So this was one instance where it was easier for us to setup a portable green screen studio, rather than require volunteer talent to travel to a studio, plus it saved some dinero from el presupuesto (budget), but alas, not without some pain during the setup, which included Patrick slashing his finger on sharp metal.
Green screening a scene is a challenging technical feat in telling any story, it creates a technical headache in post-production if you do not light the screen right, along with lighting the talent, it can become a huge story deterrent. It can easily distract a director away from focusing on telling a good story.
Before this shoot, we did some preliminary tests in Final Cut Pro X and found that the new FCPX keyer Apple included does an amazing job if you light your green screen right – and this was with highly compressed DSLR footage from a Canon 7D and 60D. I was thoroughly impressed with the default settings in Final Cut Pro X’s keyer, I would highly recommend it when you have to key compressed DSLR footage, even though I still think FCPX has a long way to go..
We used a green screen from EEFX.com. They sells great screens that do not easily wrinkle, they are worth the cost in my opinion. If my facts are straight, these are the same portable screens used in some shots found in the Matrix.
Here are some simple key points to remember if you have to light a portable green screen:
Light the green screen with at least a three point lighting system.
- I soon found that we really should have had 4 lights on this particular shoot, or at least more wattage in the three soft boxes we brought. Now keep in mind, these lights can be anything from lights you buy from Home Depot to a soft box photography light kit with a set of soft boxes (which is what we used). Although the soft box kit we purchased from Amazon came with cheap stands, other than that, they worked great.
Light your talent with a key, a fill, and a rim light.
- The rim light here really helps kill some of the green spill that hits the back of the talent. It will also aid in the realism of the final compositing in post, allowing you to place your talent in your chosen environment with matched lighting. Of course you’ll want to try and match the lighting of your talent with the environment of your final composite.
Separate your talent from the back of the green screen.
- When you separate your talent from the green screen with as much distance as possible you lessen the green spill on the back of the talent and eliminate shadows casted by the talent. You also allow greater fall off with your camera, blurring out the green while keeping your talent in focus. This makes for an easier key in post-production.