How To Light Green Screen Series: Lighting a Moving Subject

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How To Light Green Screen Series: Lighting a Moving Subject

Shooting a mobile subject in front of a green screen provides an extra challenge and can prove difficult in keeping a clean image, but that’s not going to stop us from doing it! I’m going to show you the importance of white light, explain why there’s a necessity for an additional light source, and a few tips and tricks in pulling focus along the way!

Now, let’s get to it!!!

The Super-Green tubes were fine when Monette was mostly standing still and we could shape the light around her, but if we want to have her walk back and forth away from the screen without worrying about contamination, we’ll have to switch out our green tubes for white.

Even though our white tubes are at the same settings that we had for the Super-Greens, they aren’t bright enough on their own to light Monette and the screen evenly.

Why is this? It’s not because the Super-Green tubes are brighter. They only appear brighter because the green light that they project is at the wavelength that the screen is best at reflecting.

You’ll see the same thing happen when using Super-Blue tubes during a blue screen shoot. For instance, this was something I had to consider when shooting The Adventurers. There were a bunch of blue screen scenes in this movie, and they all involved a lot of movement.

An additional source is needed to get the screen bright enough to draw a good key. In our case, we’ll bring our Maxi light back out.  While working to get this key you may end up with some hot spots near the bottom of the screen, but they shouldn’t be anything that the visual effects team can’t easily handle in post.

Now that Monette can move around in front of the screen, I want to talk about the art of focus pulling. Being a good focus puller requires a “zen” state of mind. You have to be calm, collected, and attuned to the physical movements of your talent.

I did a very minimal amount of focus pulling in my day, but I remember approaching it with the same mindset as a carpenter. You have to be able to mentally determine the distance between objects before measuring. Try practicing by sitting in a room and really try to determine how far apart two objects are based on sight alone. Then put your guess to the test by physically measuring the distance.

Pay attention to how the talent you’re working with moves. This is essential, especially when they are moving back and forth from the camera at different speeds. Look no further than Monette, who now that our screen is properly lit and our color temperature is consistent, can move around doing everything from walking back and forth to performing a Tsukuhara twist!

This is the main takeaway from lighting with white Kino Flo tubes — your talent can move around the set as much as they want. There is far less contamination than with the Super-Green tubes, and the light hitting your subject looks like ambient light that is just part of the scene.

 

Don’t worry about losing brightness compared to the Super-Greens because what appears to be their greater brightness is only an optical illusion. It’s also extremely important that you or whoever you have pulling focus while shooting a moving subject be completely aware of and in sync with the physical movements of the talent.

This concludes Part 3 of our green screen lighting demonstration. Let’s go over what we’ve learned.

  • Lighting your talent and the green screen with the same color temperature allows your subject greater freedom of movement
  • With the Super-Green tubes, there’s a lot of contamination on Monette and we had to shape the light around her
    • This type of lighting is best when your talent is stationary, such as during an interview
  • White tubes combined with additional sources of the same color temperature brightens the screen with a quality similar to ambient light
    • I like to use a Maxi light as our additional source
    • The additional light sources appears to just be part of the scene
  • Super-Green tubes only appear to light a green screen brighter
    • Its greater brightness is an optical illusion
    • This is because the wavelength that they give off is the wavelength that the screen can reflect easiest
  • Being a good focus puller requires honing skills including:
    • Being able to gauge distances between objects mentally
    • The ability to predict the movements of talent in order to adjust to movements toward and away from the camera
    • Lots and lots of practice!!!
  • Lighting with White Kino Flo tubes
    • Far less contamination than with Super-Green tubes
    • The light hitting your subject looks like ambient light that is just part of the scene
    • Your talent and crew can move around freely without disrupting the shot

 

Here’s an overview of this series and what’s to come:

HOW TO LIGHT GREEN SCREEN SERIES

 

  • How to Light Green Screen Series Part 1: Using Kino-Flo Super-Green Tubes
  • How to Light Green Screen Series Part 2: Lighting Your Subject
  • How to Light Green Screen Series Part 3: Lighting a Moving Subject
  • How to Light Green Screen Series Part 4: Lighting from the Ground
    • From the Ground
    • Kino Flo 400s
    • Openface Arri 750W
    • Fresnel 407s
  • How to Light a Green Screen Series Part 5: Lighting with Cineo Lights
    • Cineo Lights
    • Distances

See you next time,

-Shane Hurlbut, ASC
All videos were edited on HP Z840 workstations using HP Z24x DreamColor monitors.

 

Master the art of being a focus puller in this series!

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