Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Using a fabric backdrop, part of Green Screen Techniques for Video and Photography.
Rich Harrington: One of the most standard type of backdrops used is simply fabric, and people get really hung up. There are people who swear by specialty fabrics or it has to be a particular brand. There are so many options out there when it comes to just choosing a background. Abba Shapiro: Now, you don't want to just buy like a tarp, but there are a lot of options out there to get a Chroma key green background. So, they are pretty reasonably priced, and because they are fabric, they are pretty easy to travel with and store. Rich: Yeah, this particular one we have here has a bit of a foam texture to it.
The nice thing is, is because it's got a little weight to the fabric, it's not going to show wrinkles as much. One of the big things you want to avoid are things like muslin or normal cotton cloth which really has wrinkles. Wrinkles are very problematic when you go to key something, because you want it as even as possible. So putting this green screen together is pretty simple. What's going to happen is is we just pop up the bar. In this case we're using a typical fabric bar that we would use to hang a backdrop. It's a lot like a shower rod except at the end are two pieces that make it easy to attach to lighting stands.
So in this case, we're going to go ahead and use some C-stands instead of lighting stands and Abba, why would we do that? Abba: Well, a C-stand is a lot stronger than a simple light stand, and you can easily hang a crossbar. So it can hold a lot more weight, you don't have to worry about it collapsing on itself. Rich: Yeah, you definitely want safety first on set. So, we're using those C-stands, and you'll see here, we're raising up the bar, working to keep it even, so make sure there's good communication between you and an assistant. This is not the sort of thing you could do on your own. It takes two people to raise this type of backdrop, so make sure you have an assistant or another production person with you on set.
Worse case scenario, recruit your talent, but you want to keep it pretty safe. Additionally, we're also going to drop sandbags on the bottom of those C-stands, because the last thing you want is to hurt the people that you're working with. You don't want this backdrop to come tumbling forward in the middle of a shoot and land on folks, because it's not the fabric that's going to hurt them, but the giant metal stands or crossbeams could definitely hurt. You don't want to knock over any lights, cause any fires, or just have general mayhem on your set. Once we've got that raised, we'll go ahead and actually clamp it off and then use a couple of more sandbags at the base, so it further sort of pulls it out and remove any wrinkles.
So a lot of folks like to get on the set early and put the green screen up first, Abba, why is that? Abba: Well, it's one of the bigger things that you're going to be working with. Once you have your lights set up, and if you have your camera set up, and then you have this big cloth and the C-stands to work with, you're more likely to knock something over, and since this is the biggest bulkiest object that you're working with, I like to hang this first and then stretch it out so it's nice and smooth, and then I can start moving my lights and sometimes it's even on top of the green screen and set up my camera. Rich: The real advantage there too is that by setting it up early, you can let some of the wrinkles fall out, and you know what you're actually putting those lights up for.
So, now that you've got the hang of this, it's really a matter of balance. If you want the most flexibility with a very large backdrop, using fabric is going to give you good options. However, you might be in a situation where you don't have the manpower to go ahead and put that in place or the space. In that case, we can go ahead and take a look at other more portable options to get the job done.
This course was created and produced by Rich Harrington. lynda.com is honored to host this content in our library.
- Why use green screen?
- Using a fabric, Flexfill, or Reflecmedia backdrop
- Lighting the green screen
- Establishing a relationship with the subject
- Shooting handheld
- Shooting with a DSLR
- Using a sync sound workflow
- Processing raw footage
- Creating transparency in Photoshop
- Removing the background
- Adjusting background focus
- Keying in Premiere Pro or After Effects
- Animating the camera