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How do I fake light illumination on an actor or object in front of a green screen?

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Filip Stillerska
How do I fake light illumination on an actor or object in front of a green screen?
on Dec 1, 2018 at 9:37:34 pm

How do I fake light illumination on an actor or object in front of a green screen? For example, let's say that I've got a talent in front of a green screen holding a fake lightsaber, more specifically a stick that doesn't light up; after I've removed the green screen, added the background and created a laser that replaces the stick I want to make it seem like the blue light from the saber is illuminating the actors face.
Is there a way to do this that gives me somewhat realistic results?


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Filip Stillerska
Re: How do I fake light illumination on an actor or object in front of a green screen?
on Dec 1, 2018 at 9:40:28 pm

Example image (this is what I want to achieve): https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DNkG3SKWAAMkGRt.jpg:large


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Dave LaRonde
Re: How do I fake light illumination on an actor or object in front of a green screen?
on Dec 2, 2018 at 2:24:32 am
Last Edited By Dave LaRonde on Dec 2, 2018 at 7:38:22 pm

I looked at that example shot. I say that it was lit that way. It is ALWAYS easier to do as much in an effects shot in the camera than it is to do it with effects.

Why? Because it will always look more realistic. I have done it a couple-three times myself. Nothing like real-life light spill! So much easier! You just have to plan for it and it's worth it!

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Filip Stillerska
Re: How do I fake light illumination on an actor or object in front of a green screen?
on Dec 2, 2018 at 10:28:56 pm

I agree with you 100% Dave, I was just curious if anyone had a smart post-production approach to this. I've found a way to achieve this in post that gives me decent results, but it's probably best to aim for real-life light spill in the future.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: How do I fake light illumination on an actor or object in front of a green screen?
on Dec 3, 2018 at 4:10:43 am

I agree with you, sir! There's nothing like the real thing.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Blaise Douros
Re: How do I fake light illumination on an actor or object in front of a green screen?
on Dec 3, 2018 at 8:16:56 pm

In the example you gave, they definitely used a real light--they used ForceFX sabers on-set for that exact reason, to create realistic interactions with the wielder.

How you do it in post will depend on how much time you want to spend on it. You could probably build a series of masks to simulate facial contours, etc., but I think that's impractical.

What I would do is create a secondary adjustment layer over your actor, post-key, that duplicates and greatly softens whatever Glow effect you're using for the outer edge of the blade. Then, I'd set it to a blending mode like Color, or maybe Screen, and then make sure that it's using your green screen matte so that it doesn't affect ANYTHING on the background. The trick here is that it needs to be set wide enough that it illuminates the actor's face beyond the edge point of the visible lightsaber glow. The idea is that (a) it uses the matte so it's only visible on the actor's face and (b) it starts showing on their face well before the edge of the lightsaber comes anywhere near--so the closer it gets, the more intense the light is.


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