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Green Screening


Last year my kids and I experimented with green screening.  The kids walked into an image of the Newsies and interacted with the scene.  It was pretty cool and I knew I had to keep experimenting.  When we entered a video into the Acer Classroom Makeover contest we decided to experiment more with our little green screen.

While we were doing green screening we really had no idea what we were doing or how to do it properly but just knew it was pretty cool, and incredibly motivating.  The one problem with green screening or using any of our equipment is the set-up.  There was no spontaneous use of it.  Over the years I have written and received several small grants and have had some equipment donated that allows us to do some serious audio recording.  Because it was all stored in locked drawers it was only used for special occasions when we could take the time to set everything up and leave it out for a few days.  My dream was to always have a place to set it up so that it could be used at any second.

There was an abandoned class on my floor that we received permission to renovate.  With a little additional funding from the school, we were able to buy 2 big green screens to have a 20’x20′ green screen, some lights, and a quality microphone.  Scraping together everything I had along with more donations from the parents we were able to build a “recording studio.”  It has been dubbed “3 Floors Up.”  We made a website for it here.   And of course a promo video:

It has been a soft opening for the room since it opened and was finished so close to the end of the year.  We have only used it for one project which did not require green screening, but the room provided us with a quiet place and a plain background. My class has a blower that is constantly going so it is never quiet and always is in the background of anything we do so it is nice to actually have something that is close to silence. In the video below the background was the green screen.

A Civil War Letter from Moran Mustangs on Vimeo.
 

Now that we have messed around with some green screening and I have done some research, there are some very simple tips.

  • Keep the students 6 feet away from the green screen when filming.
  • Light the green screen!  It will make the wrinkles disappear.
  • If you have those classic rows of school fluorescent light banks, set up your screen so that they are at a 90 degree angle to the green screen.  There are exceptions to the rule, but for the set-up at most schools it works.
  • Turn off your cameras auto-focus, set it to be focused on the talent, place a taped X on the ground and done.  With auto focus on the focus can bounce back and forth from talent to screen unless you know what you are doing or have an expensive camera
  • Google how to green screen and watch some videos, they will save you hours and years of frustrating results.

If you have examples or tips please leave them in the comments.  This was not meant to be an instructional post, just one to put some ideas in your head!

4 comments

  1. Love the idea! I am glad they let you expand your area for “outside the box” creativity. Your students are very lucky. I hope they use what they learned when they hit high school and beyond

  2. Would you mind listing the equipment you use. Especially the mics. I’m in a similar situation as you. I have money coming my way and I want to build a studio! Any tips on equipment or setting up a studio?

  3. Paul,
    Have you tried the Green Screen iPad App by DoInk? We used it for the first time this year with green shower curtains draped over white boards but sometimes the students would show part of the wall or bulletin boards on the other side of the green screen, planning to cover those with green paper next year. How do you mic students? Any suggestions on microphones for iPad? Which lights worked best? My library is pretty dark and I do need to get some lighting. Thanks for the tips!

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