Greenscreen shooting and FCP, quick and easy?

Posted by nicknasty 
Greenscreen shooting and FCP, quick and easy?
May 12, 2006 06:12AM
My client needs silhouetted dancers (Ipod commercial style). I am getting really nervous because my budget doesn?t allow for rotoscoping or major tweaking if something goes wrong during the shoot. Basically, I am limited to FCP and it?s notorious chroma-key filter to pull this one off.

How should I light the talents to achieve the best possible chroma-key with sharpest possible edge contrast? Is Final Cut a fan of blazing green backdrop or could slightly more subdued lightning scheme be better for hair and fine details? I don?t want to go crazy with edge feather or spill suppressor because I need sharpest possible pictures I can get.

I can pick between Sony DNW-700WSP and DSR-500WSP cameras. I think digibeta is better for chroma key but DVCam is my preferred acquisition media. Any recommendations?

Can I expect to achieve professional looking results using FCP as my only compositing/keying tool? Any helpful tricks and advice will be greatly appreciated.
Re: Greenscreen shooting and FCP, quick and easy?
May 12, 2006 07:58AM
Most of your answers are here:


And yes...using a less compressed format will yield better results DV and DVCAM colorspace compress out a lot of the color making it more challenging (but not impossible) to key....

Do a web search for the IPOD commercial and production - I remember seeing a fairly detailed article on exactly how they pulled it off (and they had to rotoscope and animate the Ipod earbud white lines in)

Best wishes, Andy
Re: Greenscreen shooting and FCP, quick and easy?
May 12, 2006 10:02AM
i suppose of you keep light off the dancers that'll make things a lot easier.

only problem comes when the producer changes their mind and asks to see them!

actually i remember a post i read a few years ago where someone was recommending using a pink rim light on the talent, to alleviate green spill.


Re: Greenscreen shooting and FCP, quick and easy?
May 12, 2006 10:50AM
>>my budget doesn?t allow for rotoscoping or major tweaking<<

Then why not just shoot the talent silouhetted? It won't look exactly like the iPod spots, but can be very cool if styled (wardrobe) and lit properly.

Re: Greenscreen shooting and FCP, quick and easy?
May 12, 2006 11:49AM
<<<using a pink rim light on the talent,>>>

Amber, actually. You can use relatively dim backlights with a CTO filter to gently tint the lights amber. (CTO= Color Temperature, Orange. It's a common lighting filter)

If you do it right, it's relatively invisible in the final and it makes keying *enormously* easier. It also has the advantage (unlike pink) that it looks pretty good on most human skin (think rich sunset).

Video achieves a great savings in data by making the color fuzzy. Most video formats do it, some more than others.

Imagine a scene done sharply and in great detail with black and gray paints and pencils, then color the scene with cans of translucent spray paint. That's how television saves data by making the color parts fuzzy. Colors don't have to be sharp to create a good looking picture. The black and gray parts will do that.

DV and DVCPro require you to stand twice as far back with the cans of paint.

Chroma Keys work by looking at the sharp edges of the spray paint--something of a contradiction in terms. That's why the higher-end video formats key so good. The spray paint is more accurate.

The peak of the video craft is the uncompressed 4:4:4:4 format. No spray paint. Everything including all the colors are perfectly detailed and crisp.

My mom could key from that.


Anonymous User
Re: Greenscreen shooting and FCP, quick and easy?
May 12, 2006 11:52AM
Nick & Clay's suggestions are perfect for the poor-man's iPod commercial look.

It'll get you close, and won't take too big of a bite out of your budget.

If they want it to look exactly like the iPod commercial, then they need to give you a bigger budget.

Remember the old video production adage, "Good, fast, cheap. Pick two".

Re: Greenscreen shooting and FCP, quick and easy?
May 12, 2006 04:54PM
also, if you can get your hands of adobe after effetcts there's a new traning dvd from this guy andrew kramer, and he goes over EXACTLY how to do it, in multiple different fashions etc. it takes about 30 min max per person as long as they are shot decently.

the dvd is 50 bucks and is available at

Amateur Teacher
Re: Greenscreen shooting and FCP, quick and easy?
May 12, 2006 09:07PM
dv matte garage. Or something like that. They have a plugin for greenscreen use and "Motion" that is unbelievably fast and better than native FCP. I have been playing in Motion using green screen shots and it is much faster, better than FCP even without the plug in from dv matte.


"A problem can never be solved by the same consciousness that created it"
Re: Greenscreen shooting and FCP, quick and easy?
May 14, 2006 09:02PM
I just had a green screen shoot this week and our confused producer went down and started shooting on DV CAM even after I made it clear that it would no work.

If you want to save money (Time) do not shoot on DV. It is too hard to make the edges look good and if your foreground is moving it will look even worse. Since Digibeta not only samples every second pixel with chroma but also is a 10-bit format, the difference is enourmous.

Having said that, this only applies to a chroma key, not a luma key. Luma values in DV and Digibeta are of similar quality. So if you shoot black silhoettes on a white background DV CAM may be acceptable. If you have a green screen dont even consider DV.

I had to take it into Shake eventually and mix a few different masks and keys to get a half decent look but it took ages and its technically not that easy.

Johan Polhem
Motion Graphics
Re: Greenscreen shooting and FCP, quick and easy?
May 15, 2006 03:59PM
Thank you guys for lively discussion and helpful tricks. Tinting my key light to amber was a great idea and hopefully proves successful in two days.

John mentioned the luma-key. I am shooting silhouettes so why not? This was something I looked into until my demo test failed. At least with FCP?s luma tool I couldn?t control the effect accurately enough. With fully blown backdrop at 100% and over I still wasn?t able to mask the subject. Choosing Chroma filter and selecting white as a primary key improved my results significantly but not up to professional standards. I have no idea why it failed. The theory should be simple; keep everything under 98% and rid the rest. Did not work sad smiley
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login



Web Hosting by HermosawaveHermosawave Internet

Recycle computers and electronics