shippable green screen rig
I have a series of chroma key jobs coming up which will require air travel and FedEx. (And yes, I will be using FedEx from now on; I've been lucky for a long time, but finally got nailed by Southwest when my gear didn't make the plane.) I have a couple of weeks before the gig, and I'd like to streamline my approach to chroma key.
I've been using a 10x20' chroma key cloth. Pro: large, so I can back talent way off screen. Cons: requires two big stands plus crosspiece, lots of pony clamps, and steaming to take out the creases.
I've seen a number of pop-up screens advertised, and would appreciate feedback as to a good one for interviews. What's a good surface to use? I'll be using either a 1/2" or 1/3" chip camera, so the background is likely to be pretty much in focus.
I think all of the interviews are of just one person at a time, so perhaps something as small as 5x7' would work. (I can use garbage mattes for the edges of the wide shot.) The "gotcha" that has bothered me with these is not their small size unfolded, but rather their very large size when folded and boxed for shipping. But the sheer hassle of the large 10x20' backdrop, or even a smaller backdrop, has me interested in alternatives.
On the lighting side, I've been using a pair of Mole Nooklites on dimmers, but I may want to use a couple of Tota-lights for this with lower-wattage lamps, if they're available. I had one heretical thought: with a backdrop this small, have any of you succeeded in using just one carefully-aimed light for the backdrop?
Any other advice would be most appreciated. I want to travel as light as possible and get the job done.
[Bob Cole] "with a backdrop this small, have any of you succeeded in using just one carefully-aimed light for the backdrop?"
Westcott makes some nice spring-loaded backs. There is a place called the greenscreen store online that has lots of goodies too.
If you always have to steam wrinkles out, mayhap it is the wrong kind of cloth. I always recommend the stretchy spandex type from RoseBrand in New York; Extra-wide, fireproofing applied, matte finish and easy to stretch with some bulldog clips to kill wrinkles. Try their online catalog.
[Mark Suszko] "There is a place called the greenscreen store online that has lots of goodies too."
Couldn't find that store. Do you have a URL?
I'm still looking for the most portable solution, easiest (most compact) to ship, set up and shoot, with a minimum of wrinkles.
I'd still be interested in opinions about the respective merits of the spring-loaded backgrounds from Westcott, Lastolite, and Photoflex.
eefx.com sells foam-backed cloth and claims that it resists wrinkles, even if you need to fold it in addition to rolling it up. I'm thinking of pairing the foam-backed cloth with a Chimera panel frame (probably the 72x72").
Any more input, anyone?
The Chimera frame is cetainly a great idea ...as is the foam fabric ...which is also available at Rosebrand. The spandex fabric Bob recommended from Rosebrand may be your best bet however. I've brutalized that stuff and it bounces back with nary a wrinkle -- It's much thinner than the foam backed version too.
[Dennis Size] "The spandex fabric Bob recommended from Rosebrand may be your best bet however"
I just entered a request for a custom quote for the spandex fabric from Rosebrand, and would appreciate one more bit of advice.
The eefx people recommend grommets every two feet for the foam-backed fabric. I'd think the thinner spandex would need grommets every 12" or 18" -- does that sound right to you?
I personally own the foam product from eefx. (12x12 grommeted greenscreen cyc.) and can confirm that while after unfolding it may have the visual appearance of wrinkles - as soon as you light it, there's something about the foam based fabric that diffuses the light in a way that ALL the wrinkles essentially disappear.
I love the thing.
Mine is paired with an Avenger H1200N frame which comes in 4' sectons so it can be configured as either 4', 8', 12',16' or 20' by - depending on the frame sections you use and the fabric options you carry. I also think they got the design of the frame just right since it's a series of square tubes - but the inserts between the tubes are round. This has been VERY useful the couple of times that wind has compromised my rig and it's blown around during assembly - Instead of bending the frame tubes, each section is free to twist internally. Smart design. The frame, however is quite heavy - it's shippable - but I wouldn't want to take it anywhere as a carry-on.
About my only concern about the spandex idea is that it's not very opaque - if you need to rig it somewhere with any kind of back lighting present, you're gonna have big problems. (Watch out for those ballroom exit signs!)
My thoughts...for what they're worth.
I do fly dates with portable greenscreen a lot, usually shooting on a Panasonic HVX-200 or HPX-170. I use Wescott's Scrim Jim 6x6 frame with their blue/green reversible surface. Has velcro on the edges for tighter fit than the Chimera frame. I use one standard kit stand and a 2 1/2" grip head to hold it up. I usually pack the Scrim Jim frame parts, the surfaces, stand, Sachtler tripod, and a couple lights in a golf case. For talent light, I use XXS Chimeras bags with 500w totas & rings. Lightweight and compact. In general, I can get away with a Pro-light, 200w Pepper, or Arri 150 as hairlight, a Prolight on a baby plate behind the talent to light the greenscreen. All this goes in 2 checked baggage around 50 lbs. I take the camera in a Pelican carryon case, my other carryon is a backpack with my computer with veescope and Adobe OnLocation, hard drives, long firewire cable, and enough clothes for the trip...
About your traveling setup:
Is the 6x6 background large enough? Would you suggest a larger one if shooting two people?
The 8x8 ScrimJim is just 1/2 pound heavier.
Do you ever have to iron out wrinkles or does the velcro really create enough tension to flatten wrinkles?
Does that one Pro-lite really work to provide even lighting... I guess it works well enough or you wouldn't suggest it. I'm just responding to the apparent need for very-even lighting on green bg's.
The 6x6 is large enough for a shot just above the waist for one person. Back the camera up and zoom in some. For two people, I would use the bigger rig. Make sure the individual pieces are not too big to fly with; I usually carry tripod and greenscreen rig, and greenscreen lighting in a hardshell golf case.
I've never had to iron out the scrim jim fabric; it's double sided, green on one side, blue on the other, and made of heavy enough material that it doesn't show wrinkles once stretched out. The velcro keeps it pretty tight.
Regarding lighting... my preferred setup is to do an XXS chimera (the really small one) on either side, using a 500w tota and Chimera's speed rings, lighting the talent separately. The Pro-light with medium diffusion works in a pinch; I just finished 20+ interviews on this setup for a major corporation at a tradeshow in Orlando.
Try to avoid shootiong DV and especially not HDV on greenscreen, by the way. (HDV works fine on a lot of stuff, but the long-gop compression and limited samples makes it not play well with keying, in my experience)
Hope this helps.
Thanks, Julian. I'd like to have the option to interview 2 people... so I'll probably have to go with the 8x8 size. Thanks for all the info.