Filmmaking is all about illusions. Making the audience believe that your characters are actually in space, or just tricking them into believing your exterior scenes are shot using only natural light, is just part of film as an art form. However, one of the most explicit ways of cinematic deception is the use of green screens, which are used in everything from backgrounds to special effects. In spite of their popularity, green screen work is one of the easiest things to get wrong in a film production, which is why today we’ll talk about 5 things you should do to get better results.
Insert actors into the scene with camera work
We’ve all seen scenes with poor image compositing at least once, in which the background is obviously fake because of how flat everything seems. One of the ways in which you can avoid that effect is by not filming static shots of your characters when there’s a green screen behind them. The camera movement adds depth to the shot, and if it is done correctly, it can easily pass as a real background.
Light characters to match the scene
Of course, one other thing you must always do when working with fake backgrounds or using green screens for VFX is lighting your characters accordingly. Pay attention to the light sources and color temperatures of your lights in the scene you need to recreate, and illuminate your character as such to avoid any hard contrast that doesn’t match the setup.
Use the light wrap tool on your editing software
If your characters are in motion and properly lit for the scene you’ll be placing them in, then all it rests is just adjusting some subtle, yet significant details. Besides doing the color correction of your character and the scene overall, you can use the light wrap effect in post production to really blend the elements in frame with the surroundings, giving it a more natural and real feel to the shot.
Take advantage of lower apertures
When using lower apertures, you are normally letting more light into the lens, thus not needing to resort to the ISO so much if you are in a controlled environment. This is important because, when you are masking in post and doing all the processes required to create a great green screen effect, you want as little noise as possible in your image and you want your character’s silhouette to be as clear as it can be.
Increase the shutter speed to decrease motion blur
One of the trickiest things to achieve when using a green screen is getting a clear cutout of your elements when they are in motion. If your character is swinging his arms or brandishing a weapon, for instance, chances are that the movement of these elements turns out blurry. Shooting your scene at a higher shutter speed will capture all of your movement fluidly, leaving you with a much more defined silhouette to work with. In post, you can then work around the shutter speed effect to add motion blur back again to create a more realistic look and feel.