How to Green Screen from Home
Whether you’re at home trying to key yourself out of a background or you’re a small production company trying to save money, shooting on green screens is a fun and practical way to creatively get around the problems of shooting on location – such as your messy bedroom or unfinished garage. Here are some tips to help you use what you have to pull off a successful green screen shoot from just about anywhere.
Setting Up Your Green Screen
If you have a small green screen kit hanging from a backdrop stand, make sure the screen is as taught and flat as possible. You may need to even steam out your screen. Having creases or folds that create shadows or slight changes in the uniformity of color will make keying more difficult. If your screen isn’t sewn to a tension loop, you can toss it into the dryer.
Lighting a Green Screen
One of the biggest challenges with green screens is lighting your screen correctly. Make sure that the light is even across the whole screen. Like with the creases, you want to avoid shadows. Light the screen from every direction possible. If there are any hot spots or shadows caused by your lights being too close to the screen, then march them back a bit until it starts looking even again. Ideally, you want the green screen to be just a tad brighter than how you’ll be lighting yourself.
Avoid Green Spill
You want to stand or sit a few feet away from the screen to avoid any spill bouncing off of the screen onto you. That is what’s happening when it looks like someone is outlined by a haze.
How to Light Yourself
How you want o light yourself will depend on the style of the scene you’ll be keying in. If you’re at the beach, you might want to use a warmer key light. Regardless, having a hair light will help make you pop against the background. But if you’re just sitting at a desk, then 1 simple light in front and slightly above eye level should work.
For a very lo-fi approach, you can get yourself some blue or green poster board from an office supply store and tape it to the wall. Use a couple of lamps to light it evenly from both sides. Sit in front of it but not too closely. Lastly, light yourself. The cameras built into laptops and phones are pretty wide, so you might need at least 4 poster panels to actually fill the view.
Why Green or Blue?
The reason why blue and green are used for this is because they sit at the opposite ends of red and orange – the colors most commonly found in various skin tones. Usually you won’t be wearing both green and blue clothing. If you are wearing one or the other, pick the opposite for keying. Blue tends to spill less but takes more light to look right. Green tends to perform better for daylight keying, or daylight-looking scenes. Blue is better for night/night-looking scenes.
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