Necessity is the Mother of Invention – Using Green Screens to Shoot Corporate Video

On a sunny, mid-November morning after coffee and a snack Cameraman and I check four cases full of video equipment and accessories on a flight to Sudbury. We are booked for a shoot that afternoon with Air Liquide Canada (ALC). This year is the company’s centennial and they are gathering testimonials from workers and customers in various regions for a celebratory tribute video. They had asked us to shoot on green screen.

 

Green or blue screen allows you to fill in the background with the footage of your choice. You see it all the time on commercials and movies (even if you think you don’t). It is a clever technique that gives your video a clean, sharp look. Like the people who do the weather; they are standing in front of a green screen and the station puts in the maps, graphics, satellite images, etc. ALC might opt to fill in their video with tanks, pumps, trucks, valves, retailers, maybe some archival footage or photos to celebrate their milestone.

The screen itself is nothing fancy. If you do not have access to a studio equipped with one, you can hang a piece of fabric, (good, professional camera operators will own this in Chroma key green), steam out the wrinkles and voila, a simple, cost effective option. This was the plan for the ALC employees. We were going to hang the fabric in a meeting room in the hotel we were staying at and shoot the interviews in front of it.

We arrive in Sudbury with three cases, not four.

Now, to shoot on green screen, it is integral to have…the green screen.

In the cab on the way to the hotel we call the local CTV affiliate to see if we can borrow their weather studio for an hour. The manager is at lunch and the tech is unable to authorize anything. The cabbie suggests a photography store that could maybe help. Instead, we find a building for lease in a strip mall.

“Geeze, when did that close?” he asks himself, or us, I am not sure which.

Next stop, Fabricland. Cameraman holds up his Chroma key green tape but the woman behind the cash shakes her head before we even say anything. While they do not have the fabric, they do have signs suspended from the ceiling — bright green sheets of paper shouting out sales in block letters written with black marker.

“Where’d you get that paper?” Cameraman says.

“What, that?” the woman asks, “Staples.”

Our cabbie, Bob, we are now friendly with the driver, chauffeurs us to Staples. We buy out the nine remaining sheets of green Bristol board and tack it to the wall with the matching tape.

ALC looks good. We have a few laughs, they tell a few stories, and we leave the room how we found it.

On our way out to have dinner later that evening, the girl at reception says, “Oh hey, your case just arrived.”

I did a two camera green screen shoot for IBM a few years back, which you can see here. http://www.newswire.ca/en/extras/custom/video-services/ibm/. In this case, we filled in the green with…white. In the end, we had a classy video and a happy client.

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