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Best camcorder settings for green screen work?

rocketman's picture
Last seen: 9 years 5 months ago
Joined: 02/24/2005 - 9:31pm
I'm using a Sony DCR-TRV39 mini DV camcorder with one 1/4" CCD. What are the best settings to use for green screen shots?

I've switched to manual focus which, I understand, is preferable to auto focus.

I've also set manual exposure instead of auto.

There are three menu options for white balance:

Outdoor- N/A
Indoor- For brightly lit places
Hold- For recording a single-colored subject or background

Not really sure if Indoor of Hold would be the best for green screen work.

Any suggestions are much appreciated.

Thanks,

Gary

compusolver's picture
Last seen: 9 years 7 months ago
Joined: 12/16/2004 - 8:16am
You don't want to set exposure or white balance on your green screen. Choose indoor (assuming that's where you're filming).

Other than that, more important than camera settings is lighting. You've got to light the screen evenly, and well, yet not so much that light spills onto your subject. Flourescents are easiest to work with. Keep subject at least eight feet from the green screen if possible and use backlight.

After lighting, your background is the most important consideration. Plain, light colored backgrounds can give problems with dark hair, etc.

Depending on your chroma software, you may find blacks somewhat difficult with green screens and greys give trouble with blue. At least that's what I found using Pinnacle and Vegas. Ultra and Premiere Pro handled chromas a bit better.

Get lots of practice before using chroma in a paid production.

rocketman's picture
Last seen: 9 years 5 months ago
Joined: 02/24/2005 - 9:31pm
Thanks a million for all the helpful info. What's the correct way to set exposure for a shot like this, if not setting to the screen?

compusolver's picture
Last seen: 9 years 7 months ago
Joined: 12/16/2004 - 8:16am
I presume you'll have a "subject" for this shot - that you're not just shooting a chroma screen, right?

If all else fails, expose for your subject.

You know Gary, the great thing about camcorders is we don't have to send the film off to Walmart and wait for the results. If your camera doesn't have an LCD monitor, hook up live to a TV set or something. Then just take a look and make sure your subject is exposed properly and that your screen also has the illumination it needs to look evenly lighted and fairly bright without being overly bright.

When in doubt, shoot several scenes using different techniques. Then when you're editing, make note of what works and what doesn't. You can reuse your tape at least once or twice - so it doesn't cost much to do some extra shooting. It's always best to practice on your own time before you start charging a client.

rocketman's picture
Last seen: 9 years 5 months ago
Joined: 02/24/2005 - 9:31pm
Thanks. Yes, I've got an LCD but prefer to use my TV as a monitor, as you described, instead of squinting at that little 3 1/2" screen on the camcorder.

So, it sounds like I'm basically setting exposure by eye based on lighting requirements for the screen and my subject. Would it make any sense to keep the lighting on the screen and subject lower (so as to reduce spill) then increase exposure to compensate for the lower lighting levels?

Will take your advice and try a variety of shots at different settings to determine best results.

Thanks again for the helpful info,

Gary

compusolver's picture
Last seen: 9 years 7 months ago
Joined: 12/16/2004 - 8:16am
You must be a still photog. Yes, let your monitor be your light meter.

I'd be interested to know what type video you're shooting with the green screen, what editing software you're using, and how things turn out.

If you don't mind, you might even consider putting a small wmv together and post so we can see how things turn out, then post a link to it here.

Good luck.

WalterGraff's picture
Last seen: 9 years 8 months ago
Joined: 11/29/2004 - 7:57am
I have an article on green screen that will help you:

http://www.bluesky-web.com/new-page6.html

DanSelakovich's picture
Last seen: 9 years 2 months ago
Joined: 05/07/2005 - 7:02am
If you are PC based you HAVE to check out a product by Serious Magic:

http://seriousmagic.com/ukoverview.cfm

It is an amazing green screen program that uses vectors, which means a very clean composite. I saw this at NAB, and the green screen had shadows, wrinkles, and the model was a blonde with a fan blowing her hair: in other words the worst conditions possible for a key. It was a thing of beauty. There's a lot more to Ultra than this, so take a look! In fact it is so good, that eventhough I am Mac based, I would buy a cheap PC laptop if I were going to do a lot of green screen work.

Dan
www.DVcameraRigs.com

compusolver's picture
Last seen: 9 years 7 months ago
Joined: 12/16/2004 - 8:16am
I own Serious Magic's Ultra program and I can tell you that it does NOT magically solve the problems we all face with chroma screens like flyaway hair - not unless you're using a betacam, at least.

Though it is a cool program (if expensive), it doesn't seem to do anything that Premiere Pro doesn't do for chromas - just gives larger and more intuitive controls. What it DOES include that is different and cool is the 3D sets. But these too are, in my opinion, overpriced. The best set is #2 but it costs $500 extra - after you've already paid $800 or so for the program and the first set.

I'm hoping to find Master Set #2 on the used market somewhere.

JonathanDecker's picture
Last seen: 9 years 1 month ago
Joined: 06/15/2005 - 7:33pm
This post is a little late now but..
There's this nifty gadget I saw a guy using. It was a screen that was grey (kinda movie-theatre silver) and had paired with it a light ring that mounted around, but out of sight of, the camera lense. The background wasn't even lit and the keying turned out great. I think the hardware must have been expensive based on the care the crew took with it, but I don't know what it was called. Anyone else know?

Brian Alves's picture
Last seen: 8 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 06/13/2005 - 8:14pm
Great green screen tutorial here:

http://www.film-and-video.com/broadcastvideoexamples-greenscreen.html

Brian Alves's picture
Last seen: 8 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 06/13/2005 - 8:14pm

Jonathan Decker Wrote:

This post is a little late now but..
There's this nifty gadget I saw a guy using. It was a screen that was grey (kinda movie-theatre silver) and had paired with it a light ring that mounted around, but out of sight of, the camera lense. The background wasn't even lit and the keying turned out great. I think the hardware must have been expensive based on the care the crew took with it, but I don't know what it was called. Anyone else know?


This is the Chromatte System

guy12221's picture
Last seen: 3 years 4 months ago
Joined: 03/04/2011 - 4:58pm

I have hvx200a what would be the setting for green screen? 720p/30p or 720/60p or 1080i/30p or 1080i/60i?