Over the holidays while visiting the
out inlaws in northern Atlanta, GA, I had the opportunity to visit with several of my friends. My one friend Ken, recently opened a new business work space where one of the options available is a green screen studio. Since I’ve never recorded with one before, I thought it would be a great opportunity to try my hand at green screen video.
What I found out quickly is that there is an art to doing it, and many skills required to do it properly. First, you have to have a large enough space to shoot in. My office for example would never work to shoot in because it is only 10’x11′. You need a few feet distance between you & the screen. You also need space for the screen to hang flat, and space for the lights & camera. His area is much larger.
Next, you MUST have the right kinds of lights. Ken had 2 softboxes which lit up the subject beautifully. However we didn’t quite have the right lights for the rest. We had two CFL umbrella lights. They did a fair job at lighting the screen but caused a few issues. The first was that they weren’t really bright enough to light up the screen fully. Second, we were then mixing different light colors which can make setting the white balance difficult.
I think that after we spent a while testing, Ken decided he was going to go and purchase either some more soft boxes for the screen or at least just some halogen work lights to light things properly. What I realized after some research is that you need basically two lights on the subject in front of them, two lights on the green screen flooding it with light to remove any shadows. Lastly, there needs to be one light overhead behind the subject for backlighting.
Finally, the camera you use plays a major role in the quality of your green screen video. I tried shooting with my Kodak Playtouch and it looked terrible. Because you don’t have the ability to set white balance, exposure, etc, the person’s skin turned really pale and made them look as though they were a zombie. Also, since the lens doesn’t have the precision focus of a DSLR camera, the edges were very blurry in post edit. When I switched to the DSLR, things got much better.
What kinds of costs do I see needing to be incurred to get a good green screen studio built? Well, let’s break it down:
- Lighting- $600-$1,000
- Screen- $200+
- Large space-?
- Camera- $600-$2,000+
So in closing, unless you have the gear required and are not willing to invest in the right equipment to create your own, you are probably much better off either hiring a professional, using a studio like Business On The Spot, or simply skipping the green screen idea completely.