Monthly Archives: August 2016

DIY Green Screen Paint

nellastudioPainting a wall in your home office studio with green paint can be one of the most cost-effective ways to create a green screen. Painted surfaces are durable, flat, and not prone to wrinkles (the curse of muslin green screens. ) But, you have to choose the right paint or your efforts will be doomed from the start. Picking the best green screen paint comes down to three things: finish, coverage, and color.

The Right Paint Finish

Interior house paints come in a wide variety of finishes like satin, eggshell, and semi-gloss. The optimal green screen finish provides a flat even surface that minimizes surface imperfections and reflections. The best paint finish for your home office green screen is flat paint. Flat paint creates a slightly dull and chalky looking finish that hides imperfections and will do a great job spreading out light evenly when it comes time to light your studio.

Flat finishes are less resistant to staining and harder to clean than others. Keep a little extra paint on hand for touch ups.

Paint Coverage

If you are choosing house paint to save money on your green screen, be careful not to over-economize. Cheap paints use inexpensive fillers that reduce the amount of color pigment used in each gallon. The result is a very thin layer of color that does not cover the wall effectively. You end up having to put more coats of paint on the wall to get proper color coverage. Brush marks and uneven color might not be important when painting the inside of your garage, but it will make a huge difference on the results you get from your green screen.

Choose a name brand paint designed for single coat coverage. Paints with built-in primer do an excellent job. Then, apply at least two coats of paint to ensure even coverage. Most household paints will cover 300-350 square feet per gallon. One gallon will usually be enough for a large wall with a bit left over for touch ups.

Paint Color

Successful green screen compositing relies on having the right color behind your performer. House paints create a specific color the same way you did back in art class. They mix several different colored pigments together to arrive at the color on the chip chart. The process works well and makes it easy to efficiently provide a rainbow of color choices at your local home center.

Professional green screen paints do not use pigment blends. They carefully select pigments that are exactly the right shade of pure green. There is no chance that the color might be a little ‘off’. ‘ This makes the paint more expensive to produce and less versatile for other uses. If you can afford the premium price, buy the good stuff. But, you can get excellent results with less expensive paints.

Do not trust your eyes when selecting colors. Picking a pure green color is a lot harder than you think. The one that looks right will usually have subtle undertones that will make it much harder for your editing software to separate the background and foreground. If you can get a small sample of chromakey green fabric or paint, take it to the store and have them use their color matching computer to create a custom paint mix. This will give you the best results possible with household paints.

If you don’t have a color sample to scan, there are a few pre-mixed paint color blends that independent video producers have tested and found to give the results possible. Pick one of these colors and you can be confident of getting excellent results from your home office green screen.

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How to Light For the Green Screen Video Effect

The green screen video effect is amazing. You stand in front of a green backdrop and hit record on the video camera. Then, you drop the footage into your video editing software, select a new background, apply the chromakey filter and you are instantly transported to a new location. You can be in a shiny new office, standing in a hightech virtual set, on the beach, or even on the moon. At least, that is how you imagine things will work.

All to often, the first attempt you make at the green screen effect produces disappointing results. When you try to remove the green background in your editing software, you do not get all of the color to disappear. You play around with the settings to get more of the green to go away and suddenly the middle of your shirt disappears. You make more and more adjustments until things look better. You have lost all of the fine details around the edges, but the green is gone. But, when you hit play, the edges of your footage dance around like lighting bolts. You go back and blur the edges until they turn to mush.

After hours of tweaking and fine-tuning, you have created bad green screen video.

Creating Bad Green Screen Video is Easy

The secret that most people selling the tools and software for the green screen video effect do not tell you is that it is really easy to create bad results. YouTube is littered with examples of horrible chromakey video. But, there is another secret. It is not much harder to produce fantastic chromakey video.

You do not have to spend thousands of dollars or hundreds of hours of effort to create videos you are proud to share with the world. One major key to success is how you light your screen.

