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Tips for shooting a tablet screen

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Cisco McCarthy
Tips for shooting a tablet screen
on Oct 8, 2013 at 6:39:26 pm

I was wondering if anyone had some tips on the best way to shoot and/or composite tablet/laptop/computer screens? I have seen commercials that pull this off beautifully with the screen and device both being bright and vibrant. I often need to have hands reaching in and interacting with the device (mostly a touch device). I have tried the green poster board method, and it does work for keying out the hands but it usually gives out a ton of spill. I have also tried to shoot the device with the actual live screen going but it is hard to get the screen very bright and vibrant even with the screen brightness turned all the way the up.

Has anyone done this kind of stuff and what was your method?


(posting in Cinematography too)

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Roland R. Kahlenberg
Re: Tips for shooting a tablet screen
on Oct 8, 2013 at 9:09:46 pm

Bright and vibrant are subjective - I see no reason why you can't shoot the actual screens and colorgrade in post to achieve the look that you want.

With regards to methodology, I've shot on a black screen and used the Screen and Add Blending Modes for the screen inserts. If lit well, you should be able to extract a luma matte of the fingers/hands that intrude into the screen area. This eliminates the requirement for rotoscoping the fingers/hands. Ensure that the talent doesn't move the fingers/hands erratically. Not only will this make it easier for post but also leads to less distraction for the viewer (completed movie).

You may also want to shoot a safety still of the black screen - to capture the screen highlights. This shot should be orthographic and of a high resolution so that it can be used in conjunction with Corner Pin tracking data to overlay over the screen inserts.

For tracking the screen/phone, there's nothing better than mocha. It is ideal that you have at least three corners always in view - not a strict requirement for tracking with mocha but it does lead to a more trackable surface area.


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Imagineer Systems (mocha) Certified Instructor
& Adobe After Effects CS6 ACE/ACI

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