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Category: Being creative

How to Make a Green Screen For Your Video Productions

If you like making your own videos and want to add a professional or custom background, or if you want to add some cool special effects to your latest artistic film project, you can use the same technique film-makers and newsrooms have been using for decades! Without blowing your entire budget for your project, you can easily and quickly create your own green screen for home video projects!

Choose a Color

While the traditional “green screen” is actually green, you can create your green screen to be almost any color you want it to be. You’ll want to choose a shade that’s not too dark but not too light – somewhere on the lighter side of the middle is usually best. And you need a shade that you’re not likely to be wearing or that’s a part of your facial features. This usually rules out red, yellow, and brown.

Fabric or Paint?

Most traditional green screens are created using a specific fabric stretched along a frame. You can create a frame at home using PVC or pipes, but it can be challenging to get the fabric stretched correctly and to ensure that the lighting is correct. Draped fabric doesn’t work well for a green screen, as the variations in shade and tone can prevent the computer from reading the color correctly. If you’re going to be using the same spot to record, you may want to consider using paint for a green screen.

Painting

If you’re fortunate enough to have your own home-based recording studio, you can generally just paint the wall with your green screen color. Chromakey Green paint by Tube Tape has the precise shade and finish of green that most professional green screens use. If you’re using another color, look for a matte finish. If your walls are textured, you’ll need to remove the texture from the walls before painting.

If you live in an apartment or you want a painted backdrop that’s portable, you can find a large sheet of plywood or MDF at your local home improvements store. For invisible hanging, you can install picture hanging wire on the back of your plywood. A thin sheet of MDF may be able to hang to a specific spot with 3M fasteners, but it’s more likely to break if it’s moved regularly.

Fabric

A frame for your fabric can be easily created using PVC tubing or metal pipes, along with plumbing fasteners. Measure the height and width you need, and use those measurements to have your pipes cut to the appropriate length. The bottom piece can be attached with T-joints, and the top bar can be attached with elbow joints. You’ll probably also need to make a base with additional pipe and T-joints. The fabric should be cut to size with reinforced metal grommets at regular intervals about 1/2 inch from the edge of the fabric. You’ll attach the fabric to the frame using clothesline, parachute cord, or even elasticized bungee cords.

A thin fabric may present problems for a green screen. If the lighting on the front of the fabric is too bright, the fabric may reveal shadows and other items hidden behind the screen. This can be minimized by creating a double layer of fabric or by using a thicker and heavier fabric. Depending on how you secure the frame and the fabric, this design may be able to be easily disassembled and transported if you need a portable green screen.

How To Do Your Own Stop Motion Animation

Those of us from a more mature generation might remember Gumby cartoons, and although claymation has fallen from favor in the movie studios, stop motion animation techniques are still used. These days, stop motion animation is a labor of love and a niche art form.

Planning

The first step in making your own stop motion animation is to plan your project. You can have anywhere from 20-60 frames per second, but it’s best to have at least 24 frames. This means that every second of animation will require about 24 image frames. Because it can be difficult to synchronize multiple elements, beginners will want to stick to a single animated element. While clay is a traditional medium for stop motion animation, lego figurines, dolls, toys, or puppets can often be easier to use and manipulate.

Stop motion animation is often used for whiteboard or blackboard animations. The whiteboard forms the background, and the illustrator draws on the whiteboard slowly and takes pictures after each small change. This creates the illusion that the art on the whiteboard is being animated in real-time, when it’s actually only a small change to the screen with each shot.

Setting up the Background

The best backgrounds for stop motion animation are relatively simple. Backgrounds that are busy can be visually distracting. Because you will be moving your primary piece during the scene, it’s best to make sure that backgrounds are sturdy and not movable; miniature pieces can be accidentally knocked over during adjustments. You’ll want to set up the lighting for your shots in a way that it won’t be moved. Because it can take so long to shoot even a short film with stop motion, you need to rely on artificial lighting rather than natural light.

Setting the Scene

To begin with, set your elements in place and take a photo. Make a slight adjustment and then take another photo. Keep making small adjustments and taking photos until you have your entire scene completed or until your camera runs out of memory. Download your photos to the computer when your memory is full and then start again.

Running Animation

You can actually import your images into Windows Movie Maker to create a stop motion animation short, but there are other programs that make it easier to produce a professional-quality short film, including iMovie, Virtual Dub, and Adobe Premiere.

Refining your Technique

Your first stop motion animation project will probably be a very short film with simple techniques and animation, but you shouldn’t let a slow start disappoint you! You can join online forums and communities filled with stop motion animation experts, share your beginning projects to a supportive audience, and learn new skills and ideas to help you with your projects in the future. Watching other stop motion films and short flicks can help give you new inspiration and get your creative juices flowing, so it’s a good idea to enjoy the work of others as you learn to do bigger and better projects yourself.

Keep in mind that this is a hobby that takes a lot of time. So, get yourself a comfortable chair, move a good travel coffee maker to your workspace and be ready to put in the time. And before you know it, you’ll be out of coffee but with a complete little stop motion movie.