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Old January 16th, 2007, 03:55 PM   #1
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Flat light neseccary for green screen shoots?

Hi all,

I'm considering a green-screen approach for an upcoming shoot, where we minimize the amount of set building by relying on digital backgrounds added in post.

What's holding me back is the 'flat' look of so much green-screen work. Basically, it seems that all the three-point lighting techniques that give actors definition get thrown out the window when people shoot them against green-screen.

Is this because folks are hedging their bets, with the idea that a 'neutral' look on the actors prevents odd continuity errors with the light sources used in the backgrounds? Or is it essential to create the flat lighting in order to pull a successful key?

My thought is that the actors should be lit so that they look good, regardless of the green-screen in the BG, and the lighting for the background should then be designed so the sources occupy the same relative position as those used in the live action shoot. Conversely, if the background 'drives' the light plot, then the foreground should be lit to match. But all too often, I see neither taking place - just flat lighting on the foreground which results in a cut and paste look.

Am I wasting my time trying to light people properly when doing heavy green-screening?

A
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Old January 16th, 2007, 05:59 PM   #2
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"Flat" lighting is only really required for the green screen itself, to make sure it's lit as evenly as possible. One should certainly be able to be creative with the foreground lighting, and for that matter, should be striving to match the lighting of the background plate so the composite looks realistic.

That said, there are some circumstances where the foreground lighting may need to be compromised a bit. For example, you want to avoid any key lights that cast a shadow on the screen (unless that shadow is needed over the background plate), or you may need to adjust the position or colour of the lighting to compensate for green spill. Fortunately, most digital keyers do a great job of handling these problems for you, unlike the photo-chemical era.

The problems you're seeing may be attributed to shots being done in TV studio environments where the lighting is flat by default.
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Old January 16th, 2007, 06:26 PM   #3
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Ah, so it's the TV studio infrastructure that's the real culprit. Many thanks for the insight.

Too bad I can't blame that architecture for my swapping of esses and cees.

Cheers,

a
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