Digital Media Design


Green Screen – A Midsummer Nights Dream

Green Screen set-up for A Midummer Nights Dream

Green Screen set-up for A Midummer Nights Dream

Camera Settings and Filming

Filming and assisting with a AUCB MA Students Theatre Project that combines live acting and interaction with projected images for a production of Shakespeare’s a Midsummer Nights Dream using VJ’ing software (Modul8).

I used my personal DSLR – Canon EOS 60D to film each of the actors in front of a typical Green Screen set-up. We used 5 light sources – 2 to illuminate the green screen background, 2 as fill lights either side of the actors and the keylight level with the camera and facing the actor.

Canon EOS 60D DSLR

Canon EOS 60D DSLR

The Camera was set to video in full HD, each movie clip was 1920 x 1080p and in the Quicktime .MOV format.

I used an external Rode directional microphone to record the actors voices, positioning

Close up of the Canon EOS 60D screen

Close up of the Canon EOS 60D screen

the microphone on the hot shoe of the camera and recording directly onto the video track through the connector on the side of the Camera, thus avoiding  synchronisation problems in post production. However although the microphone should have been directional it did appear to pick up sound from behind the camera, although this could be due entirely to the acoustics of the studio. In retrospect it would have been better to have located the microphone on a boom closer to the actor.

Post Production

Moving onto editing and using After effects I keyed out the green background and masked the sides and top of the footage leaving just the actor in shot, thus preparing the sequence for a new background. I did this for each of the movie clips a total of 30+ which included some clips which were borderline but worth doing just in case we needed extra footage, or for cutaways etc. (Never discard anything is my personal motto).

Canon EOS 60D used for HD Movie Clips
and Mobile Phone Sony Ericsson W995 for photographs

The rest of the team will now continue with post production using After Effects to produce a complete sequence of clips that will be imported into VJ’ing software ready to be used for the live performance. Meanwhile I went  onto helping with the theatre set-up and to test the installation on stage according to the MA Students staging and design.

Canon EOS 60D in silhouette

Canon EOS 60D in silhouette

Just for fun and to prove the Green Screen set-up had worked effectively I produced my own short video from two of the many movie clips to which I added a suitable background and some copyright free soundtrack and uploaded this to YouTube – see below. Of course this is out of context there is no magic carpet scene in Shakespeare’s Midsummers Nights Dream (maybe there should be?)


Part 2 of this project Ophelia


Short Form Video – Student Filmmakers the Montage Edit Green Screen

Wednesday 16th March 2011

Tramps Best Day – 2nd Edit

Following Tuesdays filming of the Tramp character sitting on the bench dozing against a Blue Screen (instead of the usual green screen) thoughts turned to how we as a group of student filmmakers were going to edit the 5 minute film sequence down to a sequence just 2 minutes long.

I wondered if it could be possible to include the entire 5 minute sequence by using split screen and dividing the footage up. By giving each partition a different start time in this way we could include the green screen, that is the green screen footage as well as the all the live footage and keep the sequence to be just 2 minutes long but all of the scenes would be on screen.

The only way to test this would be to do an edit and see how it would look. The result is below and to be honest I do not think it works but let me know what you think.

Tramps Best Day – Test Edit 2

Tramps best Day – 3rd edit

This is my latest edit of the Tramp footage this time I’ve set myself the target of a total duration of 2 minutes and the sequence must start with an image of the Bus Stop and must end with a close up of a bikes wheel and include the green screen footage even though we were to discard this in the final edit.

Due to the benefit of having already captured my footage and previous editing attempts it was relatively simple to identify what to include and exclude from the video. In the end I removed the Aviary scene and most of the footage showing the Tramps character pushing the bike from scene to scene. By doing this I had achieved an edit of 1 minute 50 seconds which meant I could go back and look at some of the clips and see if if by adding some footage back would improve the overall composition or assist in the narrative.

Although the final video fits the brief I have to conclude that I prefer the split screen or montage of the 2nd edit.

Tramps Best Day – 2 minute edit

My suggestion for the final sequence.

I think it would improve the final result if we considered the following:-

  1. Drop the Green Screen sequence of the Tramp day dreaming on the bench – it just does not add anything to the video.
  2. Use the Montage/Split Screen design but with a couple of changes:-
  3. First change start the video with a full screen image of the Bus Stop and then scale this down and push it into the top left region of the screen.
  4. 2nd change End the video with a full screen image of the bikes wheel by scaling up the image from the bottom right region of the screen.
  5. So the top left image runs from the start for 2 minutes and say the bottom right starts 2 minutes from the end.
  6. The other 2 regions on the screen should start from a different scene.
  7. Overall the whole footage should be shown somewhere be it in region 1,2,3 or 4.
  8. Use the soundtrack from the Montage edit – it works really well.
4 Screen Montage with Bus Stop and Wheel ending added

What do I think? well it works but it needs some finishing touches for example the scaling of the Bus Stop opening needs to be speeded up. The actual screen divides are too regular and would be improved my making none of the videos the same size. The final sequence of the cycle wheel needs to be re-shot as a new sequence with the final image showing the wheel completely and directly facing the camera full framed.

Of course these are my thoughts and the final edit will come down to what the group decides and of course the director should have the final say. Although in the real world it’s usually the Producers decision usually after test screenings in front of an invited audience.


