Shooting against a green screen?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Sydkid, Mar 27, 2010.

  1. Sydkid

    Sydkid TPF Noob!

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    I am going to be shooting actors in costumes against a "green screen" for a website. I am primarily a landscape photographer, and need help with photographing people indoors. What kind of lighting do I use? I shoot with a Pentax K20D, with kit lens.
     
  2. BKMOOD

    BKMOOD TPF Noob!

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    Check out Youtube. There are a number of tutorial videos on greenscreen photography.

    I shot the cast of my wife's theater group in front of a green screen once. It was a freaking mess. I didn't know what I was doing and everyone turned out green. I did a little studying and here is what I learned:

    Light the actors and the background separately. Make sure the background is evenly lit. Make sure the actors are standing at least five feet away from the green background or green will spill all over them. Do this and they should turn out pretty good.
     
  3. Sydkid

    Sydkid TPF Noob!

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    Awesome advice! Thanks! I'll check out YouTube - it hadn't occured to me before. Thanks again for the tips.
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    This is called chromakey, by the way. And yes, light the background and the subject separately, keeping the subjects far away from the background to prevent color bouncing back onto them.

    Actually, you don't really need to use a green/blue background (if the intention is to digitally extract the subjects and replace the background). All you need is a background that contrasts from the subject....it could be a simple white or black, just as long as your subject doens't blend into the background.

    You see blue/green chromakey backgrounds all the time, on movie sets...because (I think) they use a much more automated system to extract the subject...but for still photos, it's not imperative that you use a colored background.
     
  5. anarchyjim

    anarchyjim TPF Noob!

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    Often you can get away with two big umbrellas lighting the subject and background. Assuming you can put 5-6 feet between the subject/background this works pretty well. You don't want to light the background if you can avoid it. The more light on the background, the more spill you'll potentially have.

    Also, you want at least 5-6 ft to prevent the green from the background spilling onto your subjects.

    As for background color, if you're using chromakey software you need to use green or blue. It won't work with other colors or black/white. If you're using a different masking technique/software, then white or gray can work. It usually requires a little more work dealing with the edges (particularly hair) than chromakey, but you don't have to worry about spill as much.

    There's some additional info in an article I wrote on setting up a green screen shoot for photography. A lot of the info out there is for doing green screen for video, which has different challenges and is not always applicable to photos. Here's the article:

    http://www.digitalanarchy.com/primatte/studio.html

    Also, beware of tutorials that show people with slicked back hair (or no hair). The hard part of masking is hair. Look for masking tutorials with people with lots of hair... those are the ones that'll help you in the real world.

    cheers,
    Jim Tierney
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2010

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