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Green Screen

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Thomas Hughes
Green Screen
on Feb 13, 2010 at 2:54:38 am

Is there a quick and easy way to do green screen really well? It seems everywhere I look I see really good examples of it: on youtube, by high school kids, college kids, hobbyists, on local tv stations; yet every time I have a client ask for it, my editors break out in hives telling me it’s really difficult and it’s critical how it’s lit, etc.

Hasn’t it gotten easier over the years? Aren’t there tools for doing it that didn’t exist years ago, that make it easier?

I have a client who asked for a sample. I told her it’s easy to do, we’ve done it many times but because I haven’t done it in over a year, I’ll put a sample together really quick and have it to her next week. I want to make sure I'm showing her a really clean sample.

Any input would be appreciated.

Thomas H

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Zane Barker
Re: Green Screen
on Feb 13, 2010 at 9:49:53 pm

[Thomas Hughes] "it’s critical how it’s lit"

He is ABSOLUTELY right. It is also EXTREMELY important to have a proper back ground to shoot against.

Hindsight is always 1080p

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Jeff Carpenter
Re: Green Screen
on Feb 15, 2010 at 6:42:36 pm

What video format are you using? DV and HDV make chroma keying very difficult to pull off. Other formats have different degrees of ease. We use XDCAM now and it's not perfect, but it's a lot better than our DV camera used to be.

Also, what camera do you have? Many of them will output analog component signals AHEAD of the digital converter so you can get an un-compressed image that way. This means it's possible to run live video from the camera to a computer with a component capture card and record it directly to the hard drive as a higher quality signal than the camera's native format.

This can go a long way towards making the key work well.

Other small tips:

* Make sure the green is lit evenly. To test, slowly iris up and watch for zebra stripes in the camera monitor. They should show up everywhere at about the same place.

* Get soft lighting on the green by setting up white foam boards and hitting them with bright lights to reflect it back at the green. Don't light the green directly.

* Don't make the green very bright. A strong, neon-green is NOT needed and sometimes makes things more difficult. A dull, flat green is ok. You need good saturation, not high light levels on that green.

* Backlight subjects with a tiny bit of purple to counter the green directly around their hair.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Green Screen
on Feb 16, 2010 at 3:57:29 am

It's magenta you use to counter and suppress green spill, not purple. And a straw or "bastard amber"/yellow gel is used for spill reduction if the backdrop is blue. Good keyers can also apply this in post.

If you are having to use gels like this to kill spill, IMO your lighting is wrong or your talent is too close to the backdrop. My rule of thumb is that actor's height plus at least another foot gives good separation from the green wall. This not only reduces spill but also keeps shadows from hitting the backdrop.

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grinner hester
Re: Green Screen
on Mar 9, 2010 at 1:20:56 am

You can find cheap drops on ebay now for less than 100 bucks. Regular 3 pt lighting on the subject with a good wash on the drop and you can eyedrop it. It's not at all like the old ultimatte daze.
Get Keylight for AE and it'll make you a rock star with the poorest of lighting.

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