We work with all types of production companies, individuals and agencies and we always offer the same type of advice. It is surprising how often film productions can get out of kilter if you haven’t planned properly or prepared your cast and crew for shooting on greenscreen.
We’ve compiled the following checklist based on supporting other film crews and their clients as well as working directly with clients ourselves.
The following tips are a checklist to make sure you, and your potentially inexperienced clients, are on the same page. Especially if you are on a tight deadline. Ideally the client will have a very very good idea of how the finished project will look. Even if they cant visualise it on the green screen at the time they will be aware of the process you, as film-makers need to go through. Take your time and this will give you and you new best clients a good start for the shoot day.
Be clear with clients their deadlines for all material. This will include scripts, directions to presenter and any physical movements, props – e.g., mobile phone, clipboard, services, messages. Delay in these items can all have an impact when shooting on Green Screen and could affect the editing time needed.
Your target BEFORE filming should be to have a storyboards signed off by the customer signed off. The clearer these are the easier the visuals can be signed off. The more realistic the images then the more influenced the client will be.
Backgrounds and Branding and Colours
Be clear on backgrounds before you book a Green Screen Studio Space or hire the whole Green Screen Production Package. For example, your subject could be positioned by a window in the background you choose. The lighting would be affected by this. Try to include the background image to the cameraman for reference so he can place lighting accordingly. Both the production team and the clients should be clear on the background footage, image or matte colour. This is essential as picking clothing, make up, lighting style,lighting positions and anything else can really affect the overall look. Imagine an exterior shot with a sunset scene for example. Low lighting, warm colours are a must. Clothing and art direction and everything else would have to follow suit.
Storyboards, Shot lists and Scheduling
This storyboard lets everyone from cameraman to actor to lighting technician know what is going on. Having a detailed storyboard is crucial. From here a detailed breakdown and shot list can be incorporated into the day schedule. You don’t always have to shoot everything chronologically. Moving artists position can cause havoc with continuity.
Technical aspects to consider in creative choices
Try and avoid camera moments if possible. These will require much more planning and subsequently editing. Try to not shoot full body shots too as these require more lighting set ups and more light mating it harder to seperate the subject from the background. For full body shots a matte background is really only the possible option unless you want to spend more time and money on 3D backgrounds which must be provided prior to filming
Mid shots and anything above the knees are great and will allow you to manipulate any stock background image.
Production crew check-list:
- Camerawork – Think about angles and perspectives when implementing a background ensure the perspective changes to match angle changes. Check the camera’s focal length too. Close-up shots should be out of focus as opposed to the wide shot and the angle of the background 100% matches the change.
- Cyc lighting – You must incorporate the lighting to match the background. If the light spills off to one side make sure you place an alternative light on your subject appropriately. The background image will also determine the placing of all lighting set ups. Think of shadows and light sources. Where would the main light source be coming from in the background image. Match accordingly.
- Editing – Try and have the editor on site. Although not essential they can sign off their own understanding and happiness and there edit will be a lot more in line with your thinking. They can also advise on lighting and camera movements too. It may save him, and your budget, lots of extra headaches.
Written by Sam Parkinson – Studio Manager