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Seamless vs Muslin for ChromaKey

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Alexander Perlman
Seamless vs Muslin for ChromaKey
on Apr 5, 2016 at 7:50:52 pm

Our company has a white cycwall with Altman Spectra Cyc lights pointing at it from a grid.

They been setting the lights to chroma green for green screen shoots but the keys look terrible for a number a reasons that I won't go into (and are probably obvious to you guys).

I'm encouraging them to mount a green screen to the wall that can be pulled out or rolled down for chroma key shoots.

Do you think that muslin or seamless would be more appropriate in this context?

If we use seamless, we can mount a 12 ft roll above the cycwall and roll it out for green screen shoots.

If its muslin, we can slide it over from the side of the cycwall. My main concern about Muslin is folds in the material. I can clamp the side near the edge of the cycwall but the other side won't have anything it can be clamped down to.

I'm leaning towards seamless, but just want to make sure that I'm not ruling muslin out prematurely.

Thanks in advance for your advice and expertise.

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Todd Terry
Re: Seamless vs Muslin for ChromaKey
on Apr 5, 2016 at 8:20:22 pm

Yeah, you'll get better results from a real greenscreen rather than trying to paint a white cyc with green light, that's for sure.

It sort of depends on your usage and how often you need it. If this is something that needs to be put up and down on a fairly regular basis, and you don't need it to be huge, then seamless is probably the way to go. It's cheap, easy to roll up and down at will (especially if you have a roller system), and fairly trouble free. You are going to be limited in width, though, whereas with a cloth background you can get a really huge one (our green backdrop is 10x20, and I know even much larger ones are available).

If it is a more permanent installation where you can more or less consider your stage the "green studio" and don't need it for anything else other than infrequent uses where you need the white cyc, I'd probably go with a cloth background, and find some way to stretch it tight.

I'm a little bit of a hypocrite here, as we use a cloth greenscreen but it does go up and own frequently. We have a system that keeps it pretty well stretched tight top-to-bottom and side-to-side. That will eliminate most of the wrinkles. We are also careful that we fold it up (more like a combination of roll and fold) so that it stays in pretty decent shape for the next outing. If it has been stored for a while, we'll use wrinkle remover on it. Downy makes a product that does that, but it's kinda a big job (and would get expensive). We found a generic off-brand version at a local dollar store for about a buck a bottle and I bought lots of it and put it in a pump-up garden sprayer. Spray it good, when it dries the wrinkles are gone. It works extremely well, with two caveats... firstly, you have to do it at least the day before a shoot, as it takes a while for the stuff to dry... otherwise, you look like you have a wet drop. Secondly, the stuff is scented... so for a day or two your stage is going to smell a bit like a laundromat. Not bad, but definitely noticeable. It didn't bother me at all, but some people are more sensitive to smells.

I'll probably install a seamless one someday, I've got some drops in the roller system that are practically never used... I could swap one out for a green one and have the best of both worlds.


Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.

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Mark Suszko
Re: Seamless vs Muslin for ChromaKey
on Apr 7, 2016 at 9:23:45 pm

Based on our experiences, seamless paper would be your best bet from the standpoint of ease of use and cost efficiency. With care, you can widen the paper by overlapping two rolls a little bit, but it's finicky.

Paper can be pretty tough: our guys just took a half a roll of spare white photog's seamless and hand-painted it green using rollers, it was great on the floor as an extension to match our hanging greenscreen portion. Not indestructible, but will last a year or two with care.

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Craig Alan
Re: Seamless vs Muslin for ChromaKey
on Jun 23, 2016 at 12:52:59 am

We light a white cyc with banks of green LEDs. Gives us a pretty wide key. As long as the talent is out of the spill area and the subject is lit well it works fine. I find the NLEs a lot less picky than they used to be and there are plug in apps that will make keying even better. The only thing that makes it a bit tricky is the key lights need to not dilute or cast shadows on the CYC. But with enough separation this isn't too hard. I'm not saying a green wall isn't better but this allows us fast set ups and many other b.g. options when not keying. The LED banks have several colors of bulbs that are controlled by a panel.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.

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