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Do It Yourself Filmmaking: DI WHY January 15, 2012

Posted by regan222 in Educational Ranting, Film and Television, Movie Madness.
Tags: , ,

Tonight Anita and I worked on another scene from the short film we are producing.  We filmed the scene in the movie where Anita is driving to work and she gets a call from a co-worker telling her that the boss wants to see her as soon as she gets in.  As the film is entitled The Power of Negative Thinking,  you can imagine her reaction.

As it is very dangerous, as well as illegal in some areas to film, talk on a cell phone, and drive at the same time, we decided to do the entire scene sitting in our driveway and then add the views through the windows by using a green screen (just like they do on the evening weather).  In filming this scene tonight I have learned some things that I would like to share, technique wise, for anyone else who wants to try their hand at green screen replacement.

First and foremost, the most important part of filming is lighting.  The key (ha ha get it…”key”.  If you don’t get it then you should not be reading this post because you won’t understand the rest of it either.)  Where was I?  Oh yeah, the key to the entire green screen process is to make sure the lighting is right.  You must have your screen far enough behind your actors so that the lighting for the screen and the lighting for the actors is completely independent.  The screen needs to be lit separately so that if you turn the lights off of the actors, the screen will not be affected and like wise, if you turn the lights off the screen, the actors will not even notice.  This is very important as the keying process requires that the screen be one single constant color from top to bottom and side to side.  Wrinkles, shadows, or other artifacts cause weird shadows to appear when you key out the green screen.

The toughest lesson I learned tonight was not to put too much light through the window of the car.  You will blast the face of your actor and fade them out entirely.  Tomorrow when we reshoot that sequence I will put small lights INSIDE the car and not so much huge ones outside shining in.

I suppose the most useful thing I learned tonight is that a two-year old stage manager does not make filming easier.  Bless his heart, he wanted to help so much and it seemed like I had to fuss at him every time one of us turned around.  I will be glad when he can play with grown up toys and can join in on the family projects.

The last and most useful bit of information I picked up tonight involves stretching your screen.  Wrinkles make shadows which are not green and don’t go away like they’re supposed to.  Pull your screen tight and CLIP it in place (clothes pins are not strong enough).

If you follow these techniques and use a simple three-point lighting system, make sure to put enough distance between your screen and your actors, and don’t try to get to carried away with lights, you should have at least as much success as Anita and I had.  If you happen to have a two-year old stage manager then you also might have as much fun doing it as we did.



1. wildstorm - January 16, 2012

He was a good boy and sat quietly on the set in his chair. I’m so proud of him.

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