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Zachary Breitenstein
building a small green screen studio
on Jul 24, 2012 at 7:34:58 pm

Greetings,
I'm a high school teacher tasked with creating a green screen studio for use with a Newtek Tricaster. We'll have at least two people sitting in front of the green screen. The room we have 20'x15'x10 (LxWxH). We could spend up to $2,000 but would prefer to keep it under $1,000. I need advise on green screens, stands, and lighting. In my initial search I was interested in Digital Juice's Chroma Pop Studio
http://www.digitaljuice.com/products/products.asp?pid=2175
Along with the Westcott - uLite Two Light Kit (120VAC)
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/592999-REG/Westcott_404_uLite_Two_Lig...

Alternatively I was also looking at the Westcott - uLite Green Screen Lighting Kit (120VAC)
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/739617-REG/Westcott_655H_uLite_Green_...

Thank you!

little, yellow, different,
zac


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Mark Suszko
Re: building a small green screen studio
on Jul 25, 2012 at 4:09:24 pm

The chroma-pop is great if you need it to be portable, to go out into the field, or just use outdoor light and bounce cards for some reason.

For your school studio, for a fixed news desk set, I highly ercommend you DIY using my favorite method:

Get a roll of vinyl kitchen/bath flooring, the ugliest, and therefore cheapest, the store is blowing-out on sale. What the pattern or color looks like makes no difference, as long as the backside or "felt" side is flat and even. You can buy 20-foot or longer "end rolls" and leftovers like this for as low as $20 complete.

While at the home center, buy a gallon of Kilz brand LATEX white primer. Not the oil-base, the LATEX one. Prime the back side of the sheet vinyl. Then add your blue or green paint, mixed from a color sample chip you brought to that home center. This will avoid you having to pay near 100 bucks for Rosco paint.

When the vinyl is dry, use 2x4's and screws to sandwich one edge, as a rigid structure to hang the sheet from. Bolt that to the wall, or hang it from a grid or from sturdy c-stands, let it naturally curve onto the floor and run forward to the cameras. This will give you a VERY sturdy chromakey or limbo cove, you can walk on it, put furniture on it, whatever. The sheet vinyl can be carefully rolled up to save room when not needed. It is very easy to clean scuffs on this material versus cloth or paper, save a bit of the paint for touch-ups and additional items like model-holding sticks, a pillar or cube, or a door-sized flat (Menards sells scratch-and- dent hollow core doors very cheap, instant desk top or set flat) to let people peak around a chromakey corner or make an entrance thru.


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Zachary Breitenstein
Re: building a small green screen studio
on Jul 26, 2012 at 2:16:57 pm

Wow. Very helpful. Thank you kind sir!

little, yellow, different,
zac


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Zachary Breitenstein
Re: building a small green screen studio
on Jul 26, 2012 at 6:37:02 pm

Any thoughts on lighting?

little, yellow, different,
zac


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Mark Suszko
Re: building a small green screen studio
on Jul 26, 2012 at 11:02:28 pm

Who, me? Well, a classroom studio is small, lacking ceiling height, and full of conflicting color temps. You will have to black out any windows first. Halogen lights make a lot of heat and draw a lot of power, plus the additional air conditioning to damp the heat. So florescent lighting is what you should aim for. While I always suggest buying real instruments for TV work (because they are cheaper and better over the long haul than home depot junk), a standing chromakey set is one of the few places you might get away with cutting some corners. What I'm thinking of is a pair of ceiling lights that take 2 or 4 tubes, the longer the better, but see, you're going to replenish the tubes from the janitor's stock, so match the size of the overhead fixtures already used by the school. Stand those units on end, attach them to cheap c-stands with some MacGyvering, and use them to wash the sides of the green wall, from left and right, close to the wall. You might need a third one washing down from the top, out of camera frame.

