limbo set (1983)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Dec 12 20:02:41 UTC 2005

>From  Edward Jay Epstein's "Hollywood Economist" column in today's Slate:

To accommodate this digital outsourcing, a movie is split into what
amounts to two different productions: the live-action movie that's
shot in a studio or on location and the CGI movie that's created on
computers. During the live-action part, the star often works on a
so-called limbo set, aptly named because the actor is in a sort of
limbo stage, standing, for example, in an empty room, wearing a green
spandex jumpsuit, and mouthing lines of dialogue--which will later be
filled in at a looping session--while holding imaginary objects and
reacting to imaginary dangers.

"Limbo set" hasn't always referred to a set to be filled in by CGI via
bluescreening. It can also refer to a TV or movie set left
deliberately empty for filming purposes.

1983 _Journal of Marketing Research_ 20(4) Nov. 340/1 Open on two-shot
of Muppet-type hand puppet called "The Choco-nut" in limbo set with
eight-year-old boy.
1988 S. Kozloff _Invisible Storytellers_ 50 Woody Allen's _Annie
Hall_...starts with Alvy Singer on a limbo set speaking directly to
the camera.
1989 _Houston Chronicle_ 19 Aug. 26 (Factiva) I knew the camera was
turned off, but I was in what we call 'the limbo set,' and there's no
on-air light to tell you if the mike is hot.

Earlier cites can no doubt be found in TV or movie scripts.

--Ben Zimmer

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