Experiments in Chroma Key

I’ve played around with chroma key a few times and the results have been of varying quality. The problem with chroma key as a shiny fetishist is that my clothes are often incredibly shiny, and shiny clothes will reflect the surfaces around them – one of the surfaces being your chroma key background.

My early experiments started when I was in my old unit, however space and particularly height were the issues there. You’ll be surprised how big a green screen you actually need to avoid cropping accidents.

Remember to check your clothes have no green on them. Oops!

As I experimented more and more I found good lighting. Having a firm background in photography helped though as I am au fait with the techniques of lighting a scene.

If I have room this is my go to setup. I’m saving up for more larger video lights but at the moment I use my photography reflectors which suffice, although they’re unwieldy!

I note down the rough positions and angles of the lights, and which one I’m using. I’ve got one Andoer (a rather good light with excellent colour and light temperature rendition) and a couple of the cheaper Ulanzi cold shoe lights. With all three I can set a good scene.

I tend to light the back cloth with pretty much neutral lighting (4400K) as I don’t want to change the colour temperature of it. I also make sure my lights are washing out and neutralising any shadows created by the front lighting, hence me opting to keep the wide wash Andoer on the back cloth.

Once the back cloth is a nice even green colour (I might add the Andoer can add a little colour to the light if you need to enhance the green colour) then it’s time to do the front lighting.

The ring light goes around the lens of the camera. That’s how they work. They’re designed to give a very contourless face.

Finally I add another Ulanzi over to one side, with the aim of not lighting the back cloth at all. This may need a snood or barn doors over to direct the light away from the camera as lights oblique to the camera can cause in-lens reflections.

Once it’s all set I do a sample capture and then check it back on KineMaster (my chosen editing platform) by choosing chroma key and then putting the keyed image over a contrasting background to check for light leaks.

Once happy I’ll go with the full takes and then it’s the editing stage!

It’s important to remember that when you are green screen capturing in a small space you mustn’t let any part of your body fall outside the green screen or the camera, especially if like me you’re capturing vertical to superimpose on a landscape video.

This is what a one shot green screen looks like before I do any editing at all (sorry this is subscribers only).

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Once edited, I render two versions – one for YouTube in 480p and then one for my blog in 1080p or higher. Gotta reward my loyal followers!

Published by Kris

Bassist. Cat servant. Everything is better shiny.

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