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Craig Teunissen

GREEN SCREEN / SOUNDSTAGE / VFX PLATES

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Hi !



I’m a writer / director that is going into production on a low budget short film, that I’m also producing, which will be shot in the rural country side just outside London over 2 days in early December.



Its a dialogue heavy two hander that for the most part (80% of the script) takes place within a car, albeit, a car that is parked up along a country lane in the styx.



All things being equal I’d much rather shoot on location, but the combination of logistics - ie. the production involved with getting crew to location, setting up a base camp, proximity to ablutions, accounting for being at the mercy of potentially bad weather, dealing with only 8hrs of usable light that time of year, the cold, usable sound, as well as the expense of all the above, has got me considering shooting all the car interior shots on a soundstage / green screen, which actually works out cheaper to boot ( I’ve got all the quotes in already ).



For the most part, the camera stays with our two characters in the car, remains largely static apart from specific camera moves on specific beats in the story, nothing hand - held, all tripod and slider, thus mitigating some of the issues with combining VFX plates ( I think ).



Scenes do cut to car exterior shots ( singles and doubles through the front and side windows mainly) at specific moments, which we would shoot on location, but my thinking is that they will have an inherently different look anyway, considering reflections and the proclivity for windscreens to reduce contrast, so its only really the continuity of performance, and to a lesser degree the lighting, that I can see being issues here.



I know that I am just exchanging one set of issues ( Production Logistics ) for another ( technical logistics of VFX plates, lighting and acting continuity ) so my two questions are thus :



1> Is it worth it ?



2> And if so, what are the potential pitfalls my cinematographer and I should be looking out for if we are to shoot on a green screen / soundstage.



As an addendum to the above, my initial plans are to shoot the exterior location scenes ( as well as all the VFX plates ) first, so that I’m able to match as well as reference whatever lighting/weather conditions we have on the location day, in the studio on the second day.



I’d very much appreciate input from everyone : Cinematographers , Gaffers , VFX compositors , Directors and Producers as I’m looking for an overall picture as to what is involved with this kind of decision.



Thanks in advance !



C

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Did you also take into account the large post vfx costs or are you intending to do them by yourself? (if someone promises to do free vfx for you, don't trust them. They will either bail out or the work takes a year or two longer than intended. I've been burned this way like 20 times)

 

Shooting for backplate matching takes more time as well as the spill control. I cant see how it could be cheaper to produce as a whole using vfx and plates if the script is so short and easy

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My experience is that it must be cheaper to shoot the chroma key because... my producers keep asking that we do that instead of shooting these scenes on location :)

 

When done well, the chroma key looks absolutely real. I was just working on color correction today of a night driving scene that we shot chroma key and was very impressed by the results. But we did need to go out and shoot a lot of plates. Adding reflections on the glass windows in post also really helps sell the realism. So, when you shoot your plates, also shoot plates to be used as reflections on the glass. And, as a rule, shoot your plates a little bit wider than what you'll think is the right size to match your studio shots.

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