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Materials used in building a green screen room


Mo Kamal
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Hello,

 

 

I have a spare room that I decided to use for chroma keying, I searched around quite a bit, but all the info I could find is on lighting green screens or handling the footage in post. What I really need is a guide or even some pointers on the actual process of building the set. For example what brand of paint to use, what materials would work best for the cycs and for the floors. Should I setup a grid for lighting?, if so how should it be done?

 

I realize those are a lot of questions and that most of the time the process needs tweaking and depends on the type of shoot, but still I am hoping there is a standard setup somewhere that pretty much would be versatile enough to handle most types of shoots.

 

Thanks :)

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The first thing you should ask yourself is whether or not your spare room is really big enough for that. I don't know of any houses with a large enough room with high enough ceilings to be useful for that. You really have to separate your subject from the screen by at least a healthy 10 feet. That means that the screen must be larger to compensate.

 

I wouldn't even consider it unless you have 12-14 foot ceilings, a wall 20 or 30 feet wide for the screen and 30 or 40 feet of depth to back off a camera and have lights, monitors, a crew, etc. That's all a pretty bare minimum. Anything less and your subjects suddenly can't move and the usefulness of the screen will be severely hampered.

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The first thing you should ask yourself is whether or not your spare room is really big enough for that. I don't know of any houses with a large enough room with high enough ceilings to be useful for that. You really have to separate your subject from the screen by at least a healthy 10 feet. That means that the screen must be larger to compensate.

 

I wouldn't even consider it unless you have 12-14 foot ceilings, a wall 20 or 30 feet wide for the screen and 30 or 40 feet of depth to back off a camera and have lights, monitors, a crew, etc. That's all a pretty bare minimum. Anything less and your subjects suddenly can't move and the usefulness of the screen will be severely hampered.

 

 

floor to ceiling = 11.5 ft

 

the widest wall = 42.6 ft

 

the other wall = 15.7 ft

 

 

I never said the room was in my house :), it used to be a storage room owned by relatives, and now they aren't using it.

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Well you've basically got an "insert stage," with a large staging area... Since the room is only 15ft one direction you can't really make use of the 42ft wall as a background. That means you have a long "tunnel" with a 15 x 11 wall at one end.

 

The simplest thing would be to get a 12x12' greenscreen backdrop and make a custom frame; the tiny bit of extra material will allow you to curve it at the bottom a little.

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Since the room is only 15ft one direction you can't really make use of the 42ft wall as a background. That means you have a long "tunnel" with a 15 x 11 wall at one end.

 

Thats exactly what i was planning to do, I was planning to use the smaller wall (15 x 11) for the background, the reason I need the green screen is to use on small indy type projects, like short films, and general practice and experimentation, before I move on to a bigger permanent place a coule of years down the road, for that purpose I think the size would do just fine. Do you agree?

 

The reason I want to use paint and cycs and all that instead of a backdrop, is that the experimentation and building process is a big part of my goal, and because someone else is paying so to some extent money and effort are not a problem.

 

Those were my initial thoughts but ofcourse I'm not stuck on them, i'm here for advice.

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If it's only to learn how to shoot green screen, then I think a simple (and flexible) approach would be best. Get a cheap greenscreen and build a frame out of lumber or whatever, and you'll also have a greenscreen you can take on location with you.

 

http://www.filmtools.com/bola10x12chg.html

 

Compare that to the trouble and expense of building a smooth wall that you can put stands behind for backlighting, and painting it with multiple coats of chroma green paint (it's not that cheap).

 

I would advise keeping the space flexible (hence the backrop and frame). In that size space you're going to constantly be repositioning things for various shots. Your lighting/flagging is going to take up a good portion of that 11x15 space, so it's not like you'll always have a full 11x15 area or background for shooting.

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If it's only to learn how to shoot green screen, then I think a simple (and flexible) approach would be best. Get a cheap greenscreen and build a frame out of lumber or whatever, and you'll also have a greenscreen you can take on location with you.

 

http://www.filmtools.com/bola10x12chg.html

 

Compare that to the trouble and expense of building a smooth wall that you can put stands behind for backlighting, and painting it with multiple coats of chroma green paint (it's not that cheap).

