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Compositing tutorial- blue + green screen basics-techniques

Posted: Wed, 10th Dec 2008, 2:04am

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DVStudio

Force: 4983 | Joined: 22nd Nov 2007 | Posts: 1845

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Green screening tutorial
Hey guys. I have been working on this tutorial for a while now. I am finished with it now. Basically, what it is, is a basic introduction to green and blue screen compositing in Composite Lab Pro. I know that most of you here may already know how to do this, but I wanted to put it here for new comers and even old users who may need a little refresher! I hope the tutorial is useful and that everyone may learn something! smile
Basics:
Green screening is used in many modern films and can be used to produce a variety of different compositing effects as well as other effects. Basically, what green screening, or blue screening for that matter, is a green or blue back drop with a/an actor(s) in front of it. The green (or blue) can be keyed out and replaced with a digital background. The concept is quite simple but the actual effect can take a while to master, which hopefully this tutorial will help with.
Side Note: It may seem dumb to mention this, but just to be safe: Be sure no actors are wearing blue on a blue screen or green on a green screen . It would be disastrous to have an entire day of filming go to waste due to a silly mistake like this!
The rest of this tutorial will assume that you have a basic understanding of the concept and the program(s) that you will be using. I can help you with more specifics by email if necessary: (dvstudiosrox@comcast.net)
Okay. Now that you have that little bit down, lets get started!
What you’ll need:
-a moderately sized green or blue screen cloth (available here: http://tubetape.com/ and at most fabric shops) When you are buying one, be sure to get one that will hold up and can be washed easily especially if you plan to use it outside. Also, get a bright solid colored one, or it will not work.
-Compositing software- there are a TON of different ones available, but the ones that I prefer to use (and what this tutorial covers are FXhome CompositeLab Pro and Adobe Premiere Elements.
Premiere is good for low-budgets and is powerful as an NLE, but you should really invest in Clab if you have not already as it is much more capable for compositing and grading, but it is not an NLE. Premiere has 2 settings for blue screen key and green screen key. These settings are good if and only if you have spent a lot of money on lighting and have a perfect green screen set up. This is very difficult and is rarely done by small budget film makers, which chances are, you may be. Premiere also has a chroma key setting which is much better to work with.
Example:

-Video camera (obviously)- you don’t need the best one on the market (although it might help) but a moderately priced one with decent quality should be fine. Don’t go too cheap as you will regret it later. HD cameras are becoming mainstream so it my be good to spend a little extra and pick up one of these from your bestbuy or other electronics store.
-Lights! This is the most important part of the set. Poor lighting will make for a terrible effect and the more evenly lit you can get it, the better. The best lights are the halogen work lights, but watch out because they get VERY HOT! Also, with any lights you use, watch out for actor’s safety as well as hot spots and washed out places on the green screen. Fluorescent lights work well too, but can sometimes cause weird colored lighting and they flicker when first turned on. Be sure to let them run for a few minutes before running the camera! (They also hum so watch out if you are actually using audio shot in the green screen studio)
Getting Started:
1.The first step is obviously to prepare your set. Here is a sample of a common set layout (yes it is a stupid picture, but don’t worry, the rest are serious ):

2.Set the lights up. This part can be very complicated and takes a while to get just right. Be sure to test it out before you have everyone there for a shoot and then run into problems with lights. Here is a sample of a lighting set up:

The main thing to take notice of is how you should have 2 lights to illuminate the back drop (green screen) and one for the actor/actress. This will make sure the light is spread equally and that it does not make hot spots on the back drop. You also do not want shadows cast on the green screen as this can cause complications as it darkens parts of the screen. The light that shines onto the actor is to ensure he/she is not washed out by the bright lights in the back. You can also diffuse the lights by using reflectors or black garbage bags (don’t put anything too close to lights!) to make it less harsh.
3.Now place your actor (s) as to not cast shadows on the backdrop and to be in the position that is best for your shot.
4.Now is the fun part! Filming it! When you are filming, be careful not to zoom in or out with the camera (unless you are good enough to handle this) as it causes whatever your background is to morph and it doesn’t zoom in on its own, but rather resizes and looks bad.
Post (editing)
Depending on who you are, this can be a fun stage, an interesting one, or a boring one. For me it is very interesting as things can change very fast and you may even think as you are editing, “Ahh, I don’t like that scene” and then go back and revise the script and add new things that you had never thought of before. The most important thing (and sometimes the hardest) is to take your time and make it the best it can be. It is not uncommon to take many days or weeks to edit a scene, especially with effects and large amounts of compositing.
1.Once your camera footage is on your computer, go ahead and fire up your compositing program.
2.Insert your video into the timeline (it varies by program how to do this and what it looks like) In Composite Lab: go to file- new project- select movie and choose your video
This is what it should look like:

3.Now add your chroma key effect. To do this (again in CLab) select your media clip in the timeline:

And now click the key option

4.This will pop up on the right side of your screen, select chroma key

5.Using the eye dropper tool, select your background color and adjust the settings to make the blue or green background color disappear

6.Now open your background image by clicking the yellow folder and browsing for your media

7.Now drag the image into the timeline and adjust any settings


8.If you are happy with the work, save it as a project and click Render on the top task bar. Choose the place you want to save the file. Enjoy!

