We have all seen green screens used in special effects for films or by high-end professionals to composite images together. One of the problems with doing green screen work has always been the cost of a good green screen backdrop and affordable lighting kits. As we have seen in the past (here) (here), PhotoBasics has brought the power of green screen production to the masses with an affordable new green screen kit.
The Photobasics Green Screen kit is available as both a video kit or a still photography kit with the difference being the disk of backgrounds, the trial software that is included, and the educational DVD. The system is as complete as it gets with the following items:
- (2) uLite Constant Lights
- (2) 20″ Collapsible Soft Boxes
- (2) 7′ Light Stands
- (2) 500-watt Photofloods
- (1) 9′ x 10′ wrinkle-resistant Green Screen
- (1) Educational DVD
- (1) Digital Backgrounds DVD
- (1) AdobeÂ® PhotoshopÂ® Elements 7 orÂ AdobeÂ® PremiereÂ® Elements 7 Trial
With all the equipment and software you need, you can start doing green screen work right away.
Setup of the lights is super simple since the softbox is built into the lamp holder, just push softbox ring over the lamp socket and snap it securely into place. Next, screw in one of the bulbs and put the softbox screen on.
The only thing you need to think about is how to hang the green screen. One simple way is to use 3M Commander hooks
which are easy to remove from a wall without leaving marks or holes. In my case, I happened to have a backdrop system so I ran a pole through the one end of the green screen backdrop and pulled it tight with clamps. The main thing you want to avoid is wrinkles. The material itself doesn’t really wrinkle like a crumpled up shirt, but its more about not having big folds or things that will affect being able to light the material completely.
Once the screen is up and your lights are setup, you are pretty much ready to shoot. Follow the instructions on the DVD for a good lighting setup and take some shots.
The educational DVD will show you how to edit the images with Photoshop Elements or Photoshop CS3/CS4 or if you are using the video kit it will show you how to edit the video footage with common apps or the sample application that is included.
Green Screen Setup
Using the kit is quite simple. The most important thing is to get the background as evenly lit as possible to make your editing go as easily as possible. If you have those two dialed in, then the process of using your green screen images is a simple matter of following along with the DVD.
In the image shown here you can see the lights on either side and the green screen pretty evenly lit and the shadows minimized. The more you work on minimizing shadows on the green screen the better off you are going to be. Also, take care not to have things that will reflect the green screen. In this shoot, the top of the amps and the white part of the guitar was reflecting the green quite a bit, although I didn’t notice this until I was editing the images, so it was a learning lesson for myself to watch for reflections in the future.
If you want even better masking control than the way that is explained in the DVD, try looking at Fluid Mask 3 which is available from StudioTaxi
or OnOne Software’s
Mask Pro 4.
Can you get some really good results just using the lights, screen, and the included software? The best way to find out was to actually give it a try and see what I could come up with. Here are a few images taken with the kit.
- Taylor Shot 1
In the previous shot here, notice the green reflected in the guitar. Had I noticed this during the shoot, a simple tilt back on the guitar would have solved the issue.
Taylor Shot 2
In the shot here, you can see the only reflect this time is the green reflecting in the chrome pieces of the guitar and the amp.
Fun Shot with David Esquire
And as you can see in this final shot, you not only can have fun, but you can even create some high-end fine art pieces. 🙂
The PhotoBasics Green Screen kit is a great starter kit for getting into green screen work and seeing where your imagination can take you. I was a little disappointed in the small number of backgrounds that were included but it is just a starter kit. There are lots of places to purchase digital backgrounds such as eBay or StudioTaxi
You actually can combine the lights that come with the kit with additional lights so that you can light the background seperately from the subject rather than having to have even side lighting. You can’t really use the kit lights for the background and strobes for the subject as the strobes will typically overpower the constant lights throwing shadows onto the background. Overall,Â for less than $300 you get two 500watt lights, light stands, and a green screen background which is not too bad of a deal.