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Lighting for Green Screen

Lighting a subject on a green screen is not an uncommon request these days. Setting up for a talking head interview is more straightforward than a scene in a Marvel movie, but the same principles apply to every shoot with VFX.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when getting started:

☑️ Light the background evenly. Use big soft sources for best results. Try to hit 40-45 IRE on your waveform and your editor will thank you! Let me know if you have questions about waveforms in the comments. There’s too much to unpack in one caption.

☑️ Keep your subject a good distance from the background to avoid any green spill. You’re most likely to notice the green spilling in the shadows of your subject. Sometimes you can add a slight “minus green” (aka magenta) color shift to your fill light to reduce the green on your subject if you can’t get enough separation from the background.

☑️ Get the lighting right! It’s really important to have a visual reference of the space your characters will be living in once the green background is removed. You need to know basic things like the source and direction of the light so it feels natural once composited.

The frame above is a composite of the three actors recorded in separate studios so having consistent lighting and blocking was very important.

Arri Skypanel S60s ran the show for just about every light source on this set. Two of them were rigged overhead and pushed through an 8x8 frame with silent 1/2 grid cloth and a 50 degree control grid to create a nice toppy fill. An L7C was the back edge, and the LiteMat 2L Plus was the fill light.

Tyler Kaschke is a freelance gaffer with a grip truck based in Lafayette, Colorado serving Boulder, Denver, Golden, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs and the Rocky Mountain region at large.


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