Video shooting with chroma key

Video shooting with a green screen (or chroma key)

Last week I had a new potential client tell me that someone from another video production company had told him about the possibility of doing a green screen shoot.  He was so impressed that he could be virtually anywhere by using this technology and wanted to know if I had ever considered doing this. I was somewhat taken aback because we’ve been doing these for years, even before we started shooting digitally. 

For someone to ask if this was possible reminded me of something that I have to keep learning: just because we do something as a matter of course, it doesn’t mean that our customers are aware of that. We have to keep educating them about what is possible. What we take as “givens” might be brand new and innovative to the client.

In the picture below are some shots from a training video we shot in 2000. The men were sitting in a boat talking about the topic being covered in the video (don’t remember what that was, but not important for this discussion) and they were “on a lake.” In post production we electronically  eliminated the green and added footage of a mountain lake and there they were.

What is fascinating about this is that a well done chroma key combining actual footage can convince the viewer that the subject is actually in the location we want to portray.


  


These pictures are from a shoot from last year. We were able to go to the client’s office and take a portable green screen. He was placed over a futuristic TV news set background as he addressed his viewers.


We were even using green screens in the last century. In fact, this Adecco new hire video we produced used actors and was shot as a green screen video production about 15 years ago. Then we added music and sound effects and graphics too.

In contrast to the pictures from the “fishing” chroma key above, this contains animation as the background, so we know we’re not fooling anyone about where the subjects are.


8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Mistake 8

MISTAKE 8.  LETTING YOUR IN-HOUSE “TALENT” JUST WING IT

Let’s face it, your co-workers are not professional actors, and they need some help to remember all the things they need to say and do on camera.  I discussed this recently with another producer friend of mine, and he commented, “If I had a nickel for every time I shot an exec who said he could just talk off the top of his head…  What disasters!”

I agree.  Use a teleprompter.  This corporate HR manager standing in front of the green screen will be looking up at the camera and delivering his script.

video production prompter

In this shoot with Steve Young, he’ll be addressing the camera using the prompter that our crew member is adjusting.

prompter for Steve Young

As you can see, the prompter mounts in front of the camera.  Your executive or employee can look right at the camera and read the words as if he were looking into the lens.  After a couple of practice runs, amateurs are almost always comfortable enough to blast right through the script.  It’s money well spent as it means faster shooting, less errors, and fewer frayed nerves.

And if your executive looks stiff or really doesn’t like the feel of “reading” the words, we can put up bullet points or PowerPoint slides on the prompter so that he or she can still appear to be looking at the audience.  This avoids the problem of the presenter looking away to notes or cue cards and looking “shifty eyed” as a result.

 

 

8 ways to doom your corporate video production – Mistake 6

CORPORATE VIDEO PRODUCTION MISTAKE 6.  DON’T USE A TRIPOD OR OTHER CAMERA SUPPORT

Video production pros know that a steady camera is critical to getting a good, interesting image.  If the camera is bouncing around, the viewer gets distracted and often, annoyed.  If the viewer’s mind is busy following the subject around the screen, it won’t be concentrating on your message.

At certain times, a moving camera becomes an art form, such as is seen in music videos.  But corporate videos are typically not music videos. Keep the camera on the tripod and keep the camera movements smooth.

When the video production pros shoot, there are a wide variety of camera mounts available for image stabilization.  These include various sizes of tripods, jib arms, cranes, dollies and a Steadicam®. 

video production in ChinaThe most common camera mount is the tripod. It’s portable, easily transported, and functions well at getting most of the basic shots. It provides a stable mount for lockdown shots, zooms, pans and tilts. Here you see one in use in a video production we did outdoors in China.

 

 
 

 

 

video production prompter and tripod

You always want your video production tripod to be sturdy enough to support the weight of the camera and anything else that might be added to it. A good example is this prompter which goes in front of the camera so that the speaker can be looking at the words while appearing to look right at the lens.

 
 
 

 

 

video production dollyHere’s a look at a video production dolly, with the camera operator on board, and the dolly grip pushing it on tracks.  The dolly gives great smooth shots, but due to the expense of rental and the two people needed to operate it, it can be a pricey addition to the program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

video production jib armHere we are using a jib arm in preparation to making swooping and climbing shots of a store facade.  The jib can be rented in various sizes and can create an almost 3D look, as it can be made to travel in three axes above and around the subject.  It needs a trained operator.
 

 
 

 

video production steadicamWhile the jib can move extensively around a subject, for true 3D views, a Steadicam® is called for.  This is a specialized harness that needs to be used by an experienced camera operator.  It can give dramatic looks at the subject, including moving smoothly around them for 360 degrees or more. Unless you have a Steadicam® and trained operator, don’t follow your subject around with the camera – leave it to the pros.

 

 

 

The bottom line? Be sure to use a camera support to get a professional look for your corporate videos.