Light the green separate from the talent. Talent should be their height, plus one foot, away from the green wall to reduce reflected spill on their shoulders, etc.



go here for a how-to on the DIY flo lights

http://www.bluesky-web.com/light-kit.htm

You could make one more and put a diffuser on the front made of thin white paper, or cloth, or plastic shower curtain material... and use that for a portable key light for the chromakey talent, and other shots in the school. Again, you're getting your tubes for free, the clever part is your color temp will stay matched in every location except maybe the gym. Gyms are too variable and usually, lit by something nasty.

For a classroom, a couple of cheap halogen PAR can lights from Smith-Victor or American DJ or the local pawn shop, could be hung from your drop-ceilig grid using a scissor clip from markertek ( The "AC Whitney"'s' of Video). Those could be aimed for permanent key and fill lights for a news desk set, and put on dimmers, hopefully. Make barn doors for them using cinefoil, or sheet metal painted with high- temp BBQ/ engine block paint.

That's the way people do it on a teacher's budget:-) I still recommend the best policy is to save up for and buy quality used pro instruments a piece at a time, as you find them. But the stuff outlined above will at least have you operational by August/September, while you raise more cash.


BTW, one other trick for your class: You can use a powerful classroom video projector, angled so it shines on a screen behind the talent without hitting them, and have a live effect similar to a chromakey, with less time and effort.

Powerpoint will work for feeding that, but to improve it, first build slides in photoshop, with keystone correction warping already applied there, in template form, then export to ppt.

You will have to work at lighting the scene without washing out the projection, while still properly exposing the talent, but it eliminates live chromakeying if you can't afford switchers and everything it takes to do it right. Quite a timesaver for more simple, introductory-level projects and the kids can prepare their materials in advance on their time. The projector's already in the room, usually. Beware fan noise: using lav mics instead of camera- mounted shotguns will help.

I also recommend you build a teleprompter the camera can shoot thru: there are guides on the web for making these cheaply, but do insist the camera shoot thru the beam-spliiter glass, as you can always tell if it's just a monitor by the side of the lens, it always looks fake.


And most important: have FUN! ...and tell us/ show pictures of the studio here when you're done!


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Bill Davis
Re: building a small green screen studio
on Jul 29, 2012 at 4:28:35 am

Just because people seldom talk about this....

I actually pretty much have come to see green screen shooting as more a problem than a solutions.

For two reasons.

First,, every single green screen studio shoot you do requires you to add a compositing step to your workflow. So there's typically a lot more post every time you do it. And we know how anxious clients are these days to pay for more post.

Second, just like the hallowed teleprompter, it tends to unnaturally diminish the smoothness and the naturalness of performers except the real professionals who can appear natural in such unnatural circumstances.

I've had a first rate green screen rig for more than 20 years now. I used it more and more in my first ten years years, and less and less over the next ten. Now it's something I do only if I can't work out how to do things any other way.

To go further faster, put your talent in situations where they're the most comfortable. Green screen is seldom a comfortable place. And don't forget that unless you're shooting THINGS agains the GS, performance is generally the foremost element in driving video quality.

FWIW.

"Before speaking out ask yourself whether your words are true, whether they are respectful and whether they are needed in our civil discussions."-Justice O'Connor


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Mark Suszko
Re: building a small green screen studio
on Jul 29, 2012 at 4:36:18 am

All true, but this is a classroom studio and budget we're talking about. There will be neither time nor budget for shooting outdoors or on locations, or for building actual sets. That is ideal for chromakey, and nobody will have very high expectations so when you pull it off well, it gets more respect. The sets they DO build will be in photoshop and Blender, most likely. This is why they also need a collection of geometric primitives: boxes, rods, columns, and a door-sized flat... all in green, to help sell the effects.

If they had a video toaster and could do the keying job on the fly, it would be a huge time saver in post, agreed. But school budgets are super-tight these days, and they are lucky to have a TV studio, unlike my high school, that turned the studio into a detention room or something a year or two after I graduated.


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Elaine Ewing
Re: building a small green screen studio
on Aug 9, 2012 at 5:22:38 pm

Here is a video from Bammo- Weapons of Mass Production that will help you use simple paint color to create the perfect green screen. May not be suitable to show in class, but there is useful info in the video you can use :)







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