 

I would advise keeping the space flexible (hence the backrop and frame). In that size space you're going to constantly be repositioning things for various shots. Your lighting/flagging is going to take up a good portion of that 11x15 space, so it's not like you'll always have a full 11x15 area or background for shooting.

 

 

Keeping the space flexible does sound very appealing, I dunno why but for some reason I felt that having the wall painted would give me a more durable green screen than a flimsy fabric. like I said I have no experience with all this, so I'm not arguing with what your saying but out of curiosity, why do people paint walls when you have the obvious disadvantage of not being able to reposition?

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Also another thing that made me feel paint would be better than fabric, was that I thougt that if I had the actors walking on a painted floor it would be much easier to key than if they were walking on a sheet of fabric. Am I totally off there?

 

Even though the room is small, I was hoping to have the option of shooting people walking (with their feet in the frame).

Edited by Mo Kamal
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People usually use chroma paint instead of fabric when they need to cover a large area with multiple planes (floors and walls) that would be too difficult to rig with fabric (the idea is that you stretch the fabric tightly across a frame, so there are no wrinkles).

 

But in the case a of a "curved cyc" wall, the construction of the wall and transition to the floor has to be pretty precise. It's a lot more work and expense than is really necessary for someone just trying to learn how to use greenscreen.

 

Yes, a painted curved-cyc will allow better head-to-toe shots for keying, but it's not impossible to do with fabric.

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I know I will be buying a fabric backdrop for it's portability around the room and to take outside if needed, but I'm still thinking that because I have the room and the time, and because I have someone willing to pay the expenses, it would be silly not to try and paint and make the curved cycs, especially since I know I will want to know how it is done for use in bigger projects in the future.

 

I really appreciate your time and advice Michael, and for almost anyone with a room like the one I described, your advice would probably be spot on, but for me I wanna get into the diy spirit and play around with some paint :)

Edited by Mo Kamal
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Thanks, I expect it will be fun once I get started, though for now I'm still clueless when it comes to which materials to use and especially clueless on specification for the curved cys and for the floors.

Edited by Mo Kamal
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Thank you for the links Michael, and sorry it took me a while to post. I contacted procyc.com and I'm waiting for them to send me a quote. Their stuff looks so cool that I might just forget about building the cycs myself (if they're not crazy expensive).

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Every one's posts are pretty spot on, I learned through trial and error about the light reflection from the screen when you are too close. this is what we used to actually paint a tarp from the home center. Does an ok job, kind of heavy, but we don't move it around much. Pulls agood key with the right lighting and spacing.

 

http://www.detonationfilms.com/low_budget_...green_paint.htm

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We had a very small room, maybe 8x8 in my previous studio setup. We had painted one of the walls chromakey green, and we backlit it as well as lighting in front of it... we were able to get a really good key with that. I'm sure having a larger room would be better, but it can be done with less.

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We had a very small room, maybe 8x8 in my previous studio setup. We had painted one of the walls chromakey green, and we backlit it as well as lighting in front of it... we were able to get a really good key with that. I'm sure having a larger room would be better, but it can be done with less.

 

of course it can be done, I was playing around once and pulled a perfect key off my bedroom white wall with only sunlight coming in through the window, but still this doesn't mean that this is the best way to go, I think what the Michael Nash was saying is that if you wanna have a professional setup with a big crew and a bit of equipment then things will be cramped and so you might as well use a portable backdrop.

 

For me though, the next step now would be figuring out how to build the cycs, the links above that Michael Nash provided contain an illustration that I think may be helpful. also I found this thread:

http://www.cinematography.net/Pages%20DW/H...onstruction.htm

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You can pull keys from surprisingly bad setups. I've shot so many greenscreened interviews in cramped doctors offices on 6x6 flexfills its ridiculous. At that point, it's all about lighting to get seperation.

 

This is what we use to paint our cyc wall: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/9046...reen_Paint.html

 

It's not cheap and it takes two coats. Generally when we have to paint the studio for a project there is a built in paint charge as it's constantly going back and forth from white to green to blue, etc. and it gets quite expensive.

 

Good Luck!

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Sorry about the double post.

 

Chad: does your setup have more than one wall ?, we're in the process of building the cycs, and the wall to floor part is easy to make, but building the corner (wall to wall to floor) part is much more difficult than I imagined. any thought there?

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