The Big Screen Lighting Myth

There is a big misconception about shooting green screen video that comes from the companies selling screen and lighting kits. Search online and you will see an endless list of options for purchasing a kit that includes everything you need to shoot green screen video. The list of included items is always the same. You get a green muslin screen, a support stand to hold up the screen, and three lights. You always get three lights, and that is the problem.

To get the best results from the process, you need to light the screen separately from the subject. An ideal green screen lighting kit includes five lights. Two lights are dedicated exclusively to lighting the screen itself. The other three lights are used to light your subject.

The Best Lights for Your Green Screen

Flat even lighting is the goal when lighting a green screen. Any variation in brightness will make it harder for your editing software to remove the background while preserving edge details. In a home office video studio, space is usually at a premium, so you can afford to use big soft boxes or place lights far away from the screen. The easiest way to get good results is to use fluorescent or LED bank lights.

A bank light is nothing more than a large flat (usually rectangular) light fixture. Professional versions just look like fancy fluorescent shop lights turned sideways. In fact, you can make your own from inexpensive parts purchased at your local home center. There are a few things to watch out for when making your own. But once you know what to buy, it is easy to do.

LED bank lights are more expensive to purchase, but they last forever, have no glass tube to break, and can usually be dimmed to dial-in the perfect amount of light.

Placing The Lights

Lighting your screen with bank lights is easy. You place one light on each side of the screen. The lights should be oriented vertically so that the light shines out evenly from top to bottom. Adjust the angle and distance from the screen until the entire surface of your green screen is lit at an even level of brightness.

Once your screen is properly lit, you can use the other three lights that came with your kit to light your subject. Make a few critical tweaks to your camera settings and you will quickly be shooting amazing green screen video to share with the world.

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What Equipment Do You Need to Launch a Model Rocket?

When you see the advertisements for model rockets, it’s easy to overlook the fact that you need to buy launch equipment as well. In fact, terms like “ready to fly rockets” and “almost ready to fly rockets” are actually quite misleading, because you can’t fly them unless you also purchase a launch system and some consumables.

That, of course, can lead to a lot of disappointment on a Birthday or at Christmas and it’s a common mistake that many people make. The extra equipment and the consumables needed to launch a model rocket are not excessively expensive, but it is frustrating if you didn’t know that you needed them.

So, if you are thinking of buying someone a model rocket kit for a gift, here are the additional pieces of equipment and consumables that they will need to be able to fly their rocket and that are not usually included as a part of a standard kit.

Launch Pad

The launch pad is a part of what is known as the launch system and it is a relatively simple piece of equipment that provides a stable base from which to launch a model rocket. A launch pad will cost you in the region of $15-$20 and it is reusable.

Launch Controller

The launch controller is the other element of what is known as the launch system and it is a small, hand-held electronic device that heats up the rocket igniter which, in turn, ignites the rocket engine. Launch controllers cost in the region of $20.

Rocket Engines

You will usually have to purchase the engines, or motors, for you model rocket separately too. Rocket engines come in a large variety of different sizes, so it is important that you check what type of engine is recommended for the rocket that you have bought. Rocket engines vary in price, but most start at around $10 for a pack of three.

Rocket Igniters

Rocket igniters, which are sometimes called rocket starters, are what are used to ignite the rocket engine. These are consumables, so they are not usually included with a model rocket kit. A packet of 6 Estes rocket starters will cost approximately $5.

Recovery Wadding

Recovery wadding is another consumable that you will need to launch a model rocket. Recovery wadding is made of a flame retardant material and it is used to protect the recovery system, which is usually a parachute, from the heat of the ejection charge. Recovery wadding is an essential consumable, but it only costs about $5.

Modelling supplies and tools

Depending on the type of model rocket that you buy, you may need some sundry modelling supplies, such as sandpaper, wood glue and plastic cement, as well as some basic modelling tools.

Model rocket kits are classified by skill levels; ready to fly, almost ready to fly, easy to assemble, and skill levels 1 through 5.

Ready to fly models need virtually no assembly and no additional modelling supplies will be needed. A level 5 model rocket, on the other hand, could take months to construct and you would need tools, paint, and other consumables to complete the project.

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