Hopefully you are successful with your footage and if not, just keep practicing! Nothing is perfect the first time, no matter how good you are!

Here are some other general tips that may be helpful on a shoot:

-Make sure you have plenty of food and water. People tend to get cranky and can disrupt a film shooting very easily. A hungry crew is an unproductive crew.

-Also, be sure to keep an eye on the weather for that day. Try not to shoot on a 110 degree day or a 30 degree one. Also, you obviously don't want to be rained out and too much wind can be bad.

-Be sure to always have chargers and extra batteries so the filming goes smoothly. I like to have several copies of the script on hand and a laptop with wifi just in case. Be sure to have enough mini dv tapes or dvds as this can be a HUGE pain.

-Be sure to get enough footage and always make sure you get exactly what you want or else it can be very hard to match lighting conditions and camera positions if you aren't filming in a studio.

-Make it fun for the actors so they don’t just want to go play X-box. Show them that they are part of the final film and make them feel proud and they will work better.

-Have some extra cash on hand just in case you need to run and grab something you forgot about! ?

The most important thing is to have a good time. I hope the tutorial helps out and I will post more when I have a chance!

I hope the tutorial was helpful and that you got a lot out of it. I will continue to update the tutorial and add new things to it when I have more time. I worked very hard on this and hope that someone can find it useful, whether you knew these things already or not. Thank you! smile
DV Studio

Last edited Wed, 31st Dec 2008, 3:18pm; edited 1 times in total.

Posted: Wed, 10th Dec 2008, 4:00am

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TubeTape

Force: 9542 | Joined: 24th May 2007 | Posts: 169

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Nice job! Very helpful and informative.
Posted: Wed, 10th Dec 2008, 9:30am

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badmonk

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awesome!!!
thanks for taking the time and effort to do this!! looks great! smile
Posted: Wed, 10th Dec 2008, 10:52am

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DVStudio

Force: 4983 | Joined: 22nd Nov 2007 | Posts: 1845

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Thank. Glad you guys liked it. biggrin

Check out this CLAB green screen perfecting tutorial too: http://fxhome.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=39988

Last edited Fri, 28th Aug 2009, 12:11pm; edited 2 times in total.

Posted: Wed, 29th Apr 2009, 4:17pm

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Amentahj

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it was really helpful
Posted: Sun, 16th Aug 2009, 12:00am

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JackMan INC

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I did it all. Every step. But when you say 'add your background image to the timeline' well nothing happens. It just blocks out the original image (the one I filmed in from of the green screen)

then you say 'adjust settings' huh? Adjust WHAT on the image?
How can I make this work???

I AM SO FRUSTRATED WITH this SOFTWARE.
Posted: Sun, 16th Aug 2009, 12:52am

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Arktic

Force: 9977 | Joined: 10th Nov 2003 | Posts: 2785

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JackMan INC wrote:

I did it all. Every step. But when you say 'add your background image to the timeline' well nothing happens. It just blocks out the original image
Are you sure that you're placing the new background image BELOW the greenscreen footage on the timeline?

JackMan INC wrote:

then you say 'adjust settings' huh? Adjust WHAT on the image?
How can I make this work???
Have you read the manual on the settings, and followed the video tutorials? If not, try both of these before getting too frustrated!

Hope this helps smile

Cheers,
Arktic.
Posted: Sun, 16th Aug 2009, 5:21pm

Post 8 of 8

DVStudio

Force: 4983 | Joined: 22nd Nov 2007 | Posts: 1845

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JackMan INC wrote:


then you say 'adjust settings' huh? Adjust WHAT on the image?
How can I make this work???
Uhhh, any settings that you wanted to adjust. For example: grading the image, positioning, brightness, contrast, etc.


JackMan INC wrote:

I AM SO FRUSTRATED WITH this SOFTWARE.
Give it time. The Composite Lab and all the FXHome programs really are great. You just have to have patience. You need to do ypour best to learn, prcatice, and practice some more. You weon't get it the first time. Anyone who is really serious about movie making and visual effects may spend hours on compositing one scene and getting it as perfect as possible. There is no click for greenscreen and then excport button. There are a lot of manual controls and different ways to adjusct your key and composite, and I think that is the beauty of this software. It isn't expensive, but has the power of a very costly program. Once you get past the learning curve, you'll probably find that you love the software.

Please check out this tutorial I made on compositing. I think it is a much mpore specific tutorial and that the results are fantastic if done right.