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Lighting a small Green Screen / Cyclorama room for Video

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jessica raiford
Lighting a small Green Screen / Cyclorama room for Video
on Jan 14, 2014 at 11:19:08 pm

This community has been really helpful, so I'm hoping someone here can help me out with this.
We are in the process of turning a small room in our office into a green cyclorama room to shoot video commercials in (picture attached). The room is 9' tall, 17' wide, and 12' long.

We are new to this and can use all the help we can get. If you're able to or willing to help, specifics (links or brand names) would help a ton!

The budget is relatively low, but I guess suggestions around $1,000 would be good. But feel free to give suggestions as if I had a higher budget as well.


I basically need to know exactly how many lights I should get and what to do with them (I don't know much about lighting and am more of a post production person).



Thanks in advance!


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Bill Davis
Re: Lighting a small Green Screen / Cyclorama room for Video
on Jan 15, 2014 at 1:26:27 am

I"m worried that you may have the cart WAY before the horse here.

Green screen solves one specific kind of problem. Matting a person (typical a presenter) into a virtual world/set.

A 3-wall coved green screen solves a narrower subset of that one kind of problem - allowing crossing two-camera green screen shots or presenter following limited arc pans.

Is that what you primarily need for your videos? In other words, is that the majority of the content of the videos you need to produce?

Green screen is difficult to light evenly even when it's just a flat plane - a cove is more difficult because you have to light for 3 axis shots - that fact, combined with a low ceiling as in your space is - well - difficult.

Tell us more about the problems you're trying to solve, and then perhaps we can better help you solve them.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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jessica raiford
Re: Lighting a small Green Screen / Cyclorama room for Video
on Jan 15, 2014 at 9:29:20 pm

I'm planning on shooting presenters/talent with a small range of movement (and the ability to shoot them head to toe).

I want even lighting that will make best use of the green and make it easier to key out in after effects.


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Bill Davis
Re: Lighting a small Green Screen / Cyclorama room for Video
on Jan 16, 2014 at 5:12:12 am
Last Edited By Bill Davis on Jan 16, 2014 at 5:15:42 am

The head to toe shot is going to be dependent on the geometry of two distances. Camera to talent - and talent to the GS back wall. The issue is that the farther from the back GS wall you can position your talent - the more you avoid spill from the green causing you key problems on stuff such as blond hair, bald heads, and other general reflective stuff in your shots. But just as critical, is the distance from the camera to the talent. You don't mention the camera or lens type you're using, but it matters. Wider lenses placed closer to a talent can cause body distortion. It's better to move back and zoom in. But that presumes more camera to GS distance. Often a LOT more.

Personally, I'd do two things. First, mount curtain rods that fly blackout drapes that you can pull over the cove walls so that you have green ONLY directly behind the talent - NOT extending out on the sides. This is because if you light green walls that extend beyond the plane where your talent is standing - that green can easily reflect off the sides of their face, nose, etc. And suddenly they grow "holes" on the shiny sides of their cheeks or noses reflecting those side walls! Makeup can help if you HAVE to have green sides, but thats another discussion.

That relatively low ceiling is also going to be an issue for lighting. GS lighting presumes you can position lights so that the light fallsl evenly on the GS Surface. With a low ceiling - and a relatively shallow back wall to talent distance, you have to bring overhead lights OUT farther than if you can light from over AND under - or over AND side to side. Head to toe shots presume you want other lights that fill the bottom of the cyc so that there's not a lot of light fall off distance top to bottom. Side fill makes those cove walls something of a problem rather than an advantage. Fill lights on the sides placed upstage, obviously kill the general usefulness of the cove sides for keying. So the black side drapes will solve that if you want to light the key from the sides.

Sorry to be such a 'debbie downer" here, but what you've built seems a bit like something someone "saw" being used for keying rather than what they've actually had experience working with themselves. If I'm wrong, I apologize.

If you look at true green screen sets - for example at NAB for the virtual work - you'll see they're typically FAR deeper than what you've got here and allow for WAY more back to front separation distance than what I'm seeing in your set. That does NOT mean your set is useless at all. Just that the geometry means you're going to have to light around some problems. It's certainly useable, but it's just as likely going to be finicky to get clean full body keys. You'll find that you might have much better luck moving your talent out farther and settling for a head and torso framing.

It's going to depend on talent, costume, the lighting rig you can assemble and the camera geometry of what you're going to be using.

