How to Shoot a Green Screen Scene:
It is crucial to plan ahead and visualize your final scene when shooting with a green screen. Concept art and storyboards can help with this process. But your main goal is to determine what is real and what is not in your scene. This means you want to know what will physically be in the scene, and what will be added in later during post-production. If your scene is particularly complex, with layers of green screen, you’ll want to establish a clear guide to everything.
In certain cases, you may need real props on set that your actors can reference. In behind-the-scenes shots you will often see tennis balls hanging on the green screen set. These provide the actors with visual reference points. Lighting is another huge consideration. Think about lighting your character in order to match the lighting of the environment they will populate. This will make a drastic difference when it comes to the final chroma key composite, and layering everything together.
Here’s some steps in more details:
- Planning Your Green Screen Shoot –
The time to calculate the scale of your final scene and the best lenses for filming your actors. If you are planning on creating a wide-angle scene, it makes sense to film your subjects at the correct scale. This process primarily relies on knowing the field of view of the lens used to film the background element, which is often referred to as a background plate. It’s essential that you shoot both the foreground and background with the same focal length lens, or at least as close as you can guesstimate if you don’t know the lens used to film the background plate. The more notes you have from the original background shot the easier this process will be.
- Lighting a Green Screen –
There are three non-negotiable rules to lighting a green screen: The lighting must be even, soft and diffuse, the green screen must be lit separately from the subject.
When lighting your green screen background, the goal is to get the lighting as even as possible. This helps ensure that the green coloring is even, with no hot spots or shadows, which will help with the chroma key process in post-production. You will also need to light your actors and the green screen separately, preferably with the actors and the green screen background at least six feet apart. Remember to match the lighting on your actor to the scene in which they’ll appear once the green screen is composited.
- Getting a Clean Chroma Key –
Chroma key refers to the technique of compositing two images (or video clips) together based on color hues. We are using a green screen to replace what is behind our actors. You will often hear the term clean chroma key when editors are referring to green screen composting. A clean chroma key composite is the end goal.
One of the first is deciding you should use a green screen or blue screen. On today’s digital cameras, green will likely give you the cleanest key. However, if your actor has blonde hair or green clothing, you’ll likely have better results with a blue screen as green can spill into light-colored hair.
Random tips for Working with Green Screen:
Once you’ve got all the techy stuff out of the way(For the techy part you can check out our next blog on Chroma Shoots) , there are still a few helpful tips that will help you use green screens in more creative and effective ways. Here are the last several tips that are definitely worth on:
- Remember, you can go portable with your green screen.
- Use green screens for driving scenes so your actors can perform safely. (Just remember to roll down the windows.!)
- Green screens are also useful if you want to put VFX in your shot later on in post.
- Green vs. Blue? Simple. Use a blue screen when there are natural green elements (like trees, grass, and plants) in your shot.
- Green screens are great for creating the illusion that your characters are in a different place.
- Review your footage as you shoot it. Look especially for shadows being cast that may fudge up your key later on.
Chroma screens in various colors and Lights are available on rent with Paxton Equipments.