Green With Envy

A Personal Review of The Green Screen Practical Evening.
Mike’s in the Spotlight Again.

When it was suggested that another session with the club’s green screen was due Chris quickly volunteered to organize the requisite practical evening. Never one to shy away from a challenge he decided to put on a demonstration of the use of green screen AND show how to use the effect in an editing programme. But that’s not all! The ever ambitious Chris wanted to project the demonstration on our screen in real time AND use an editing programme that was unfamiliar to him. PHEW! Was he mad or what? This promised to be quite a night!

Many Hands make Light Work

Practical evenings at the club are always popular and Tuesday 30th August was no exception. Our little hall was soon heaving with OVFMers eager to look, learn, share and experience as chairs and tables were put out, refreshments prepared and all the behind the scenes work of club night was done.

 

Moral Support doesn't Count

Chris arrived with mountains of gear and with the help of Pete, Bob, John, Sam and others set up the four lights (important so that the background and subject are both properly lit), the green cloth back drop, the camera, the projector, the PA system and the laptop…GULP! All this was achieved surprisingly quickly, very efficiently and with commendably little swearing

 Once the hardware was up and running the challenge of putting on an entertaining and informative green screen demonstration in the space of just two hours was on. Would the evening be a success and make Chris a hero? Or would it crash and burn and demote Chris to zero status? Only time would tell.

Hands up if You're Happy

 The evening got off to a great start with a fascinating compilation of video clips showing how green screen is used in television in some very unexpected situations. The compilation brought to mind the fabulous visit we’d had from Andrew Bishop of Darkside Animation back in March. If you were fortunate enough to have attended Andrew Bishop’s night you wont have forgotten the passion and craft he and his team bring to film and television as they use the latest computer software to create special effects that are breath taking in their complexity. The Darkside Animation team worked on the recent BBC Sci-Fi drama Outcasts and it was amazing to see how locations could be replicated in the studio using sophisiticated green screen techniques. Naturally after such inspiration many of us were fired up at the thought of all the possibilities at our own fingertips.

Bonnie and Clyde upto their Old Tricks

I want you, you and you in my team

With the intro over it was time for the practical part of the demo to begin. Chris called for his first victim, I mean volunteer! With Jane on camera Mike stepped up to be shot against the green screen and although painfully shy he did manage to put on a performance for us worthy of the West End stage while lighting and exposure were adjusted for optimum effect.

Go On do something Funny

Chris expained the principles and fielded questions while victim number two Sam donned Jane’s purpose made green suit. Looking very much like a charcter from The Incredibles and acting the part too Sam made a perfect subject for stage two of the filming. Working like a real double act Mike and Sam improvised some very amusing scenes. All this was projected and recorded ready for stage three of the demonstration.

The Green Streak Glides to the front

 While the rest of us partook of Peggy and Jo’s teas, coffees and biscuits Chris and his tech team of Mike, David and Bob worked on the editing. It’s no mean feat to capture, edit and apply effects in limited time and on unfamiliar software but as Chris always says ‘He who dares wins!’. Pinnacle was chosen as the video editing software de jour because it’s relatively inexpensive, already has a number of followers amongst the ranks of OVFMers (see their user group elsewhere on this site) and is capable of working with green screen effects. Other software is available and the principles are the same whether you work on an £80 programme or £800 one. Of course the end results may differ though.

 After the break Chris was able to show us the fruits of their labour, but not before we watched a couple of hilarious films by Jim, Jane and Barbara, the contingent from the sticks. We cheered, we clapped, we laughed….and we gasped as we watched not just Jane in her green suit but Jim as well as he cavorted with abandon in his figure hugging costume. It’s an image seared onto my memory but I’m hopeful counselling will help! Jim and Jane you are great sports.

It's a bit parky in here

 The evening ended with Sam frolicking amongst the baa lambs and Mike being thrown on the mercy of the audience all thanks to the magic of green screen, Pinnacle and little bit of expertise. Naturally with so much going on there was bound to be the odd hiccup in the evening but several of the most attentive club members were quick to call out advice, offer suggestions and generally do their utmost to help. In response to these unsolicited but really useful contributions I’m sure I heard Chris mumble several words of thanks…at least I think it was thanks!

Surely There's a law against This!

