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Tutorial: How to Design a Greenscreen Environment for Office Shoots

Recently I had to shoot two greenscreen intros for some screencam tutorials, and it took three hours to produce them. So, just to have ammunition for higher fees next time, I figured I would detail the gear I had to set up and configure to get the job done.

Lighting the Greenscreen

Optimally, you light thegreen screen separately from the subject, and I have a set of cheap compact fluorescent softboxes for that chore. Specifically, I bought the fancier Studio 3000 Watt Lighting Kit With 3 Stands and 3 softbox Lighting Kit for about $160, primarily because it came with three lights, one with a boom to serve as a hair light. The two lights were perfect for lighting the greenscreen, but the hair light was too unfocused and created highlights on my forehead, so I didn't use it. A good backlight really needs a focusable element, whether a lens, barn door or egg crate, to avoid that problem. Still, for $160, I marvelled at how cheap and effective lighting has become.

I positioned both lights about head level on the background, trying to produce even lighting on the portion of the screen that showed behind me in the shot. In the small setup shown in Figure 3 (below), these four-bulb lights worked perfectly.

Lighting setup

Figure 3. The four-bulb light setup

You need separate lights for the subject, and for this I used some ePhoto softboxes that I've had for awhile, specifically, the ePhoto VL9026s 2000 Watt Lighting Studio Portrait Kit, which now costs $167 on Amazon (Figure 4, below) . I’ve had these for just under two years, and they provide lots of cheap, undirected light, which is perfect for office shoots like this one. You don’t have the control for moody, nuanced lighting, but for flat or slightly shadowed lighting, they're ideal. Both sets of lights are daylight balanced, so I didn't have to put shades on my windows.

ePhoto softboxes

Figure 4. The ePhoto softboxes

If you look at Figure 1, you can see that I've positioned these lights slightly above my head pointing towards my face, both about 45 degrees from my nose, with one light using 3 bulbs, the other 5 to create a slightly shadowed look to model the face. You can see that in the final video below.