Need to change background without greenscreen

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    • #37655

      I need to be able to do something with backgrounds, but I cannot set up a greenscreen to do it.

      The setup:

      Talent is in foreground, outdoor settings. Talent is making video content, but it is not possible to have the best background scenes. I need to be able to change the background without having to use a blue/greenscreen.


      I have some familiarity with masking in Sony Vegas. I do go through a sequence in working with my greenscreen where I make the talent all white and the background all black, etc. I was thinking there might be some way to just extract the talent from the entire video and then place it over a background, or something along those lines.

      Problem is it is just not possible do a best background settings in most cases.

      With all the technology we have nowadays I believe there has to be a way to alter the backgrounds without using a greenscreen.

      I’m not quite sure how to go about it, but I need to figure out some way to just record the talent on the spot. I need to ignore the background and get the video of the subject. Then go into a editing software and take out the background and replace it. The replacement background can be a graphic or other not-so-complex background.

      It would be best if I could use some kind of moving virtual background, but I think i could work with gradient that stayed the same throughout the video presentation.

      Hope I’ve explained this well enough.

      I was doing a video the other day and the background was just not workable with the subject matter of the video. There was all kinds of junk in the background and it was distracting. The talent just was not in best conditions for explaining the subject matter.

      It is possible to get the talent to stand in one place with minimum of movement if necessary. It would be best if course, if the talent could walk in and out of the setting. Regardless, the talent wouldn’t be an action figure.

      I would sure appreciate some suggestions or workaround ideas for this.


    • #166908

      If at all possible, you should try to simulate a greenscreen affect by using a background that may not accomplish, but get very close, to being a solid color. You might be able to simulate this affect by placing the subject in front of a dark, shaded area while having enough light to pour on your subject. You may need to set the camera to a low exposure level. The wall of a building is also another possibility to investigate – you’ll have a harder time using a brick wall.

      If the probability exists, you should definitely take advantage rather than tediously masking every single frame.

    • #166909


      First I have to ask you 2 questions;

      1. Are you a Director or not?

      2. Do you really want to do this kind of work?

      Those questions may seem harsh, but if you can’t properly plan and control your shoots why are you doing this? As a shooter/director your responsibility is to scope out your scenes prior to shooting and make a decision on whether they work for you or not. If they don’t work, don’t shoot them otherwise you’re just wasting time, footage and money. I don’t know how long you have been doing this, but you’ve already developed the terrible habit of ‘trying to fix it in post.’

      So in answer to your initial question, yes there is a way to ‘change the background without using a green/blue screen.’

      1. Make the talent understand that the background is unsuitable for the scene and don’t shoot it. If the ‘talent’ is paying you for this service emphasize that ‘fixing it in post’ is going to increase the amount of your fee for the extra work. If they aren’t paying then tell them you’re not going to kill yourself trying to ‘polish a turd’ instead of doing it properly in the first place.

      2. Position your subject so that you can frame them in camera without the offending ‘scenery’ being visible in the shot.

      3. Use a white sheet behind them as a background and key it out. White sheets are cheap just get a queen-size or larger non-fitted so it will be large enough to be useable.

      4. This is a more expensive option, but if you can’t shake the ‘fix it in post’ bug then get a copy of Adobe After Effects or a similar program capable of doing serious keying and masking.

      So in answer to your overall question, yes you can mask stuff out but to do it properly so that it doesn’t look like crap is to use software capable of doing so. However, the best and cheapest option is to shoot it properly in the first place. Masking footage to ‘fix’ inappropriate backgrounds should be your last choice and not your first. You’re going to spend far more time matching the lighting of your subject to the new background and will suffer through some serious hair-pulling sessions trying to make the subject’s shadows match the new scene, etc., etc., etc. Masking is a valuable tool and every editor should learn how and when to do it. But the best ‘defense’ is to shoot the scene properly.

    • #166910

      I’m not a director, just an amateur with some pretty good equipment.

      Do I want to do this work? LOL

      NO, but I get talked into things sometimes, that require workarounds.

      This particular situation is some gratis videos for non-profit org.

      Greenscreen and white sheet is out, just can’t setup in enough situations to mess with it.

      I can do some lighting tweaks with reflectors and such, but otherwise outdoor natural sunlight is it.

      I just have to compensate for light direction and shadows in videos.

      Basically, I’m looking at making waist up shoot of talent to minimize editing.

      Currently I own the vegas 8 pro, I’m not sure I can get access to After Effects. I have a friend with the full Adobe CS4 package, which might include it.

      I appreciate the responses very much. They are a help.

    • #166911

      if you can get a non moving background you can do a ‘difference matte’ in Premiere Pro. It does work better (I find) with head shots/close ups. Maybe Vegas does the same sort of thing.

    • #166912

      On a clear day, you could choose a camera angle that gets you mostly clear blue sky…

      also if you got a solid color wall, you could try moving the camera as far back as possible, zoom in with telephoto and your talent in shade to get the shallowest depth of feild possible to blur the background, to make masking easier….

    • #166913


      D0n gives some good suggestions and his first one backs up my suggestion #2 about positioning and framing the talent.

      As for whether you’re a director or not, if you making the decision as to where the talent is and where the camera goes and so on, you’re a director. Whether you’re doing it for free or mega-bucks, as an Ammy (amateur) or pro your job is to get the shots you need in as creative a manner as possible without making more work for yourself than necessary in the editing bay.

    • #166914
      AvatarGrinner Hester

      I rotoscope with animated masks in AE when it gets too heavy to do it with animatte in Avid.

      Time consumng but easy enough.

    • #166915

      Here is a reasonable tutorial on Difference Masking in Sony Vegas – Good luck!

    • #166916


      That’s a nice little tut. Typical of VASST.

    • #166917


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