, a quick green screen effect is always given away by it’s blurry/steppy edges… think 1978 Superman “special” effects.

  12. If the laptop screen is truly transparent, shouldn’t the attachment point (where the screen is attached to the base) and wiring be visible? (duh!)

  13. Not transparent: How is the screen attached to the upright on the base, and where is the wiring? (nice job with the illusion though…..)

  14. I think that it works just like the invisible cloak. It has a camera on the back, and then the file that receives the video is the desktop picture. But I’m not sure if that’s really possible, is it?

  15. It most certainly is a chroma keying effect. You can duplicate it for your self by following this simple guide.

    1. Set up your camera on a tripod. Compose the shot to include a desk/table and wall, with some interesting, but stationary objects in the background. Start recording.

    2. Set your desktop background (Wallpaper) to solid lime green/bright blue… or if your video contains these colours, a colour which doesn’t appear in your video. Make sure the colour is not prominent on your dock/taskbar, or in your finder/explorer window.

    3. Move your laptop into the frame WITHOUT moving the camera, set it down and move away. Enter the frame, move lift and move your laptop around, making sure it is always in frame. Ensure you NEVER move your camera.

    4. Play around with a finder/explorer window, or some other app. Move the window around etc.

    5. Stop recording, and capture your video into a pro editing suite. The suite must support chroma keying (these include Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, Avid Xpress and Sony Vegas, amongst others)

    6. Select a frame from BEFORE the laptop is added to the scene, and convert it to a still. Set this still as your bottom layer.

    7. Clip your video to start where the laptop is in the screen, place this on a layer above the still.

    8. Apply a “Chroma Key” / “Blue/Green Screen” filter to the video layer. Adjust the settings until the desktop becomes transparent.

    9. Export, post to youtube and watch as the world goes crazy and asks “How did you make that transparent screen, and where can I get one”

    It is, in fact a very clever effect/idea given away by some poor lighting/editing.

    Chroma Keying is an art, not a science, and is very difficult to do well. Poor lighting and a what appears to be a cheap consumer digicam, with quite a bit of noise gave this one away. Around the edge of the icons/finder window/screen bezel there is a fuzzy blur. This is a quick and nasty way to get rid of “Steppy Edges” a symptom of, amongst other things, the keying process itself. However the poor lighting, and resultant noise also added to the effect.

    In order to do a good keying job, you need good, even lighting, a good video source (HDV, Betacam, 18 or 35 mm etc) and a lot of TLC. Like i said, it’s an art, not a science.

    Still, with just a little work, you can duplicate this effect almost exactly.

  16. If you could see through the monitor in the picture you would see the mounting bracket that should sit on the back. Also, how you you successfully mount a monitor like that? You need a backlight to get to the screen and if it is mounted to something you wouldn’t get an image there on the screen.

    I think the video is probably real, because an LCD can work without the back panel on it, you just need a backlight to it. If you look when the man picks up the laptop and moves it around you can see shadows changing on the right side which shows that the backlights are on and the back cover is off.

  17. This illusion could easily be made by having a green windows background while filming, then carefully replacing the background later with a picture of whats behind. With sufficient time on my hands I could make a film just like this.

  18. Thats a camera on the back for sure. Have seen such pics earlier but this definately is smooth. But the trick is camera on the back.

  19. The new clip with the guy moving the laptop, I would guess he does have a camera mounted to the back of the monitor, although he is moving it side to side he isnt changing the angle of the camera shooting the video we see and since the two angles are matched it looks transparent. So camera on the back feeding direct to the monitor into either an application or running the video as the back ground. This allows him to have another application over top of the application feeding the video or the background.

  20. I also agree with Noone. The fuzziness around the edge of the screen would be generated by the decrease in brightness at the edges of most laptop displays, which would change the chromakey color slightly enough to cause that. After that its simple enough to take footage of the area with and without the PowerBook in the shot, and then feed the laptop-free video to the chromakey.


