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Need Advice: shoot individual sport on-location? OR with Green Screen / Chroma-key?

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Sarah Galloway
Need Advice: shoot individual sport on-location? OR with Green Screen / Chroma-key?
on Jul 9, 2010 at 5:00:21 pm

Dear Cow-Colleagues:

I'm in Script phase for a short video which features an athlete performing an individual sport such as the high jump.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_jump

The projected video program is going to focus on an individual, aiming to reach his/her personal-best performance.

The video display design requires that nearly all background elements be keyed out.

I'd appreciate any advice you may give about what shooting location may be best (videotaping in HD):

1) Should I shoot at a track and field and rotoscope out the background? (advantage: can rent space and regulation equipment at same time.)

OR:

2) Shoot in a green screen studio. (Pro: no rotoscoping. Con: need to rent or purchase expensive athletic equipment; space may not be big enough for an event such as the high jump.)

The high jump works well for my story as it's an individual sport, the bar is literally raised, it requires fine muscle memory of many steps which is the focus of my story.

Anyone had success in shooting an event like the High jump in a green screen studio? Any tips you can share?

If the High Jump proves too expensive to shoot green-screen or rotoscope... I'll re-write my script. I work for a non-profit museum and my production budget is under 10K; I have to write what I can afford to shoot.

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide.

Cheers,

Sarah


Sarah Galloway, Senior Media Producer
Exhibition Department
The American Museum of Natural History


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john sharaf
Re: Need Advice: shoot individual sport on-location? OR with Green Screen / Chroma-key?
on Jul 9, 2010 at 5:04:24 pm

Any reason not to use a green screen at the practical location?

JS



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Todd Terry
Re: Need Advice: shoot individual sport on-location? OR with Green Screen / Chroma-key?
on Jul 9, 2010 at 5:13:28 pm

I second John's suggestion... that's definitely what I would do, too.



T2

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






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Sarah Galloway
Re: Need Advice: shoot individual sport on-location? OR with Green Screen / Chroma-key?
on Jul 9, 2010 at 5:15:42 pm

I hadn't thought of that! Great tip.

Have you had success with mobile green/blue-screen? Is it very expensive? Are there specialized shooters who do mobile green/blue-screen?

I should have mentioned: the landing mats in the high jump are blue--maybe even blue-screen blue. And a high-jumper runs about 20 feet, jumps nearly 8' high and the landing area is at least 12' wide.

—Sarah



Sarah Galloway, Senior Media Producer
Exhibition Department
The American Museum of Natural History


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john sharaf
Re: Need Advice: shoot individual sport on-location? OR with Green Screen / Chroma-key?
on Jul 9, 2010 at 5:18:49 pm

Obviously, you'd have to carefully frame and compose your shots and place a large green screen (or several) in just the right spots, but it can certainly be done. The services of a skilled grip and plenty of grip equipment would be appropriate.

JS





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Sarah Galloway
Re: Need Advice: shoot individual sport on-location? OR with Green Screen / Chroma-key?
on Jul 9, 2010 at 5:24:56 pm

John and Todd,

Thanks very much for the advice. I've been writing this script featuring a high-jumper and it occurred to me: "is this even shoot-able?" Good to know it can be done on location. I do plan to hire a crew; and I'm going to storyboard every shot.

Cheers,

Sarah

Sarah Galloway, Senior Media Producer
Exhibition Department
The American Museum of Natural History


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Mark Suszko
Re: Need Advice: shoot individual sport on-location? OR with Green Screen / Chroma-key?
on Jul 9, 2010 at 8:37:49 pm

Anything you can write is "shootable"... for enough money... ask James Cameron:-)


Have you looked around online to see if there isn't already some footage like this that you can purchase? COW member Eran Stern I think has a company that sells nothing but stock-footage green screen elements like this. Also Artbeats and Digital Juice may have something you can just buy off-the-shelf. You would be prudent to research if this is indeed cheaper than or equal in cost to shooting your own.

Assuming you *have* to have a fresh one shot, say, because you need them to be wearing a certain shirt or because it has to be a recognizable person, your choices are to spend money on the shooting outside in the park/athletic field with green screen elements, or to spend more time and thus money in post-production editing, doing what is called "digital rotoscoping", which is the painstaking process of cutting the guy out from the background by hand, a frame at a time. IF you have never done that before, you are looking at a LOT of time to spend doing that.

