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Re: Shooting a white background instead of green screen?

COW Forums : Cinematography

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Todd Terry
Re: Shooting a white background instead of green screen?
on Mar 26, 2012 at 6:18:23 pm

Your best option is neither of those... best is to shoot it on greenscreen or bluescreen WITH a well-lit background.

If that's not possible, I'm not sure what I would do, but I don't think I would ever choose a luma key over white.

Shooting on black instead of white would negate any "spill" from the very hot/bright background... usually when chromakeying that means some green reflecting back onto the talent (and it's still a luma key... just black instead of white, of zero luminance rather than 100%). In this case with a white background, it might mean some very hot highlights on the talent that would also key out. Not good. You also have, in effect, a gigantic very hot all-encompassing soft backlight. You might want that, but you might not. In most cases I would think not. You say you are wanting photorealistic insertions into other environments, therefor for each shot your talent should be shot with lighting as if they were actually on the location... and it's doubtful that most locations would have a gigantic super-soft and super-bright backlight.

A "difference matte" is where you shoot a scene... and then you have the talent leave that scene and shoot a clean plate without them. Then when applying a difference matte, the only thing that is matted is what is different in the two scenes... which in this case would be the person. Difference mattes work ok, but not great often times. They tend to work best with busy or non-uniform backgrounds, so a pure white background would be just about the most uniform thing there is. You also must have a locked-down camera (so absolutely no camera moves). You also have to remember to take a clean plate without the talent for each setup... although if the background is just pure white you might not have to do that (although I would, just to be safe). I'm not sure it's a technique I would try in this instance.

Greenscreen wtih good even lighting is the best bet. And again, try to match the lighting on your talent with the lighting in whatever environment you are using as a background plate as closely as possible.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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