Green screen Vs Real studio
Green Screen Vs Real Studio
As a rule, trying to trick audiences with green screen is a bit daft, because, – frankly – audience’s aren’t fooled and because most of the time it’s done badly and looks cheap anyway.
But there are ways to use Green screen that are effective and as long as you’re using it for what it does well, green screen can give you a lot of options.
Be warned though, it’s a bigger edit than shooting live action in a real studio.
Just do you know – if you subscribe you’ll catch an upcoming video on shooting correctly for green screen but for now here’s the pros and cons for green screen filming vs a real background so you can start planning.
A real background is easier to set up and get right for beginners.
You’ll look more authentic because the world around you is real and you’ll look part of it.
Real backgrounds make for a simpler edit. What you see on the viewfinder is pretty much what you get afterwards.
If you can learn green screen lighting and good chroma keying skills in the edit, you can introduce some really consistent looks that will help your overall brand.
Text and graphics become more dynamic, colours from your branding can be incorporated and lots of layering and relevant backgrounds can help with storytelling.
BUT! The colour separation that goes on in the edit to remove the background green is a bit like learning a language. Easy to say a few words and say them confidently but everyone else is going to notice how bad you really are. It takes time to make it look half decent.
At its simplest you could just put in a single still image background or any image that suits the kind of information you’re providing.
If you can take the time to get the perspective, lighting and colour grading right, a simple green screen backdrop like an office or a lifestyle image can look good if dropped out of focus a little.
It is possible to make images like this work as if real but allow for a bit of time to get the set up right and then always shoot with the same look for consistency and sanity!
How to film on a green screen – The a beginners guide
If you’ve tried green screen and it was a nightmare or you’re about to try it and want to know what’s important, this is for you.
First of all, interestingly, you will need a screen that is green.
I built a large one with a cove so that we could regularly shoot sequences that are full length but you could pull off the same effect without the full length shots if you took care with any green background – even a painted wall!
There are plenty of affordable green screen options on Amazon for getting started with a green screen.
Well actually it could almost be any colour but this iridescent green is popular as it’s the most opposite to skin tones and it’s unlikely to be in clothing.
You’ve got to keep in mind the green screen’s magic is in the simple post production effect of removing the colour green from the image to replace it with something else. If some of that colour is on the person or a prop that you don’t want to ‘disappear’ then, of course, you’ve got a problem in post.
You would think that should be an easy problem to solve because all you need to do is not have green skin or wear green clothing right? Not quite.
The very fact that there is a well lit green space behind you or your subject means that green light can spill on to them and therefore get erased by chroma key.
Solving green screen issues
To a degree, most chroma key issues can be solved in post with some playing around but the rule of thumb is not to have to solve much, if anything, in post so getting the lighting correct here will save you a lot of time and give you a better result anyway.
So here are the basics you can do in the shoot to get clean footage ready for the edit.
1 – The lights don’t matter
I know in other videos we’ve talked about getting quality lighting and that’s true for lighting humans and real backgrounds but for a green screen it doesn’t matter. We are using two basic builder’s lights that are frankly horrible and harsh but they are bright and can throw light evenly enough for a green screen.
If you’ve watched our earlier videos about colour temperature, you might be thinking, hold on; that horrible cheap light can’t be good for lighting skin tones and you’d be right!
Well done! Except it’s only lighting the green screen with horrible light and as long as it’s evenly horrible light it doesn’t matter! Afterwards, you’re going to remove all of it anyway.
So you can either place your cheap and cheerful builder’s lights at the bottom on either side or if for a more permanent and tidy solution get them up high on either side.
Whichever you choose, they need to point inwards on the angle towards the centre of the screen behind your subject.
Now on a pro camera you’ll have a waveform monitor that can show you that the light is even – look at this flat line across here. Great! What if you don’t have a pro camera?
There are apps like MAVIS – Pro Camera that will tell you for a few pounds or dollars if your light is even but they do expect you to know a little bit about the tech.
The most basic way I can offer a check on your green screen lighting is to take out your smartphone and prepare to take a photo of the whole screen.
Using the manual exposure – on most phones this is done by holding on the screen til the square appears and then going up or down with your finger to adjust exposure – you’ll be able to over expose the image on your phone.
What’s important is: does it all go to white at the same time?
If not – if it’s blotchy – then the light isn’t even.
You need to play around with those lights til it is. Usually you’ve got hot spots near the light so just move it out from the wall a bit.
2 – Where you stand does matter!
You or your subject need to be in front of those builder’s lights at a minimum. Ideally humans should be at least 2 metres from the back of the green for 2 reasons:
First, you don’t want to be casting shadows on the screen from the subject lights which will cause problems in the edit
And second, you don’t want and green light splashing back on to your subject which will also cause problems as described earlier.
3 – Use a hair light
Even if you get all of this right, you may still have problems with those who have fair or blonde hair. It can easily pick up a green tinge so having an extra light (not a builder’s light this time!) that is high and behind your human, will help to separate them from the screen.
Now go, shoot yourself! With a camera.
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