Green Screen and Composting

After completing the compositing workshop, I feel much more knowledgeable in the area of special effects, editing and even cinematography and set design. The six hour workshop was split into various sections and teams. I learnt how to design and dress a set with green screen so it doesn’t affect other objects in the editing process. We also learnt how much time and effort goes into green screening certain things. For example, we were using green screen for a window and we had to make sure the lighting and camera angles were all exactly the same as they would be in an actual apartment building. This is all extremely relevant in my role as producer as if i was producing a film including green screen and there were delays or issues, i would be aware on how much extra budget/time would be needed to continue shooting.

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On set

To properly shoot and edit a scene involving green screening, one must first take lots of measurements and extra steps to make everything blend together smoothly. As our scene was a window with a green screened ‘outside’ and our camera was moving during the scene, we applied tracking markers to follow the movement. You’ve almost definitely seen tracking markers in any behind the scenes video including green screen. I thought they were just to mark the area of green screen. In some ways this is correct. Tracking markers are used to help the editor during their edit! In new editing softwares, we are able to use the tracking points (which are all in the same colour and shape to help it out) to create an automatic tracker. If we didn’t add the tracking markers, when the camera moved, the footage would’ve become distorted and the plate wouldn’t have moved with it. The four white tracking markers were placed just inside the ‘window’ on the green screen. They were placed here so when we were editing, we were able to crop and adjust the plate quickly and accurately. If we hadn’t put in the tracking markers in that specific position, we would’ve encountered problems with the camera movement and the automatic tracker in the editing program.

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The ‘afternoon’ lighting on the back wall

 

One of the main things to consider while shooting green screen is the lighting setup. Our scene had interior and exterior elements. We got the shots for our plate off the top of the building of SAE with the afternoon sun high. This meant we didn’t have to light or really do much for the plate, this was pretty helpful. However, this meant that we had to be really conscious of where we were putting the lights on set. It’s incredibly obvious when the lights aren’t correct and they are shining in all different directions when there’s one main source (the outside window). This being said, we can’t exactly film with zero lighting. Our gaffers worked to create a lighting state that showed the afternoon sun as if we were in a high rise building. The lighting will also help the editor and their continuity as they place the footage and the plate together. Another thing to consider (that is also simply just common sense) is the colours of the set. I worked with a few other students to dress the set and we had to make sure that we had no green objects/props in the same space the green was. Our set was relatively easy as we only had the one big green rectangle. However if on a bigger set with a bigger green screen someone had been costumed in something green, it would follow with the plate and cause heaps of issues with the editor. This also applies to shiny things! If something has the green reflection on it, it’ll also get the plate put on it.

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Shooting outside

I didn’t know how essential decent lighting and set design were to green screening and i found it extremely interesting to learn about. I found it extremely challenging to understand the reasons behind lots of the technical things at first. Lots of measurements were taken and the set was changed around quite a bit to work this. After it was explained however, I was able to understand that the technical element of the filming process was to help in the edit suite (although this baffled me at the time as well). During the editing process i struggled a bit with why we were doing the specific things we were. However after Cathy and Josh (pro-editor in my opinion) helped me out with the automatic tracking and the placement and adjustment of the planes, i found i felt a lot more comfortable with it. I’ve decided to do a few ‘edits’ (basically just the same edit over and over) on this scene so I can really understand and be capable in my editing abilities. Overall this was an extremely rewarding experience and i’m very grateful that i had the opportunity to participate in the masterclass.

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