  21. All LCD screens are transparent if you take their backs off. Basically and a very crude description, the screen is made up of 2 layers, one a simple polarizing layer, (like old style sun glasses that not only were dark but also cancelled out reflected light, since all reflected light is polarized, glasses were typically horizontally polarized whereas reflections tend to be vertically polarized) and one that can have its polarisation switched on and off with it’s polarization at 90 degrees to the fixed layer. As the switchable layer is turned on and off the pixels block and transmit light. Put it in a box with a back on and stick a light in it and you have an LCD screen.

  22. I would agree that it is pretty obviously using a green/blue screen. I was surprised that cnet would have an article about something this simple.

  23. 1 first off, this is not a laptop, it’s an iMac..
    2 second, back in the day they DID have laptop screens that were transparent, to place on overhead projectors.. i’m pretty sure there was a thinkpad model or two with this functionality.. so it isn’t so far-fetched.
    3 the perspective isn’t even perfect..

  24. Totally green/blue screen. Would be so simply to do with a static background. Look at the fuzziness around the dock, telltale chroma key.

  25. there’s a program for Macs which allows the user to play mpegs or quicktime movies as wallpapers. i think the user made a movie of the laptop’s movement and then used the movie as a wallpaper.

  26. Trust me, this IS chroma keying. For those of you who are STILL not convinced do it for you later (when the hockey is done) and post the results for you. I will post the original, and edited movies, and let you see the results for your self.

    I can not believe that anyone would be stupid enough to practically destroy a Powerbook by deconstructing the LCD.

    While software does exist to allow video to be played as wallpaper, it would be a logistical nightmare to ever sync up the video to MANUAL movement of the laptop

    And finally, if all this is not enough, open the video, pause it while the laptop is stationary and look in the top right croner of the laptop screen. Just to the right of the “Macintosh HD” icon you can SEE the remnants of the green background which the keying didn’t remove. Like i said, without very even lighting, keying is always obvious.

    But some of you will still not believe me, so, like i said, tomorrow i will duplicate the effect.

  27. Chroma-Key it is!

    I did some search for it and ended at the site “blog.wired”, they posted it at Nov 2005.
    following is a quote from there site:

    The clip was made by Jose Izquierdo of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and he explains how he did it after the link:

    Jose writes:

    My video was done using a simple technique.

    I set up my DV camera on its tripod facing the desk, recorded a couple of minutes worth of footage of the desk without the PowerBook on it. Then I changed the wallpaper of the PowerBook so it was of color GREEN. I placed the PowerBook on the desk and moved it around, opened and closed some windows and voila.

    Later on I imported all the footage onto FinalCut Pro and layered a background plate (desk without powerbook) below the foreground (video of the powerbook) and with the built in “Chroma Key” filter, I keyed out the green portions of the screen so the layer with the desk video would show up.

    It was a really simple trick.

    end of quote.

  28. maybe the screen truely is transparent, we have glasses and fighter pilot helmets that project a picture onto a nearly completly transparent surface, usualy at an angel that causes the projected image (i.e. the app that pops up) to be see on the otherwise clear pannel. Cars are starting to to come with features that are projected at the bottom of the windshields as well.

  29. -just take a large picture of the sink and surrounding area.
    -fullscreen the sink part of the picture on your desktop, dont show the rest of it
    -place the laptop in the sink accordingly
    -write a script for the macbook motion sensor that does the following.
    1 move the laptop left -> move over the large picture left
    2 move the laptop up -> move over the large picture up

    its not rocket science!!!

  30. look, Bitesize Pankakes Production, we dont need u to give us an entire manual of how to do this. ok? so stop wasting ur time and do something more productive, like prank calling people.

  31. I understand the chroma key, and also the masking…but what surprizes me is that none of you mentioned that it could possibly be a screen capture trick done with a “print screen” type tool, or even a “maximexed live video feed/capture” tho’ the latter would eat up CPU resources, I’d imagine.

    Neat trick, and adds great visual interest.

  32. A green screen / chromakey edge is clearly visible in the (badly substracted) fuzziness above last icon on the right, and around OSX dock below. Cristal clear explanation to me. Reminds me the late ’70 anchormen’s funny contours in front of a warzone background pic in the evening news !

  33. Come on you lot, for Christ’s sake. It’s one of the most simplest Photoshop jobs ever. Just a photo of the whole scene, monitor from behind, showing the chrome ‘arm’. Then just lose the back of the screen and crop to fit the screen.
    The icons can simply be plonked on afterwards.

