Friday, November 2, 2018

Fun with Green Screens, Part 2

Green screens are not as intimidating as you might think.  Here's the link to my original Green Screen article which I wrote for Cameracraft magazine, which also includes a link for the free Photoshop plug-in you can use to knock out the green easily and accurately, with no "green halo" like you would normally get by just doing a color selection and erasing it.

Green Screens plus a little Photoshop editing
can put your clients into their favorite TV shows!
(Click on any image to view larger.)

In this blog post I'm going to show you two examples - one easy and one slightly more advanced - of this green screen technique.  I know most of you aren't set up for green screens, but stick with me - I want to expand your mind a bit (plus I think you'll like the results).

For the first example, I used just two wireless flashes: One illuminating the green backdrop, and one on my subject.  So here we go, step by step:

First, start with a stock shot pulled from the internet.  Whoever did the lighting for this picture should be shot because Ron is in shadow.

Then, extend the sides to make room for more characters (thank goodness for Photoshop's Content-Aware Fill!)

Two wireless flashes: One on the left (softbox); one on the right (pointing at backdrop.)

This produces nice, simple light that matches the light on the characters.

Try to light your subjects similarly, then drop them in!

Not bad, no?

The 2nd example will be shown after a few announcements.

A Few Announcements

Fujifilm X-T3 ebook

Tony Phillips, the author of the X-T3 ebook, doesn't like to keep his readers waiting when a new camera comes out.  And so he created the Experts Rolling Release concept, where you can read parts of the book as soon as Tony finishes them.  It was popular with the X-H1 ebook and so he's doing it again here.  It's a great camera, and a great book!


The Colorado seminar from last month!
Last month's seminar in Colorado was a blast, and there's still time to sign up for the event in Scottsdale, Arizona Nov. 10-11th!  

If you're not familiar with the Friedman Archives Seminars, think of it as an antidote to the I-need-to-understand-every-feature-on-my-camera-otherwise-I-can't-possibly-take-great-pictures complex.  It's not true.  That part can come later after the secrets that nobody talks about anymore are intuitively demonstrated.  Right now we're planning seminars in Copenhagen and Las Vegas for 2019 - let me know if you'd like to be on the notification list (gary at friedman archives dot com).  If you know a photo club in your area tell them I'll speak to them for FREE in exchange for them helping me promote a seminar near you!  

And if you just can't wait for a seminar to come to you, don't forget there's the Streaming Version which you can enjoy in the comfort of your home.

Help Me Do Good

My Vietnam project starts in just a few weeks, and I'm hoping you can support my work by making a modest donation - even USD $25 can be a big help!  


The next example is a bit more involved:
Same thing here, except the lighting was much more dramatic.

So we tried to match the lighting.  (See below.)
A total of 5 lights were used to recreate the lighting.  #3 was used to illuminate the backdrop; #1 was the key light, #2 was the hair light, #5 was the "kicker" for the right side of the face, and #4 (pointing to the white ceiling) was the overall fill light.  That white dot on the floor is where I told my subjects to stand.  Click on the image to see it larger.
Green removed using the free tool.  Then used the eraser tool to get rid of the residual artifacts.

Paste the character as a layer on top of the background.  As you can see things still don't match, making it look like an amateur Photoshop job.

Adjust the layer to reduce saturation, adjust curves and color to match other characters.  Voila!

Until next time,
Yours Truly, Gary Friedman


  1. Bonjour, I have not been able to download the Green Screen article, with link for the free Photoshop plug-in: I get an "Unable to open PDF" message.

  2. I've got a green screen kit that I bought for one of my daughter's school projects, but we never had time to use: I'll have to dig it out and have a play with it - thanks Gary!

  3. Oh and by the way - the title says, ”part 2”: I couldn't find part 1 - where is it, please (or is it a mistake in the title)?

    1. My apologies - the Camera Craft article was of course part 1

  4. Consider writing an update to this technique. Movie production has switched to grey screen. No green spill into subject and you only need Overlay mode for the adjustment layer. Grey is neutral and disappears in Overlay mode.

    1. A lot of folks doing compositing in photoshop forums don't use green screen either - they just use the smart selection / refine edges to select their subject. The software I talked about in the Cameracraft article eliminates green spill as well. Many different techniques. All roads lead to Rome.

  5. Link to "free" software goes to $199. version. Is the free version still available?

    1. Yes, there's a link to it in the Cameracraft article.


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