First developed in the 1930's, Chroma Key Compositing is a technique for placing two images together where a color from one image is removed revealing the second image behind it making the two appear as one. Also referred to as Green Screen, TV and Film production companies around the world rely heavily on the use of this groundbreaking technology, but it does not come without its challenges. Needing to create a definitive difference between the subject and the green background while effectively matching the color temperature of the new projected background, lighting designers everywhere have been searching for a reliable solution and Neal Williams at Par Fore Productions has found one; the Studio RevEAL from Prism Projection.
“I first heard of the Studio RevEAL fixtures while we were doing work with Access Hollywood on their Red Carpet,” began Williams. “One day I saw that they had rented a few Studio RevEAL fixtures so we asked David Crookham at Prism Projection to bring one down to our shop to check it out. We set up a Studio RevEAL next to an 800 HMI, and for all the ratios involved; the power, the cost, the amount of diversity it offers; this was simply a better light.”
As a 20-year veteran of the TV/Film lighting industry, Williams and his team at Par Fore Productions shoot commercials, behind the scenes, and promos for all the studios and networks. In the digital world, Green Screen has become a popular technique because digital cameras retain more detail in the green channel and it requires less light, but the biggest challenge when setting up a Green Screen is smooth and even lighting with the avoidance of any shadows. It is best to have the most narrow color range possible in order to get a definitive separation between the subject and the screen.
“Our work with Green Screen was definitely the driving force behind our purchase of the Studio RevEAL fixtures. When doing Green Screen it's crucial to have the ability to adjust the intensity and color range on site. The RevEAL Studio fixtures give us all that with a 20-70 degree beam focus that spreads beautifully. All the controls for this are right on the back of the light as well as accessible through a DMX board. Adjustments are quick and easy. I've been telling everyone I know to look at these lights for Green Screen because they are a great option.”
Another common challenge in lighting for Green Screen is making sure that the subject being lit is actually lit complementary to the scene that will be placed in the background. Designers must match both the direction of light and the color temperature in the new background so that the two images flow seamlessly together.
“Not only can you dial-in the color range and intensity for the talent you are shooting, you can also find out what the new background color temperature will be and then you can replicate it so that the temperature on the talent matches what is going to be keyed on screen”.
With Studio RevEAL fixtures helping Par Fore Productions overcome the actual lighting challenges pertaining to Green Screen, they also found that the fixtures gave them another advantage when on location. With the RevEAL Studio lights, Williams and his team are now able to travel with less gear and use less power.
“When we were doing a CBS “Big Brother” promo shoot at the Sheraton Universal, the technicians at the hotel asked if we would be bringing in a generator to power our lights. When I said â€˜no' because we could use six RevEAL Fixtures for complete coverage due to their zoom range, and we could also run all the lights on only two circuits, the techs were quite surprised. This was really an unexpected but great thing for us. While we also do big production shoots with gaffers and grips on set, a lot of times these Green Screen promos are smaller shoots. So instead of bringing a truck to support a larger amount of lights, cable and power distribution, we can come in with a smaller number of fixtures that use less power. Compared to the number of lights that we used to have to take with us, the Studio RevEAL fixtures have made it much easier on location shoots.
Another example of this would be when I scouted the location for a BET â€˜Behind the Lens' production, and I put on the outline that we would be using 10 Studio RevEAL fixtures. The Line Producer for the show was continually concerned that our power needs were not sufficient, but when I told them that the location already had plenty of house circuits and we would be fine for power, he was shocked. I got two separate e-mails asking if I was sure about the power. In the end, the client was thrilled.”
Working with studios and production companies such as Happy Madison Productions, Sony Pictures, Disney, Columbia Tri-Star, Buena Vista Pictures, DreamWorks, NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox Television; Williams and Par Fore Productions are counted upon time and time again to deliver quality product that will allow their clients to achieve the best shots possible. Understanding the dedication that it takes to make sure the gear supplied is of the highest quality, Williams is confident that both the Studio RevEAL fixtures and Prism Projection will be a mainstay on all their future Green Screen productions.
“I can't say enough about the Studio RevEAL fixtures and the support we receive from Prism Projection. Anytime we've had any questions, they have been in our shop to help out. I am very impressed with their support and service. I have been doing this for 20 years, working with a lot of high-profile production companies, and anytime we do a Green Screen with the Studio RevEAL people are blown away. They have a terrific beam spread that gives us an even key, a great punch on faces and you have so much control of the color temperature right on the back of the light; I am a big fan. There is a lot to be excited about in today's production technology, and this light is worth its praise.”