    Are you all amateurs, or what???

  34. One more time… If it was a transparent display, nothing would be WHITE, including the contents of the window, it would be transparent. Like HELLO… ANYONE HOME????

  35. its a powerbook G4 and on apple computers using OS X u can have the desktop change on intervoles to different pictures in a folder (1 sec, 5 sec, 1 min, 5 min, hour being the intervoles) he probably took pictures put them in the folder and moved the computer to follow the pictures

  36. you guys should really keep up with your understanding of how technology works. LCDs let THROUGH light, they dont generate it – which is why they`re backlit in the first place so its easy to leave the back off and have it be transparent. Its just inverse to what your used to!

  37. I seriously don’t understand how you guys think this is anything but Chroma keying.

    It’s so damn obvious, you’re all making my head hurt.

  38. Sorry “Battycoda and Awesom-o” for making more fuss about this. But this here is a phoenomena

    ARE YOU GUYS KIDDING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Whats all this nonsens about chromakeying.


    Thats how the technology works. Thats why LCDs can be so thin.

    TIP: you can bust open a LCD screen, Put it ontop on a overhead projector like a transparent piece of paper(you know what i mean, its used in offices and schools) And there, you have yourself a “homemade video projector”

    You can also do something a bit more complicated like this too:

  39. its obvipously that chroma key thing because you can see all the green fuzz around the icons and stuff. you keep saying “all lcd screens are transparent” but thenwhy would that green fuzz be there I dont think he painted little bits of green fuzz on his wall do you?

  40. I would have to say that because all of these pics and vids are of Macintosh computers, I would have to assume that Apple makes customized computers that have a camera on the back. I would certainly buy one for myself if I knew more about them and if my theory is right about these special computers!

    1. actually the computer in use in this video is an HP I own an identical model. It looks nothing like a mac. Please do research first before posting useless comments

  41. hey, anyone here who thinks that a guy would risk a more than $2500 powerbook or macbook pro to just do some trick is insnane!!! this is chroma keying, not using transparent diplay or any camera on the back. if it would be camera on the back, the camera wouldn’t take the whole scene behind the laptop, try to open your laptop, look how much of the wall behind it is hidden behind the screen and the fold it down, and put a camera on the place the screen was before and take a shoot, put the picture as your background and you’ll see what i mean. i couldn’t be even that he took off back shell of the screen, because it’s too risky, those are very expensive laptops. this is definitely chroma keying, I’m 100% sure, if it is not, i promise i’ll eat my shoes!!! :D and please, excuse my bad english, i’m czech (I don’t even expect you to know where that is)

  42. This is such an easy trick if you have the right software. I did it in 5 minutes. Though i didn’t take the time to make icons appear with a transparent background, i made a simple video showing how easy it is. I took a solid green picture and opened it up and recorded. then went to adobe premiere and used a chroma key.

    yes…it’s that easy.

  43. It could indeed be chroma-keying, but as post #54 shows: using a chroma background on an *illuminated* screen might show some color on the keyboard or the hands as well — which I cannot see in the original video…


  44. Have you seen lately the man of the weather cast on tv? It’s just the same. It’s called “chroma key” and it’s a very old special effect used in every science fiction movie. A matte blue or green back that is digitally replaced for the required background. In the video you can see the invisible green shine of the laptop screen in the borders of the guy’s arm and in the keyboard too.

  45. There is no screen, just an empty laptop frame. If there was a screen, it would show something else on screen, like the photo above.

    There’s no chroma key. Notice how when he moves it sideways, the image isn’t flat at all. If it was on a screen, it would look flat and darker at times.


    1. you are totally right, this video simply shows a guy who has removed the original LCD screen and attached a clear plexiglass panel where the LCD screen would go. And dont start screaming no one would break a 2500 laptop for some illusion. Guess what, you dont have to break anything. If you know your way around a lap top, you can remove the LCD from the top and then use some old junk screen from a spare parts scrap store, replace the LCD within the laptop frame with a clear plexiglass peice, and voila, you now have an invisible screen

  46. The video is SOOOO stupid. You can tell that ifs SOO fake because if he had his computer turned on the desktop would show up so the video is gay and anyone who belives somthing else is a gaywod lol

  47. You know, I’m sure that you can see green on the guy’s arm at 0:04, when his arm is first on screen. The discolouration at the top of his arm. Or does this usually happen in videos? It goes away when his arm gets further away from the screen. It also pops up on his hand for a moment near the end.