But you're the only one who knows what's going to be more expensive overall, since in your situation the editing/compositing time might be for all practical purposes "free", whereas getting the green material shot in useable quality and getting crew to set it up and, most vital, someone competent to shoot it right may cost more.

If the green screen isn't shot well, you'll STILL have to resort to the rotoscoping process. Some tricks of shooting can help minimize problems though.

For example, by shooting with a lot of low-angle shots, which are mostly blank sky, you have much less roto work to do in the first place, you might even be able to pull a blue screen key off the blue sky for free, or a luminance key, if the sky is overcast. Shooting with a shallow depth of field makes everything behind the jumper so blurry you might not need to do any keying.

And that gives me an idea for a third choice for you. If you can very narrowly pre-define the few EXACT camera shot angles that will be used in the final version, and you use a very shallow depth of field, then instead of setting up a platoon of green screens like the artist Christo, you could go to Kinko's and blow up 2 or 3 stock photos of a stadium crowd or whatever, stretch those on large wooden frames as if they were stage theater flats, (yes, these could even BE painted flats) and stand them up outside in the park. Frame the camera precisely. The lens will blur the poster/theatre flat thing enough at that distance that it will "read" on-camera like the real thing.

Remember what I call the "Kurosawa Rule": Nobody else will know what was or wasn't there, for real, *outside* of the actual frame of the shot. It doesn't NEED to be, only to *appear* to be, and if you only set up the believable initial premise and visual cues, the audience's brains will fill in the rest. Don't build or pay for anything the audience can't ever see.

I get that name for it from a story of an interview of the famous Japanese Director. The interviewer was amazed by a certain shot of an antique warrior castle used in the movie, asked him why he placed the camera in that particularly dramatic angle, what the significane was. Akira replied that that was the one *available* angle that showed the whole actual building, and that a fraction to either side would have revealed skyscrapers and telephone poles and etc. The audience of course knows nothing of this, and if you first put up a shot of a huge empty plain, they will assume the following shot of the castle is set on that plain.


Shoot your runner/jumper with all extreme low angles, long zooms from the front, and him running into the lens, with short depth of field, and maybe a high-angle shot from a ladder, looking down onto the landing area after the jump, and maybe you won't need ANY chromakey or rotoscoping!



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Sarah Galloway
Re: Need Advice: shoot individual sport on-location? OR with Green Screen / Chroma-key?
on Jul 9, 2010 at 9:22:02 pm

Thank you, Mark for that very thoughtful summary of my situation!

I didn't see any keyed high-jump footage in my initial search, but will check out fellow-COW member's available green-screen work.

Hiring a crew to shoot what I need is the way to go as there are a number of story elements that need to be included.

Thanks for the tips on camera angles and depth of field. I agree— yards and yards of green-screen fabric isn't going to automatically create separation. I need to hire an experienced Sports/Green-screen videographer with crew.

I am going to have a very detailed storyboard before shooting!

Best,

Sarah


Sarah Galloway, Senior Media Producer
Exhibition Department
The American Museum of Natural History


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Mark Suszko
Re: Need Advice: shoot individual sport on-location? OR with Green Screen / Chroma-key?
on Jul 9, 2010 at 10:35:06 pm

I got my Aron/Eran's mixed-up.

Stern is a greenscreen compositing expert, but not the company partner I mentioned. I was supposed to be talking about Aharon Rabinowitz , who has a side business called "Crowd Control", that sells all kinds of pre-matted greenscreen stock footage, including sports shots. The URL is:


http://allbetsareoff.com/

But the bad news is that I just checked it and the site decided to do some spring cleaning apparently, and they are currently in the middle of moving their web site hosts, so the cool interactive catalog of theirs is offline right now.

I suggest you bookmark it though, and keep checking back with Rabinowitz, maybe contact him by email, as he may already have just what you need.





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Sarah Galloway
Re: Need Advice: shoot individual sport on-location? OR with Green Screen / Chroma-key?
on Jul 12, 2010 at 2:41:27 pm

Thanks, Mark!

I hope Crowd Control is back soon; looks extremely useful. I'll contact Aharon directly.

Best,

Sarah

Sarah Galloway, Senior Media Producer
Exhibition Department
The American Museum of Natural History


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