Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Why use green screen for photography?, part of Green Screen Techniques for Video and Photography.
Abba Shapiro: So Rich, let's talk about why we would want to do Green Screen for Photography. A lot of photographers are used to shooting with black backgrounds and white backgrounds and different paper drops, but green screen gives us something very unique. Rich Harrington: Yeah, I think ultimately, it's all about flexibility and the ability to cut down post-production time. You're right, a lot people are used to using the neutral gray or the dark black backdrops or white and paper ones, and that's what you find in studios. People hear green screen and they think cheesy special effects.
Now, there is a reason why it exists for those cheesy special effects because it's so easy to do. Abba: And I think that's the key is that green is a color that's opposite of skin, and it's very easy to pull a key without a lot of third-party software, without having to do a lot of masking. And so it actually will make things easier in the post-production, and you just do a simple setup in the production as we have in the background here of just the green backdrop. We'll go into that a little bit later. Rich: Yeah, I think the main idea here is that by making some small adjustments into how you shoot, you spend less time in post-production, and a big thing that folks are starting to realize is that for everyday of shooting, there is 2 to 4 days of post-production on a typical shoot.
So, you want to save time where it really matters, and that's on the backend. So, one of those specific workflows is really using this for practical things. We're shooting portraits. So we're doing things, and this just happened the other day. We got my son's grade school pictures and they showed him on eight different backdrops, I had my pick, and I was like, wow, that's kind of good because I don't like that backdrop but I like that one, and it dawned on me that if the photographer had to pre-negotiate with every single parent, which backdrop do you want for your child and oh, okay, let's schedule all of these children on this backdrop and then these children, it would just be a logistics nightmare.
And so, they have this great flexibility, and what it ultimately does is let the photographer sell more pictures when it comes time to portraits, and that's really good for standard portraits. It's also good for sports, right? Abba: Absolutely. Sports is one of the great things to use green screen for, whether you're shooting individual portraits or if you're shooting a team shot. A lot of times, it might not be the season that they're actually playing that sport. For instance, it might be a fall sport but you're shooting their headshots in the summer, you could always get a fall backdrop.
I kind of like the idea that you have, again, the flexibility of putting the players wherever you want. You can put them on the field or you can put them in a specific location. Rich: This also has benefits for those people doing special effects. There is a big industry, parties, events you see at amusement parks of people doing things like magazine covers or dropping people into destinations. This is just one more type for event photographers to have that flexibility. I have seen this at weddings too. It just opens up a whole bunch of things with that flexibility for post.
I think it really stands out, and as people are going to see as we tackle this technique, it's really not that hard. The key here is all about flexibility, the fact that not only can you change the background but I like the fact that you get much greater control over lighting and depth of field. I'll be in a situation where I want to get those lights in really close to my subject for a particular look. But if I were shooting that, it would destroy my backdrop. But since I can shoot them and keep the lights nice and close for an intimate setup, I could just cut those out and then put whatever I need back there.
Abba: I mean you could even make it more realistic. There is a lot of times if you're shooting-- let's go back to the sports analogy--somebody on a field, but you can't light a football field, but you can light a person, and then you can go, and you can get the shot of the football field, and then you can composite them together, and even add a little bit of blur so you've created that depth of field so it looks like they were really out there at the time. Rich: You bring up a good point. Sometimes it's difficult to light those backgrounds but you can go with a slower exposure time. You could shoot that nighttime field with a three-second exposure and get a beautiful exposure with the lights coming in or the background, or shoot for the nighttime skyline.
But doing that and getting the action you need on the portrait, it would never work. So this is all about creating great composite images, and that's going to be something we cover at the back part of this course. You, and I are going to jump into some popular software tools and show people how to both composite images for still and then ultimately video work as well. Abba: Now, one other area that I want to make sure that people understand again, it's all about flexibility and profitability is that you can change backgrounds as things change. In the corporate world a lot of times you might want to get a shot of 20 employees but you can't go to 20 different locations, 20 different offices.
So, what you can do is shoot them in a green screen environment and then go around and shoot different parts of the building, and then you can composite them into a certain location, and if things change if they move buildings or if branding changes, you can very easily swap out the background. Now, I know you've done some of this yourself. Rich: Yeah, future changes are critical and the idea there is that you can continue to get value out of the material you shot and clients will get busy, budgets will get tight, there's been a lot of projects where we've had to do new post-production work for new projects that have come up but not new field production work, and that really stands out.
So that's a lot of the reasons to shoot green screen with photography. In a second, let's take a look at the video angle, and then we'll start to light.
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
Skill Level Appropriate for all
Q: This course was updated on 03/01/2017. What changed?
A: New videos were added that show how to key out green screen video and match color and exposure for video in Final Cut Pro X.