Saturday, June 28, 2008

Virtual Sets

If you have limited space to shoot video then you should consider using Green Screen or blue screen to make virtual places as backgrounds and sets. Green Screen (Chroma Key) is usually attributed to the way the weatherman on TV appears before a weather map. You can do this too. It isn't complicated and can be done with your camera, editor and some green fabric. Light the green background evenly with no shadows and sit or stand in front of it. Light yourself well to and you can pull a good "key" over green screen. Here is a good video from Digital Juice that explains Green Screen and some tips to make it work well.

You can use a green blanket or sheet for a background. And you can get a ton of cool stuff on the web to use as backgrounds. Suppose you want to make a 'News" show. Click here for a cool news theme background and tons of free stuff. You can purchase Virtual Sets here. Or get some free backgrounds here to play with.
Green Screen can a be fun and useful way to appear to be somewhere you either can't afford to go or need to show. Of course you don't have to use "green", you can use blue, black or white too. Just make sure your subject isn't wearing the color of the background, or he/she too will key out. That can make a great effect if you want it though.
You can also use green screen to layer photos on photos or video, picture in picture and overlays. Check out uTube for many ways green screen can be used. However, like any effect it can be overused.
Virtual sets can open up your work space and give your videos the look of having a bigger set to shoot on. One corner or wall in your bedroom can become a whole space ship set, news or variety program set, or beach scene. It's how you use it that counts.
Remember, Green Screen is a tool and your creativity will determine if the trick is believable. Lighting is the key. Good even lighting on the background screen and yourself or whatever object you wish to key will make for a great video. You may want to invest in a lighting kit if your serious. It's well worth the investment and will give you more control over your lights. Check eBay for some good deals. A nice umbrella set will help you cast even light. You can use common work lights and florescent lights too but they can be harder to work with. Work lights tend to give a hard light and can be difficult to get an even flow of light. Some diffusion material will help there.
Plus lights will be hot so be careful. And be aware they use a lot of electricity so don't overload the receptacle in your bedroom or studio. Make sure your shooting area is safe.
You can make your own virtual sets too, just screen capture a scene from a video game or go take a photo of the place you want to be. You can shoot a video of the place too. Just get creative and have some fun with it.
And remember, there is no need to tell people you didn't travel to the great wall of china to get that shot! ;-)

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