Green Screen For Beginners
Green screen is a technology that uses chroma keying (or color keying) allowing you to superimpose your subject on a virtual background or, simply put, it replaces your actual background with a desired one. This is used because the object can be easily differentiated from the background, as the color is not found in human skin tones or most clothing.
Why use a screen?
This process has been around for quite some time and is quite simple. It can save costs and achieve results comparable to shooting outdoors or using expensive background sets. You can also create incredible scenes that are impossible to shoot using conventional practices.
There is a wide misconception that only a green color can be used with Chroma key. This technology is not limited to using the green spectrum of colors; in fact blue screens are more prominent in the practical world. So why keep it limited to using these colors? Is there a specific reason to choose only greens and blues?
All the solid colors- red, yellow, violet, pink- can be chosen for the screen but the bright green shade is preferred to make use of the contrast feature. People rarely wear bright green. Therefore, it becomes easy to create a distinction between your subject and the background. Other colors, frequently found in people’s attire, may result in a lack of contrast between the subject and the background. This may creating flaws in the final video.
Setting up Chroma key is quite straightforward. You don’t need very expensive equipment. You only need a Digital Camera (even a smartphone) that shoots HD quality video, computer, or laptop, with your video editor, and (obviously!) a green screen background.
There are a number of free and paid video editing software packages available. Wax and VirtualDub are free. Adobe Premiere Pro CC and Sony Vegas PRO are examples of paid video editors.
The material of the backdrop is a much more important factor than the color. There are a variety of options you can use to make the background green (or blue), you could paint a wall of your garage and shoot there. This is one of the easiest choices, and you just have to take care that the chosen wall is not textured, as texture generates shadows. If you want to use a material, foam fabric or muslin is preferable, as it absorbs the light very well. The only thing to avoid is paper because it is shiny and causes light to bounce.
NOTE: Collapsible panels are also available if you don’t need to shoot in landscape mode, as these panels are usually not wide enough.
The secret for a successful green screen shoot is the proper use of lighting. The only thing you need to achieve for that perfect take is uniform lighting. The best way to accomplish this is with a studio lighting kit. You will need to set up 2 sidelights at approximately 6 feet from the background, and at a 45-degree angle to obtain the desired results. Some important points are:
- Ensure that your subject isn’t creating a shadow on the screen. Use 2 lights positioned on either side to avoid ‘hot’ spots in the frame. Your subject should be lit separately.
- Always make your subject stand 6 to 10 feet in front of the screen When there is limited space you may opt for 4-6 feet, but you will achieve better results with a greater distance.
- Most importantly, keep the screen lit evenly or you will need to re-shoot.
- You might want to use a floor light to get rid of shadows around the feet of your actor.
- Make sure you record 10 seconds of video without the actor present so that you can use that footage during editing
- Having a microphone (instead of the camera microphone) will give you higher quality audio.
- The background material should be about one stop below the foreground to make the background slightly darker.
- If the walls or ceiling of the room are too close to the subject use black material or paint the walls black. This will absorb any extra light bounce which may create problems when editing.
The use of a green screen and Chroma keying is a simple technique and very affordable. If you do decide to go with a green screen, make sure you shoot enough video and edit carefully. Both of these factors play an equally important role in obtaining an optimum result to dazzle your audience.
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