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


Photography HDR Tutorial – My First Attempt at HDR

I thought I’d have a go at some HDR photography using my Canon EOS 60D DSLR. I already knew the basics of HDR which stands for ‘High Dynamic Range’ –  you need usually three photographs of the same subject, one at ‘Normal’ exposure, the second ‘Over Exposed’ and the third ‘Under Exposed’. Then you need some software to bring these images together to create your HDR image – for my purposes I used Adobe Photoshop CS5 which comes with the HDR plugin already installed.

Setting up the camera for HDR

Menu Settings AEB

AEB Settings +- 2 points

My Canon EOS 60D comes with an AV mode which allows you to set the Aperture and leaves the camera to decide on everything else such as shutter speed ISO etc. I wanted the maximum depth of field so I went for an exposure of f22. The next step is to go into the camera’s menu and select Exposure comp/AEB setting which sets the ‘Auto Exposure Bracketing’ this is what controls the exposure for the 3 photographs – I set mine for 2 stops which is 2 stops over exposed and 2 stops underexposed.

Now all I needed to do was to make some final settings for the camera, for example for the shots I was taking, I set for manual focus and I also turned off Image Stabilisation as I was using a tripod.

Taking the shot

Top LCD showing 3 exposure levels

You should really use a remote shutter release but I didn’t have one so I was careful not to move the camera when pushing the shutter button. I noticed that as I half pressed the shutter button the indicator on the top LCD of the camera showed which exposure setting it was going to take, central for normal exposure, high indicator for over exposed and low indicator for under exposed – this helped to keep track of where you were in the shot list, although you could just count up to three for each set of pictures taken.

I could have set the continuous high mode but left it on single shot for personal preferences but if you want to take your 3 exposures rapidly or you are using your camera handheld you should set to continuous high mode.

Photography HDR Tutorial – Photoshop

Back LCD also showing 3 exposure settings

The first job is to open all three images in Photoshop then select File-Automate-merge to HDR Pro or just go straight to automate and select the images from the browse option. You then get a dialogue box open to enable you to select the images one of which is ‘Add open files’ which I selected. The HDR panel then opens with the thumbnails of your photographs at the bottom of the screen and the combined image in the centre. You then have a choice of manually changing options such as Saturation, Vibrancy, Exposure, Gamma etc. but I used the presets to select an image that I liked.

Canon EOS 60D
used for all photographs

Click OK at the bottom of the window and the merged image is shown in the main window ready for further manipulation using the standard Photoshop tools, such as image size and save for web etc.

I like the effect of HDR so much that I’ve also investigated several other plugins and stand alone applications for creating the HDR effect. One App in particular caught my interest, ‘HDR Darkroom’ which can be currently downloaded from the Apple App Store at a bargain price. I’ve posted one example I made using this App below well worth the £11.99 it cost me to download from the Apple App Store – currently on offer – 75% off the normal price.

Here’s the result  – what do you think?

NB: The Quality of image is far greater on my MacBook Pro than can be reproduced here because of web restriction eg. 72 pixel resolution.

Home Office HDR - Using HDR Darkroom

Home Office HDR - Using HDR Darkroom

Cycle HDR Photograph

HDR Photo-realistic preset - Photoshop HDR Plugin

Honda Civic HDR Photograph

HDR Saturated Preset - Photoshop HDR Plugin

Honda Civic - Photo realistic HDR preset

Honda Civic - Photo realistic HDR preset - Photoshop Plugin



Short Form Video – Web Landing Page

From a photograph taken with my Canon EOS 60D I used Photoshop and it’s HDR effect plugin to create the image. To this I added a mix of 2 Grunge type backgrounds and some text to create a background for a Web Landing Page.

In my next post I’ll describe how to create the HTML page and then embed the YouTube video so that the Video can be played on the Film Trailer styled page rather than just providing a link to the video on YouTube.

Tramp Film - Trailer and Web Landing Page mockup

Tramp Film – Trailer and Web Landing Page mockup




Interesting Art using paper and photograph's using HDR


Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography

Friday 22nd October 2010

Exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum London – Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography

As part of Fridays University organised field trip we also visited the V&A to view the above exhibition.
As the title suggests this exhibition is about images/photographs produced without the use of a stills camera but instead produced directly onto the photographic paper an by either using chemicals or controlling the light to produce an image, a silhouette or as the title suggests a shadow directly onto the photographic paper.

For copyright reasons I’m unable to post any photographs taken at the exhibition but the following link to the V&A website shows images taken from the exhibition.

Also whilst attending the exhibition I had the opportunity to view other artefacts of personal interest – Stained Glass Windows of which I took the following pictures. What attracts me to these is their colours. It could also be said that these are examples of the first images on glass – forerunners even to photographic plates and of course then slides and followed in turn by film.


Eadweard Muybridge at the Tate

Friday 22nd October 2010

A University organised visit to an exhibition at the Tate Britain.

Eadweard Muybridge – Tate Britain

An innovator and pioneer in photographic technology in particular for his work in stop motion and his images of horses which he used to prove that there is a point when a horse is running that all four hooves are in fact not in contact with the ground.
At the exhibition there where many examples of this work experimenting with the use of stop motion photography to record and analyse the movements of animals and humans against a measurable background – black with graph like lines.
Muybridge was also celebrated for his landscape pictures of San Francisco during a period of construction and the National Park Yosemite.
The taking of pictures in this exhibition was discourage and therefore I am unable to post them into my blog but I did take a short video of students passing in front of a depiction of the background that Muybridge used to position his subjects in front of when conducting his motion capture experiments.

Although the exhibition was interesting I felt it would could have been improved upon if there had been a demonstration of the stop motion process or a modern interpretation of Muybridge’s experiments.

For more details of the exhibition please follow the link below to the Tate Britains website.

Additional Resources
Warrell. I and Locatelli. C: Tate Exhibition Guide 2010.

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