Green screen is not rocket science, but it IS kinda tricky to do really well. Hopefully, you'll find out that your system just somehow "works" and none of this is a problem. Only actual use will reveal that in the end. Let us know how things go.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Lighting a small Green Screen / Cyclorama room for Video
on Jan 16, 2014 at 3:32:41 pm

Bill just gave you thousands of dollars worth of advice. My two cents: how much ceiling do you have above those drop-ceiling tiles" You're going to need every inch up there.


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jessica raiford
Re: Lighting a small Green Screen / Cyclorama room for Video
on Jan 17, 2014 at 11:03:25 pm

Thanks, appreciate it.
I have about 1 foot of extra ceiling beyond those tiles.

Taking into consideration how small the space is (and that we may need curtains to block the sides), what about specific lights/brands (links would help)? For instance, something like "you'll need 3 of X type of light up top and 3 of X type of light in the back... etc.?


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Todd Terry
Re: Lighting a small Green Screen / Cyclorama room for Video
on Jan 17, 2014 at 11:26:40 pm

I don't think you are going to have too much choice except to go the DIY route and light your cyc with florescent shop lights, the Home Depot or Lowes variety.

The constrictor is your $1000 budget. To light this the "right" way with "real" instruments (Kinos, or whatever other method you choose), you can easily spend a grand (or more) on each instrument... and you're going to need several.

Unless you can multiply your budget by a factor of at least a few, that doesn't leave much choice other than shop flos for this type of work. The good news is that they can work very well... the only issue I've ever found with them is getting over the embarrassment of having a real DP come in and see them. But they do work, and are dirt cheap. They've been discussed many times on the COW (and how to easily modify them), just search "shop lights" especially in the Lighting and Cinematography forums.

Of course, this is only for wallwashing and evenly lighting your greenscreen space... I'm not talking about lighting talent, just the green... but I think that's what you were asking about. Of course with talent you'd want to light them very separately, using whatever kind/style of instruments you need to get them to look appropriate for whatever particular environment you are compositing them into. Just make sure you are lighting talent and greenscreen as separately and independently as possible.

Considering this is a permanent installation (that I'm guessing will be used a lot) and you admit "I don't know much about lighting," It would probably really behoove you get a real DP or a really good gaffer to come in for a day and help you with the space. Getting it setup right in the first place will save you miles of headache and frustration later and help you get good composites right off the bat without having to struggle for days with impossible keys. This forum and the advice you've received so far is a great starting point, but it's really hard to get the kind of advice online that you can get from a pro who can walk on the stage and see exactly how everything is firsthand and can help you select and precisely position instruments.

T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com



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jessica raiford
Re: Lighting a small Green Screen / Cyclorama room for Video
on Jan 23, 2014 at 1:03:20 am

Thanks everyone for being so helpful and patient!

Todd, I think I'll go with Shop Flo Lights. I wasn't able to find the post about how to modify them?

Also, if you have the time, could you maybe give a link (to lowes or home depot) to what would make for the best light?

Also, being as specific as possible would really really help me. As in "put 3 shop lights here" "put 3 x lights there"

I know that's asking a lot, but anything helps.


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Bill Davis
Re: Lighting a small Green Screen / Cyclorama room for Video
on Jan 23, 2014 at 5:00:29 am

Jessica,

Here's the problem. I could tell you "measure the side to side dimension of the wall and mount two 4 tube fluorescent banks equidistance from the GS wall - separated by X feet. But If I was to stand in your space and look around, there might be half a dozen reasons why that simple theoretical formula wouldn't work. Maybe there are already overhead lights hardwired in the "sweet spots" - maybe the set depth means I HAVE to put talent closer to the back wall then I'd like - in which case I might NEED to keep the lights closer to the back wall - and that means I'd expect significant hot spots and I'd want to mount them wider to combine those two light focus areas into a smaller background.

This is the issue.

Lighting STARTS with the theory - but then you always have to adapt it to the particular situation you find yourself facing.

Todd is also precisely correct in that your talent key, fill and backlight plot is every bit as critical as your GS setup. And lighting geometry plays in there as well. For instance, if you can't get your talent key lights far enough in front of your talent, you can easily get into "raccoon eye syndrome" for talent with even modestly deep set eyes.

Move the talent back to deal with that - then you get into the talent keys hitting your GS background and making potential hot spots.

Such is lighting!

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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