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Green Screen your Puppet Videos

Give Us Some Background
 

I highly suggest that if you are looking at being professional that you need to brand yourself and the best way to do this in 2019 is with video. My recommendation is to create a vlog or performance channel on youtube or facebook.

 

With this, to get a more professional look, don’t just shoot performances, use green screen to create professional studio style backgrounds.

 

WHAT’S GREEN SCREEN?
 

For those who honestly have no clue, green screen is a visual effects technique where two images or video streams are layered together by overlapping and, through a process called chroma keying, a specific color on the lop layer is removed to allow the bottom layer to show..

Green screen basically lets you drop in whatever background images you want behind the foreground image. It’s used in film,t.v. and even stage performance such as puppetry.

After the initial footage is shot, it is the job of the compositor or whoever is editing the film to:

  1. To place the new background into the shot.

  2. The chroma key singles out the selected colour (The most common colors are bright green and robin egg blue) and digitally removes it by replacing that color with a transparent.

  3. When used with 3D techniques found in programs like photoshop, Blender, etc., this process can add any new element (smoke, fire, rain, etc.) to complex shots.

So Why Green?
 

This is a common question and technically, you can adjust any color to be your chroma key color, but a vibrant, almost neon green is the standard choice because it’s distinct and generally makes everything else stand out from the background, so if you have long flowing fur, it’s less likely to give a halo effect.

 

But green doesn’t work for everything. Poor Kermit , to film him on a green screen would make him disappear, so, in this case, you would opt for the blue screen. Just make sure that there are no similar colors in the foreground that matches (or comes close) to the colors you are keying out.

 

The key rule is no matching colors!

 

SET UP Obviously, you need a program that will allow you to chroma key, my go to is Adobe After Effects, but with some research you can find something that works for you.

 

So here are some Dos and Do Nots.

 

No green or reflective surfaces.

 

Avoid green as if it is the worst color in the world, any shade remotely close to the green that you are keying out. This goes for the subject being recorded s well as anything that will be in the foreground.

 

Reflective materials are also a major thing to stay away from. Shiny, reflective objects such as glass, jewelry, props, etc. will undoubtedly pick up the color of your screen thus causing the reflection to also be rendered as a transparent. I have actually seen a few occasions where a puppet’s eyes can be too glossy, so be aware of all the surfaces going into the foreground shot.

 

Allow for depth.

 

It’s generally referred to as spill over. You want there to be an adequate distance between the actor/object/puppet being filmed and the green screen. Too little distance and the shadows cast n the screen will register as a different color and not get keyed out. Too far and ambient lighting might create a halo around the subject..

 

Adequate distance between the camera and the subject is also a must. Always give yourself enough distance that you can do masking if needed and allow for the lux level of the camera to focus on the subject and not the background.

 

Use “coved” screens when possible.

 

Basically what this means is that you don’t want any sharp edges when video taping full shots. Drape your screen so that it doesn’t create any sharp corners. The reason for this is to insure that the shadows from the corner transition doesn’t create enough contrast that it changes the tone of the green in one area.

 

Soft and even lighting.

 

Light the green screen as evenly as possible in order to give an even texture, color and gradient from one side to the other. The more even the lighting, the better and easier it’ll be to key out thee color evenly without a lot of playing with controls.

 

Keep the screen itself as clean and smooth as possible as you can to maintain a consistent colour range. If the screen is fabric, make sure there aren’t any wrinkles. If you painted it, make sure to keep a small can of the same color available for touch ups, because it will get scratched and scuffed over time.

 

Light separately.

 

The background should be lit separately from the subject to avoid the subject casting odd shadows and weird gradients on the background surface.  Also, if the subject is solely picking up light from the background light, the subject will inevitably pick up the color as the hue bouncing off the subject will reflect and cause problems when you are trying to remove the background.

 

The more space you have between the foreground subject and the background will insure that the two lighting zones will blend and not counteract each other.

 

Keep the camera still.

 

Have the camera on a tripod when possible. A static position will insure that you properly blend the two subjects. Just as suspension of disbelief can be lost when flipping the lid or stargazing with your puppet, the same thing can happen if your foreground subject moves unnaturally with the background.

 

When it comes to zooming in, don’t. Always record a wide shot and adjust in your editing software. Trying to adjust with the camera can cause some strange looking effects.

 

Use Chroma Key software that works for you.

 

As I said earlier, my go to program of choice is adobe after effects, but do your own research and consider software based on your budget and your needs. Your options for Chroma Key software will essentially depend on you.

 

Yes there are free shots out there, but they are really basic, so to get a professional edit, you will want to make an investment. Adobe CC suite is now set up to basically rent month to month. It’s amazing, user friendly, countless tutorials, forums and free help all over the internet for every program in the suite. Also, pretty much all adobe products are designed to interact with each other seamlessly, so anything you do in After Effects can be pulled directly into Premiere and vice versa.

 

Thats It...well sorta
 

As far as green screen basics, that’s pretty much all you need to know to get started. I know, if you haven’t done it before, it will seem daunting and somewhat complicated at first, but if you follow these tips and start off with a decent program, you will be able to do some great shots in no time at all. Now, instead of doing mediocre shots where you have to build sets, you can create some amazing backgrounds in photoshop, etc and add a whole new dimension to your promo videos and performances..

 

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