Short Form Video – Green Screen, scale/perspective and locations

Saturday 26th February 2011

Tramp Short Form Video

Scale and Perspective

Using the green screen video footage shot on Wednesday and additional video footage which I shot using my Canon EOS 60D DSLR. I began experimenting with positions, the scale and perspectives for the live footage and the video footage which would form part of the dream sequence.

Group discussions in conjunction with a meeting with Tony the idea was put forward to make the video image behind the live footage of the Tramp on the bench to be oversize, dominating the screen.

I thought it would be a good idea to see how this would look so I set up my camera at home and wearing the revised costume I acted through the drinking idea we’d had.

We’ve yet to decide on the final look of the dream footage whether it’s going to be in colour, black and white or other effects but for this test I just used ‘Threshold’ (Premiere Pro) to separate the live footage from the dream.

I’m quite pleased with the overall look of the footage but I am now thinking that it will be hard to show all the ideas that we have had for the dream sequence in just 2 minutes and I’m thinking we should just show one or two ideas and do these very well rather than do four or more but do them badly.

Also I think we should given the opportunity shoot more footage than is required say an additional 4 or more minutes so that we have enough for a short film of 6 minutes duration and cherry pick from this footage for the 2 minute version required for the overall project.


I storyboarded the short dream sequence but as you can see in the final edit, changes were made to the scale and position of the background images


A useful tool for rapidly identifying locations for filming is Google’s Street View. This allows you to view locations across the whole of the UK and indeed the World although as the name suggests only if there is a street and one which Google’s camera car has filmed.

I used it to view a number of locations in the Charminster area which will need to be followed up by an actual visit but they appear to be good possibilities for filming the Tramps dream sequence.


Short Form Video – Actor Makeup

Actor Makeup

24th February 2011

The Reluctant Actor Makeup

Following on from Tuesdays Blue Screen tests the Group re-set on Wednesday for a full screen test and for this I had to get made up into my Tramps character.

This involved a session in make-up (Thanks to Mark) something I’ve not done before and probably do not want to do again (Please I don’t want to be an actor).

I used my Flip Ultra camera to film the make-up process which I then sped up and edited in Premiere Pro CS5.


Tramp & Homeless People Research

With cast and crew roles now set we the group know that I’m to play the Tramp. In anticipation of this I thought I’d better do some more research on characterisation by looking on YouTube for videos of Tramps and the Homeless, unfortunately it’s not a widely covered subject under that title but I did source some examples.

I also (thanks to Euan) watched a film called the ROAD for ideas. Apart from the look of the main character I didn’t really get much inspiration from this movie.

The Road Movie Trailer

I then came across more examples using Homeless as my search keyword and in particular this one caught my eye because it’s just so interesting.

Images of Homeless people and cycles


Post Production Techniques – Green Screen and Tracking

Green Screen

Thursday 10th February 2011

Green Screen – Tracking with After Effects CS5

In reference to the previous Blog on green screen video, Fridays Tutorial included a run through of Tracking using After Effects. Basically this allows you to track the movements of an object or part of an object and then associate this movement to another object. Let me expand upon that statement for example I’ve tracked the movement of the subjects left hand in the video below and I’ve attached the movement of the hand to the image of the football.

Green Screen Tracking

Tracking can be found under the Animation menu heading. Selecting Track Motion brings up the Tracker TAB with all the options associated with Tracking. So to get started a motion source is selected from the drop down menu. The Track type in this case is Transform and the box for position has been ticked. Next select a Target from the edit target (this can be done later) and we are ready to analyse.

Now position the Target Symbol in the Viewer that’s the two boxes with the cross inside and position this onto the object you want to track which in this case is the hand. Click the universal symbol for play and this should automatically position the boxes onto the hand and track the hand as it moves around the screen. Unfortunately in my experience it doesn’t and quickly loses it’s position.

Stop the automatic analysis and then using the move forward or back single frame buttons re-position the boxes over the hand and so editing the tracking path. I had to do this manually for the whole sequence because the subjects hand flipped several times during the movement changing the light intensity and so the tracking could not follow it automatically.

With the Tracking analysis done I imported an image of a football which I set to enter from off screen and bounce towards the subject to the point where I had set my tracking path to start. I then went back to the tracking menus and edited the target to be the Football.

When I run the completed composition the ball enters from the left connects with the tracking path and then follows the hand movements and then finally exits the screen to the right at the end.


Post Production Techniques – A look at AE and Green Screen

Sunday 6th February 2011

After Effects – Green Screen and Tracking

Morning tutorial on After Effects, Green Screen video footage and background removal. I’m finally getting to grips with After Effects and can actually be confident with background removal using Keylight 2.1 a very handy plugin which seems to work much better than the other methods of background removal available in AE.

We also had a look at tracking which I will go into more on another Blog entry.

In the afternoon session we setup the Greene Screen and learnt the techniques for lighting the screen and a subject in front of the screen. Thanks to a an earlier exposure to green screen I knew most of this but the use of a light meter hadn’t come up before.

I shot the footage below using my Flip camera, it’s a bit shaky because there was no tripod available at the time but it’s good enough to get the idea of the setup. The second video clip is the same footage after the background was keyed out. I used Masks which I had to key to the movement as the subject moved. It’s not perfect because the subject moved out of the area of the green screen at some point and my camera position changed part way through, but on the whole for an improvised session it worked well enough.

Video before AE
Video after AE

Research – Hostage Film Title Sequence – Very Similar to Sin City?

I like the dark graphics with the coloured text the mix of black and colour. I might look at this for another title project if there is time as it looks like it might be interesting to do something similar.

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