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Weekly Video Tip: Using Green Screen Technology

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By Stephen Schweickart

RISMEDIA, January 4, 2011—Have you ever wondered how the meteorologist on the five o’clock news interacts so effortlessly with the animated weather map? And have you ever asked yourself how Elliot and E.T. gracefully flew through the starlit sky via bicycle in 1982? The answer is green screen or chroma screen technology. When done correctly, this is a simple and affordable way to enhance your video production. As always, there a few things to keep in mind in order to successfully master the green screen.

First of all, a clean screen is a happy screen. Try to avoid walking on it unnecessarily. Most importantly, light your backdrop and your talent separately. When lighting your subject, use the three-point system; hair, key, and fill. Alas, the hair light is pointed toward the subject’s hair. The key light is the most direct light, shining on the talent’s face at a small angle. Try not to blind him or her as they still need to be able to read from the teleprompter. The fill light takes care of any remaining shadows the hair and key lights left behind. Then, light your background and be sure to eliminate dark spots.

Shadows are a green screen’s worst enemy. Green spill is the green line around the talent making the final product look like an alien invasion. To achieve flawless lighting, put as much distance as possible between the subject and the screen itself. Something else to remember when shooting with green screen—if you specifically request that your talent wear green, unless it is your visionary dream to have your talent be missing a body part, I suggest investing in a blue screen as well. The blue screen serves the same purpose as the green screen. With that being said, avoid wearing blue against the blue screen.

Although chroma screen is one of the most common cinematic special effects, using this tool to improve your videos, big and small, is entirely possible. Use these simple rules to improve your green screen experience.

Stephen Schweickart is the co-founder of VScreen. For more information on this topic, visit VScreen’s blogsite at http://www.vscreen.com/blog/.

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