Background Options For Compositing
So now that you understand why I get into composites, or why I like composites, let's talk about some backgrounds. Let's say you were brand new to green screen photography and have no idea what's going on or what you should pick out. So we're gonna talk a little bit about that. First we're gonna talk about color, size and material. They're the three things I'm gonna go over. So color. Captain Obvious says you should probably know at this point what the best color is for extracting and creating composites. Green screen, right? But why green screen? There's a few different reasons but one of the top reasons is there are automated actions that easily extract your subject from green screen. Why does green screen work with an automated action? It's because cameras have more green magic in them than other colors, and this is actually true. Green screen or the color green is, the human eye is most sensitive to the color green, specifically a yellowish green color. And so as camera manufacture...
rs and software developers are creating their programs, they put more information into that green color to make sure it shows up better. So as the actions or plugins are working and they can more easily and readily find a subject on a green background and plus, humans don't have the natural green tones naturally in their skins. So it makes it very easy for that software to find. Occasionally though there'll be a little league or someone that'll come in in like bright green uniforms, it's getting a little bit more popular these days, so you can use a blue screen also. A blue screen is a secondary option. It's not quite as popular as green screen. A, because the camera information isn't quite as much there. It's also inherently a little bit darker than green screen so you have to spend a little bit more time making it brighter with your lights. Also people tend to have more clothing that has blue in it, blue jeans and stuff like that. So it's a secondary option that's good to have but green screen is certainly top. If you're just doing extractions, white is an option or gray or any solid color. The only thing is that you can't have an automated action with a white 'cause there's no way a computer program can know the difference between the whites of her eyes and the whites between her hair. So it can't be an automated action. You can spend some time extracting a subject from any background you want, it's just green is going to be way faster for you. So talk about size a little bit here. And the question you have to ask about is what type of portraits am I going to be taking? Are you just a close up photographer? Do you like just head shots? Then you don't need a very big background. A smaller background will be perfect for you because you have less likelihood of a lot of green spill coming around in front of your subject. So like a three by three or even a four foot circle would be perfect just to set behind the subject. However, if you plan on doing like 3/4 or full length subjects, then you might need a little bit larger. Maybe a six by eight or something like that to have a little bit of room around your subject. If you plan on doing action, maybe small groups or kind of some more dynamic posing where you're down low at different angles using wide angle lenses and stuff like that, then as big a background as you can get is nice. This is actually in my studio. I have a 10 foot by 24, 10 by 24, background in my studio. And the athlete is moving, he's jumping, I'm at a lower angle, he's out from a distance from the background, he easily jumped off that screen. So you can see how the larger the background that I can utilize the better. I can still use this as a perfectly viable opportunity to create a composite for him because it's just going to take a little bit more time to extract around his head but the rest of his body will be instantaneous. So I always shoot wide and then crop in later just in case an athlete would happen to do something amazing just off the scene, off the green screen. Material, there's a variety of material options. There are cloth, Lycra, felt, paper, paint and vinyl and probably some others that I didn't even think about. But for most of those it kinda depends on your needs, the pros verse cons. Cloth is readily available, there's lots of different options for that. It's not quite, it's pretty affordable. The only thing about cloth is and you'll see as we work on this background today, it's gonna have some wrinkles in it. So you have to pull those wrinkles tight, spend a little bit of time securing it, making sure that there's no wrinkles and dark spots as patterns go across that with wrinkles. Lycra is a nice material, it pulls very tight, kind of wraps around a frame, so it doesn't get those wrinkles in it but it's generally not something you walk on so you don't do full body shots with it typically. Felt is another option that's kind of just a heavier cloth. It's supposed to have less bounce or less spill from it because somehow it absorbs it because it's softer. I don't know if light works quite that way but it's just kind of the same thing as cloth where it still will get some wrinkles and it's also going to take a little bit of time to clean if someone gets it dirty because it's not as easy to clean as like throwing it in the laundry as cloth is. Paper is another option. Paper though if you plan on doing volume stuff is going to get destroyed very quickly. It's also not cleanable so like as soon as someone walks on it with dirty footprints or if they have spikes or something, it's gonna get shredded pretty quickly. Paint is an option, you can totally paint a cool like just wall of your studio green but it's going to take up some area. With any of these options too, make sure you're actually getting green screen, chroma key green and not just any random green. So I actually bought this one on Amazon here. And you can see, so it can work with a little bit of tweaking to like the green once I get it in Photoshop but you can see the difference. It's not the same green. So you're looking for a chroma key green and some companies, they just don't know what chroma key green is. They'll say hey, we have a green background, let's call it chroma key green. So make sure you're buying it from a reputable source that actually knows what they're talking about. Like I said this can still work it just takes a little bit more tweaking. I actually use a vinyl green screen in my studio and we'll be showing that a little bit later, photographing the model on it, but a vinyl background is very nice because the benefits of it laying flat. As I pull it out, it doesn't have wrinkles on it, I don't have to worry about securing it or taping it down to the floor. It also is very durable, I can clean it off if athletes come in with dirty feet. I have hundreds and hundreds of athletes come across my green screen, I've had horses on it, I've had all kinds of stuff. And it just lasts for a very long time. The downfalls about vinyl is that it doesn't transport as easily, it's on like a roll, it's kind of like canvas where you're not going to fold it or something. So it's harder to stick in the back of your car and transport it somewhere. So if you're interested, a quick little tip plug of Denny Manufacturing, they have this green screen, it's where I get it from, and if you're interested you can enter SHIRK25 in the customer comments and I can come back to this too later on but it's on dennymanufacturing.com, you'll go to their vinyl products, vinyl backgrounds, not vinyl banners, vinyl backgrounds and then look under their chroma key stuff from there. And that's SHIRK25 to get 25% off if you're interested.