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Tips for shooting a tablet screen

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Cisco McCarthy
Tips for shooting a tablet screen
on Oct 8, 2013 at 6:38:16 pm

I was wondering if anyone had some tips on the best way to shoot and/or composite tablet/laptop/computer screens? I have seen commercials that pull this off beautifully with the screen and device both being bright and vibrant. I often need to have hands reaching in and interacting with the device (mostly a touch device). I have tried the green poster board method, and it does work for keying out the hands but it usually gives out a ton of spill. I have also tried to shoot the device with the actual live screen going but it is hard to get the screen very bright and vibrant even with the screen brightness turned all the way the up.

Has anyone done this kind of stuff and what was your method?

Thanks!

(posting in After Effects forum too)


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Todd Terry
Re: Tips for shooting a tablet screen
on Oct 8, 2013 at 7:37:10 pm

Not tons... but I've had to do this a fair number of times in commercials spots... the last one just a couple weeks ago....

http://fantasticplastic.com/portfolio/news078.html
http://fantasticplastic.com/portfolio/news088.html

All the screens of phones and tablets in those two spots were greenscreen composites.

We, too, have tried the "green poster board method" with some success (in fact that was the method in that second link above). But since then we've done it a different. We're still greenscreening but we're now having the tablet and/or phone display the solid green as an image. Before a shoot, I just load a green .jpg that I can display full screen (I have blue images, too... just in case). Also, I've made a couple of .html files that live on our server that just display the solid colors on a browser. That way if I'm on a foreign or new device, I can still call up the solid-color screen on anything (as long as I have a wifi connection, of course).

Displaying the color seems to work a lot better than the poster board method. It has perfect and even illumination, never smudges or gets dirty, and you have to worry much less about hand shadows affecting the key.

After you get a good key (and I've not had any troubles when keying with something decent, like KeyLight or Ultimatte), and have your insert screen motion tracked perfectly... then comes the task of getting the keyed screen to look real. The biggest mistake I usually see are screens that look too bright and perfect. Fixing that usually means turning down the contrast, and brightness. And sometimes chroma. Then we almost always add two more reflection layers... usually of whatever the environment is (lights in a room or whatever), and we will often also add a reflection of the subject that is looking at the device as well (you have to remember to get this footage on location, obviously). These layers have to have their own (and different) motion tracking as well. The viewer's reflection is often a technical impossibility if it were practical (you likely wouldn't really see the viewer's face at that angle in the real world), but it does help sell the shot.

T2

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



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Mark Suszko
Re: Tips for shooting a tablet screen
on Oct 8, 2013 at 8:38:01 pm

I would only add this suggestion to Todd's idea: if I was making the blue or green JPEG, I would add 3 or 4 little marker tracking points on the all-green image, probably solid filled triangles, in a shade just a hair lighter than the green backing, not enough to interfere with the keying-out, but with these, before you even DO the keying, you can create the tracking solution. A brave guy could just put a gray screen up with tracking dots, so there is motivated light coming off the screen and spilling onto the hand that works it. Then the rest becomes a roto job, where the hand obscures your replacement layer.


It is harder to work with a live practical app on the tablet or phone, and capture it well. If I have the chance, I would try to get the thing immobilized in some kind of clamping rig, hidden from the camera angle, which makes compositing go faster and easier.


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Rich Rubasch
Re: Tips for shooting a tablet screen
on Oct 10, 2013 at 1:36:28 pm

I believe some of the iPhone commercials locked down the phone and then the talent interacted with it....the phone stayed solid so tracking was not an issue. Spot still worked.

Rich Rubasch
Tilt Media Inc.
Video Production, Post, Studio Sound Stage
Founder/President/Editor/Designer/Animator
http://www.tiltmedia.com


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