Going Green, Again

The Challenge

This project is an infomercial for a leading Korean Karaoke brand. The product is awesome and superior in a lot of ways but the features are highly technical. The challenge was to make a fresh video that would stick and sell to anybody–from high-profile artists to simple buyers and sellers in Raon–a place in Manila where one can find almost anything cheaper than anywhere else. It must also sell even without audio because it will also be displayed in windows and places not so conducive to hearing what one is watching. And of course, everything must fit in a budget. So I wrote a script that would make a talent become three individuals to represent competition, shoot in one location but put them in three different ones and make them interact with each other to spice it up–possible only with green screen.

karaokeQueen02

Filming infomercial using my favorite color–green 🙂

The Process

Shooting in green screen is easy if you plan ahead and make a detailed shot list. Filming three different characters with a single talent can become confusing and post production a mess if not done properly. With proper planning, shot list and a good slate, it’s quite simple, really. The only problem with green screen production are the heavy computer processing required of HD footage and the different layers of keying processes. Chroma setting would be different for the talent, her hair, the product and props as they have different shininess and reactions to light. There would be lots of tweaking, masking, keyframing, and sleepless nights.

Tips

If you’re planning to shoot on blue or green screen, plan ahead, make a shot list with details of props, location, shooting time, wardrobe, etc. so you can shoot systematically. Shooting all sequences with the same scene settings in one sweep will make everything a lot easier and light. You will gain respect from everybody this way, as well.

Light your subject and your background separately and keep your lighting on the green backdrop as even as possible. This will keep you keying process a lot easier. Avoid shiny props as these will reflect the green backdrop. Anything green on the recorded video gets invisible upon keying causing more editing time which you probably wouldn’t have.

Have a backup audio recording. In my case, I recorded the talent’s voice via two wired lapel mics, the first goes to a Phantom-powered Zoom H4N and the second one goes directly to the camera. My DSLR audio recording is not perfect but when the first recording have irreparable pops, backup audio is the life-saver.

One thing to keep in mind is the post production time frame. Yes, with a wild imagination, fresh ideas come out but they can also make post production become really tedious if not difficult. Submit a realistic and attainable schedule so you won’t put a lot of stress on yourself trying to beat your own deadline. You may have control on the execution of your story but not on you computer’s video rendering capability. Go easy on the blurs and avoid semi-transparent shadows and feathers.

One trick to make editing and re-editing a lot quicker is to prerender the chroma keying and graphic elements in different layers so that if changes are needed to be done on your animation or subtitles, you would not have to render everything again and again. Graphic elements with alpha matte renders in seconds to a few minutes. Chroma keying however, can take a few hours depending on your tweaks and number of layers. It makes sense not to pre-render them together. I use PNG sequences for all my prerenders for optimum-quality output.