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Exterior Blue/Green Screen Challenge

Published : 26th July 2004


A producer contacted me last night and is looking for help in approaching a large exterior green/blue screen shot for a commercial. The shot needs to fly over and look down on 5 people on of them a child just learning to ride a bicycle. So it's mostly a floor that's needed about 30' x 30'. After extensive reading of the edited pages on this site, I have a good handle on using a green/blue 'wall' outside, but some questions remain about the 'floor' aspect.

The exterior nature of this shot has everything to do with saving the cost of a studio. What can the key material be? Rolled roofing material painted on the most level parking lot we can find? Is this just not a good idea?

This query most likely belongs in another discussion place, let me know if I should move it and to where.

By the way, this CML is a great service.

Thanks,

Phil Cormier, DP
Falmouth, Maine



A good way to save costs on a commercial of that nature, is to hire a student associate producer who can get you a college studio, that you can do all of this in for cheap.

Many colleges/ Universities have studios for students to use and they get them for no money at all, which would sole your problem of finding a cheap studio as well as not having to deal with keeping an even amount of light on your blue screen floor, this way you can light from above and the sides ,and rent a jib arm, and not having to deal with the terrible light for the summer sun.

J S
Gaffer, San Diego



>A good way to save costs on a commercial of that nature, is to hire a >student associate producer who can get you a college studio, that you >can do all of this in for cheap.

Yes, because of course college facilities exist for the sole purpose of saving a producer some cash! If it were a PSA, ok, but for an ad this strikes me as disgusting.

Jeff Kreines



Phil :

An exterior key is a very good idea, you just have to carefully choose the place, not just for level and evenness but carefully see if during day there are shadows cast by buildings or such.

As with any other limbo situation try to give an edge to your talents without touching the key surface, maybe a slightly diffused 12K PAR almost flat on the floor; if you can't do that (or as an addition) you can paint the key surface in a slightly darker hue than recommended (in my experience about 1/3 stop worth). Maybe you should repaint the surface when you are done but if you don't have to, maybe you just leave it like that for another exterior key job.

Good luck.

Victor Lefelham



Victor Lefelman wrote :

>An exterior key is a very good idea, you just have to carefully choose the >place, not just for level and evenness but carefully see if during day >there are shadows cast by buildings or such

It strikes me that they might save money on a studio but the whole shoot now rests on weather conditions. As long as cast, crew, rental house etc is willing to accept last minute rain/weather changes. It also seems that you have another problem given your overhead shot... The Sun.

Any sweeping jib shots or such runs into shadow problems. You'd need, it seems, a perfect overcast day. Then you can being in an edge or such as others suggested. Or, perhaps, shoot at night. Maybe you can find an Astroturf field.

If not a studio, why not some cheap old warehouse space. All you need is a large empty space.

John Roche, Gaffer
NYC



Phil Cormier writes :

>A producer contacted me last night and is looking for help in >approaching a large exterior green/blue screen shot for a commercial.

Assuming you're shooting video: If possible bring the Ultimatte or whatever gear & tech with you to the shoot. This will immediately put any doubts about the quality of the matte to rest.

>The exterior nature of this shot has everything to do with saving the cost >of a studio. What can the key material be? Rolled roofing material >painted on the most level parking lot we can find? Is this just not a good >idea?

It's not a great idea. If I had to go this route, and if I could not paint the parking lot surface itself, I would go with painted cloth. If you can secure the edges, and paint it in place, theatrical canvas will shrink nicely and give you a good surface, as will muslin -- provided off course that the lot surface is decent. Keeping any material from being damaged by the bicycle will be difficult. Rolled roofing does not take ordinary paint very well -- we've tried. Unless the paint contains solvents designed for the purpose, any pressure on it will cause the paint to peel off.

The costs and headaches involved might make a studio seem like a bargain.

Brian "Hello Phil" Heller
IA 600 DP



>Yes, because of course college facilities exist for the sole purpose of >saving a producer some cash!

Hear hear!

When I was in college, the school had a strict policy against use of school facilities to compete with (and undercut) commercial facilities.

The general theory being that your graduates will eventually need to actually earn a living, so undercutting the industry is counterproductive.

Don't know if many schools still take the high road, though...

George Hupka
Director/DP
Downstream Pictures
Saskatoon, Canada



>The exterior nature of this shot has everything to do with saving the cost >of a studio. What can the key material be? Rolled roofing material >painted on the most level parking lot we can find?

One possibility might be the cheapest grade of linoleum painted. If you can find green linoleum, one coat might do it. You could seam it with that double stick carpet tape - either half lapping it or butting it up.

Another possibility is a plastic material that is (or was) sold by GAM (Great American Market)

It is primarily used as a roll down temporary wood grain floor for concrete floor tv studios, that sort of thing, but they also have blue and green that they claim are suitable for keying

I have not used the stuff yet, but it seemed like a great idea look for a website for Great American Market

As of a couple of years ago, Lloyd Fredus was repping some of their products and he is a knowledgeable guy - don't know if he is still there

Mark Weingartner
LA based



Mark Weingartner writes :

>Another possibility is a plastic material that is (or was) sold by GAM >(Great American Market)

Great idea. It's called GamFloor. However, it's about a dollar a square foot and requires some skill to apply on a flat floor. a parking lot might be a bit of a challenge...

Brian Heller
IA 600 DP



Thanks to all for the replies so far. Yes, and hello Brian Heller. I am one your great fans.

Your presence on this list is a great thing for all.

Phil Cormier DP
Falmouth, Maine



I agree.

As the dept head at a proprietary (That is, not a non-profit) institution, I'm not interested in providing such services. At least not for less than the going rate!

There's really nothing in it for the school or the students, except tying up the facilities unnecessarily. We do a lot of PSA's for non-profits, and other projects.

You get what you pay for anyways.

I think the best bet for the original question is to paint a large smooth concrete or tile or linoleum surface. Do you want to see well defined shadows? If not, you probably want to set up a large overhead silk, or arrange to shoot on an over cast day.

All in all though, I think the results will be good. The sun is a remarkably even light source.

Steven Bradford
Collins College
Phoenix Arizona


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