  49. DUH… he has no computer screen. its all a hoax, i say. A HOAX! would you listen to someone who tries to pass off a fake computer as a real one, or would you listen to me, the supreme overlord of all humanity… HAHAHAAA.
    (no I’m not a freak, i live a very normal life with all the people who despise me, AKA, everyone)

  50. I would agree with Chroma key, but does that explain the consistent television screen movement on the TV?? That’s what stumped me. But alas, this comment is sure to be loser underneath all the others

  51. Clearly it is just the screen i mean if he HAD the desktop icons i would believe it but couldnt you just take off the back/top faceplate and leave the clear screen

  52. This shot is taken twice…

    One with the Laptop displaying a green background….

    Second with no Laptop at all… (ofcource with the camera in the same exact location.)

    What they do is they edit the 2 movies & mix them… by removing the green area in the first clip and replacing it with the same are in the second clip. (Editing programs are all over the net.. you just need a webcam & a Colored sheet “Green is not the only color”)
    the video behind the laptop is synced in both clips for a stronger effect.

    and here you are.. a PC with a transperant background…

  53. think people. he’s got a green screen in the background and a green backgrond on his laptop. it still has a screen and it’s nothing special

  54. Yes you guessed it: this is a F-A-K-E realizing that no camera on earth has the ability to project objects perfectly as they stand while moving,especially on laptops and he simply cut the screen out of the laptop. the picture is perfectly photoshopped though had me going for a second.

  55. It’s a cool illusion and I can tell you exactly how it’s done. There is no screen in the laptop. As for the icons, that is easy too, he uses a printable plastic sheet. The same type of sheets used for over head projectors, if your older you will remember these from school. No green screen. No camera. No photo-shop. It’s the simple solution that is right. :)

  56. Some of the edges are fuzzy, making me think the computer and person are a second video, and the background is blue-screened in. Then, in the overlay, the computer screen was probably green or blue, and blue-screened also.

  57. Hmm…it seems to me that there is just plastic in the place of the laptop’s screen. I could tell because of shines. If it was a green screen thing, I think the sines wouldn’t be there.

    But seeing all the different responses, I want to know from the original person who made this…How did you do it? Just so I know…XDD

  58. notice cam is locked down on tripod? well this is super easy to do and he coulve had his icons in there too, just set desktop bg to lime green, film bg plate, key out screen , make a small mask, after effects 101 stuff

  59. He’s put some green screen material over the screen and used a chroma key effect. The computer can’t be used to display a green screen due to luminosity and colour variations inherent in an LCD when it’s turned. The two giveaways that this is done with chromakey are:

    a) about the 7 sec mark there is some break up in the upper left corner where the green screen wasn’t quite flat or had some variation.
    b) around the edges of the screen you’ll see periodic variations in sharpness as the matte isn’t flat, so there are variations when the key is applied.

    Nice trick.

  60. See the green light reflection on the arm of the user indicates the screen of the laptop is green. that means he makes a common FX used in video called chroma inlay. the inlaid video was previously recorded then played and synchronized with the shot…

    1. While a webcam could work, it would have to be pretty good to be able to work like this. Not only would there have to be almost no lag, but the webcam would have to be built into the computer to give such an accurate portrayal of transparency, which rarely face the outside, and tend to lag.

  61. Unlike the picture, there are no icons on the screen of the laptop. It’s either not there or just a clear sheet of glass or similarly transparent material. And even if there were icons, stickers on a transparent sheet would look completely normal.

  62. Umm, did anyone even think that, “hey where are all of the desktop icons?” He popped out the screen, we cant see any of the icons, i dont think its real. This illusion is a fraud. :(

  63. or he took a previous video with the lap top and moved it in the exact same fashion he did while taking the video when he was replaying it and had the same scene on the tv playing. However that would take some intense precision that I doubt a human being can possess but hey who knows.

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