So after two eventful hours what did I learn? That getting the lighting right is vital, green screen can be a lot of fun, what some club members get upto in their spare time, and that ‘tolerance’ is an adjustment tool in Pinnacle as well as the ability to rise above trial and tribulation. Chris your fortitude was an example to us all, well done for producing a great evening!

Chris Goes back to Basics

 So Hero or Zero? Well Chris will always be MY hero! But what’s your verdict?

Bob Gives his Opinion

 

Here Comes The Science

Why green screen? Basically green screen is a method of filming and isolating your subject from the background so that a substitute background can be added. Most video editing software allow the layering of film and the facility to select a particular colour in your clip and make it transparent (sometimes called chroma key). By using this facility in conjunction with a clip shot against a green screen background it is possible to put your subject anywhere from the moon to the bottom of the sea… just as long as you have the necessary replacement footage!

Mike and Friends against the green screen

But why ‘green’ you ask? Well a colour is needed that is as different from skin tone as possible while being suitable for the colour sensitivity of the camera. Video cameras are particularly sensitive to green while the film used in movie cameras is more sensitive to blue.

Away goes the green screen

I’ve posted a few Photoshopped images to show the principle of green screen. Using Photoshop on a still image is easier than applying an effect to a video clip but even so the exercise keenly highlighted the difficulties with green screen. Colour spill from the back drop and show through of the back drop in areas of hair etc both cause problems, as does the colour variation across the back drop as a result of uneven lighting. If you attempt green screen give yourself the best chance of success with plenty of time to set up and perhaps try some dry runs first too. Why not join the club members who’ve already used green screen in their films with great success. Good luck!

Amongst the baa lambs

 

16 comments on “Green With Envy”

  1. Chris Coulson

    This is an outstanding article, and not just because you’re more or less gentle with me! 🙂 Thanks very much Simon for a fantastic writeup of the evening!

    • Simon Earwicker

      Ta Chris. I really enjoy the fact that OVFM meetings are a great place to learn techniques and pick up inspiration as well as being a forum for the sharing and discussion of the wide range of films made by the club members.

  2. Brenda

    What a brilliant article Simon.
    Are you sure that you are not a newspaper reporter?
    Well done Chris for a very inforative evening.
    Brenda

    • Simon Earwicker

      Hi Brenda. With a bit of luck there’ll now be a flurry of green screen related film entrants in the Top Ten and Annual Competition, wouldn’t that be fun!

  3. Lee Relph

    I’m “green with envy” since your articles get better responses than mine do… 🙁

    Anyway, great work and thanks for the contribution to the site! 🙂

    • Simon Earwicker

      Cheers Lee. Any fool can be a weekend sailor but it takes real skill and dedication to captain the OVFM website supertanker safely across the choppy waters of the internet ocean.

  4. Annabelle Lancaster

    With all these great pictures popping up on the ‘front page’ of the website it makes me wonder if we need the Gallery as well???

    • Simon Earwicker

      Hi Annabelle. Interesting comment. I certainly think it’s better to be using photos to illustrate and punctuate articles appearing in the main body of the website than it is to bury them in the gallery.

        • Simon Earwicker

          Yes…but! In the gallery the photos are divorced from their context so they lack meaning.

  5. Mike Shaw

    Brilliant article Simon – and of course, brilliant snaps (sorry! I really did mean photographs!) to go with it. Witty captions too – much better than the conventional ‘describe what you see’ stuff. Well done. Photo-journalism at its best.

    • Simon Earwicker

      Mike! The man himself, the Star, the Numero Uno! I owe it all to you, without your smiling visage my snaps would be but shadows of themselves! Thanks.

  6. jane oliver

    Hi Simon, Another great article. Your pictures and words are a practicle illustration to anyone who wants to dip their little green toes or nose in the water! Beware, something green is lurking out there!

    • Simon Earwicker

      Jane no matter what THEY say (we all know who they are!) GREEN is the colour and football is decidely NOT the game:)
      Let us all embrace the green within, or without or whatever!

  7. ann perrin

    Wish I had been there. got my green screen, fixing my lights so glad for the resume with super article. Ann Perrin…on sea

    • Simon Earwicker

      Hi Ann delighted that you’re flying the green flag down there on the Sunny South Coast. If you want any help I’m sure there’s a dozen or so OVFMers who’d just jump at the chance to have fish’n’chips on the prom, I mean to assist you in any relevant video matters!

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