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Probably one the most used techniques would be green screening.  It allows you to put your actor in front of virtually anything.  Green screening isn’t too hard to do but if you don’t follow a few simple steps, it won’t turn out right.
What do you need?

  • Green screen or wall that is painted green (needs to be a true green color)
  • About 4 or 5 lights
  • Editing program that has a “Keying” feature or “Chroma Key” and can have multiple layers of footage

To start off, you’ll need to setup your green screen.  A sheet works fine for this as long as it is the right color (see below.)  Why does it have to be green you ask?  Well, it can be either green or blue.  These are the colors farthest away from a person’s skin tone.  I prefer to use green, but blue will work fine as well.  Just pin it up to the wall.  However, make sure you leave enough room for lights, the camera, etc.  This technique takes up quite a bit of space.  After you have set up your screen, you’ll need to add in your lights.  This is probably the most crucial part of the process.  The whole point of the lighting is to eliminate any shadows that your actor puts off.  For the basics of what is known as “three point lighting”, click here. Three point lighting works, but I prefer four lights.  Rather than having one camera in front of the actor and two on either side of them, you would have two lights in front of your actor.  The more lights you have, the better you’ll be able to eliminate shadows.  Here is how my setup usually goes:

Setup of green screen

Setup of green screen

(Despite the color on the image, the screen should be close to this color green)

True Green Color

As you see, there are two lights to either side of the actor, along with two in front of them.  You’ll also notice a fifth light above the actor.  Now, if you don’t have five lights to use, you can still get away with only using four (three point lighting plus the light above your actor.)  If you need lights, Home Depot sells work lights that are perfect for this.  They go for about $40 a lamp.  When it comes to lighting, that’s pretty cheap.  After you’ve setup your lighting, all there is left to do is film.

Once you have the film you need, it’s time to go into the editing part of it all.  You’ll need a program that can edit out all of the green.  I use MAGIX Movie Edit Pro 12 which is a rather nice program for the price.  You can spend hundreds of dollars on programs that do similar things.  But anyway, once you’re in your editing program and you have imported your footage, you’ll need to find something called “Chroma Key”.  You should probably look up how to use the chroma key specifically for your program.

After all of that, you can put whatever you want in the background.  This would be where the multiple layers come in.  Just import your other footage or picture (or whatever you’re using) and put it on a layer behind your actor.

There you have it!  Green screening done easy.