Choosing the Right Kit for Green Screen (a beginners guide)
This article will give you a beginners view on what would be the right kit to hire for green screen filming for a well planned and executed production.
DSLRs are a very cost effective, easy to use way of getting high quality visuals. Low cost lenses and add-on’s can add a highly professional look to any website video or corporate video production. When shooting green screen, with your DSLR there are some things you have to consider. Firstly, they have a real advantage over older DV tape cameras. DSLRs shoot in high definition and have greater clarity than tapes.Digital SLRs use compressions which have a lower colour sampling compared to higher end Alexas and RED camera’s etc. Of course the higher end cameras will cost you more money and once the video is online the difference in results can be hard to notice. These higher end cameras have a wider colour space so there is more definition between RGB.
Cameras that record in a higher quality colour space will look better than cameras that don't. For example 444 will key better that 422, and 422 colour space will key better than 420. I wouldn't recommend using anything lower than 50Mbps compression and a minimum of a 422 colour space.
To maximise the many uses of a DSLR requires attention. Lighting is key to a getting a good key.
For really professional results you could, if your budget allows, The Sony F800, F55, PMW 300 are great but interchanging lenses from your DSLR can be tricky. For an great all rounder (usability, functionality and commonality use a Canon C-300 in the range)
See our review of the Canon C300 here:
If you are using a higher end camera as above you can then run your video output straight into recorder like the Atomos recorder range. A good way is to record in an AppleProRes 422 HQ format. Cameras that record a better quality colour space provide better editing material than cameras that don't. Using the colour space 444 enables you to key out the green more easily and better than a recording at a 422 colour space, than a 420 and so on.
Using anything lower than 50MBps compression/422 colour space will increase your risk for shots that could cause extra time in the edit suite, so think about your budget carefully
DSLRs record direct to their SD cards at 420 colour space. This is very workable but will require you to consider where you spend your budget – kit on the day versus time in post. As a general rule, the better you can shoot in camera, the better material you have to work with.
To get the best results follow these simple tips. Shoot with a low ISO and make sure lighting is brighter. Soft box lights and Kinos are great and can be moved in closer without causing too much heat, but you'd need more of them. Throw a lot of light onto the Green Cyc so that its bright enough to shoot at ISO 100, with an f-stop around 5.6 and finally a shutter speed from 1/60 and 1/125. Now to lighting your subject. Try and match the light intensity, quality and type.
See my article on 3 Point Lighting here:
One thing to consider is the spill of Green. Green reflections on skin tone can wash out a subject’s tone and can even cause headaches in the editing process green spill can get everywhere and especially in shadows highlights, like a green aura or glow. A nightmare for keying programmes.
See our article for Lighting a Green Screen here:
For good green screen space, you need some space, ideally enough to have the actor 3 to 7 feet from the green screen and you need some more width for the lighting. When it comes to the green cyc bigger is better for more depth, distance from subject to walls and some breathing space if there are wild arm movements etc. Height is often overlooked too. You may want a more imposing character looming over you. A small change in a low angle shot can instantly make the subjects head pop over the green cyc at the rear so plan your shots carefully.
Written by Sam Parkinson - Studio Manager