Anyone can use a green screen to shoot their film, especially with the technology available today. In this article, we're going to discuss how to shoot a green screen on a budget: the lighting you'll need, and the techniques you can use to improve its quality.
To start, you'll need an HD camera (720p or higher) and a green screen. If you don't have the screen, all you need is a large piece of thick cloth or muslin in a bright green colour, and something to hold it upright. A couple of lighting stands and some clamps would suffice.
Setting up your green screen
Much like when recording sound, the room in which you set up your green screen could define how difficult the process will be. We advise always trying to use as large a room as possible. Why?
Don't have a space big enough? Use a website like Sharedspace to find studios for rent. Prices are usually negotiable, so don't be shy.
Green screen lighting on a budget
Lighting a green screen has two objectives: Light your subject appropriately for the intended look, and create an even tone on the screen itself to make post production faster. This is easiest with lots of lights, but you can get away with just three.
A three-point setup is where you point a key light directly at your actor from the front, and a secondary light on the side to act as a fill. The fill should also bleed onto the green screen, helping cut shadows from your key. Your third light will be opposite the fill, pointing straight at the screen – evening out the colour tone.
Other equipment to use
Anyone trying to shoot a professional-quality feature or short film would be wise to invest in buying or renting technology like the Blackmagic Ultimatte 12. This is a real-time hardware compositing processor, which basically means that you can key out your green screen as you shoot and see what it looks like with the virtual backdrop.
Consider also the Green Screener app for Android or iOS. It can identify uneven lighting that the human eye isn't sensitive enough to see, which should help you flatten the tone.
Getting the performance right
Equipment isn't going to be your only challenge. In fact, actors can quickly change how fast or slow post production will be. These are our top three tips for getting a green screen performance right!
If you have any further questions about the equipment you'll need or the techniques for shooting a green screen, pop into DVT and talk to our team today.
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