I am a long time user of Digital Darkroom, a software program for photographers. Although it can do many things, I especially use it for greenscreen/chromakey photography at events.
In their upcoming newsletter, I am featured as one of three photographers selected for their expertise in this area, which I consider quite an honor. The article can be seen at http://darkroomsoftware.com/tt_photographer_greenscreen.html
Greenscreen has become a lot more common since we first started doing it. For those who aren’t familiar, think of the weather forecaster – they appear to be in front of a weather map, but are really only standing in front of a green (sometimes blue) screen. Chromakey technology replaces the solid color with a graphic of their choice. We do something very similar, but with high resolution photos, so people who come to one of our parties get to interact with the image in the background. For instance, I recently did an event for a major cable studio where we made it look like guests were part of the set of one of their productions hanging out with the stars.
We have a lot of experience doing greenscreen and make it look easy, but there is actually a lot going on and we’ve refined our process over years to create a system that is both fast moving and creates high quality output. Earlier this year, one of my repeat clients and I were chatting and they told me how they went to an event in another city where there was a green screen. He said that although the basic idea was the same, the quality of the images produced and the fun that guests were having was nothing like as good as our events. I think it gave them an extra appreciation for what we do and how hard we work to make events fun and successful.
Last month I was hired to do green screen for a major insurance company at a trade show like event in Washington D.C. in conjunction with the opening of the MLK Memorial there. As it turned out there was another green screen setup at the same event being done by a major airline. Although they had a very fancy booth for their photos – it resembled the fuselage of an aircraft – their pictures were of poor quality. When I looked at what they were doing, the type of lighting they used was what I would expect a rank amateur to employ.
At least one manufacturer is now making low cost “complete green screen kits” with screens, lights, software, etc. Just add your own camera and printer. I was curious, so I purchased one to try out. If you’re looking for some fun for a small party and don’t care about the quality of the images, then this might be okay. However, there were a number of problems with the kit that would make it totally unsuitable for the types of parties we do. For starters, the lights are cheap, “constant lights” essentially high output regular light bulbs. The light produced is way too weak and uneven to get a good chromakey effect, especially with more than one subject in an image. Also the software is very limited and would be unable to handle the sophistication or volume of images expected by my clients. I ended up returning the kit.
When we first started doing greenscreen, we used a number of bits and pieces of hardware and software that we cobbled together to produce something like 80 prints in a four hour party. The client was delighted! Fast forward a few years and more recently we did an event where we produced more than 550 prints in the same four hour period from a single setup!
It is nice that we’re being recognized for our expertise and producing quality results. It is also fun to be doing different types of events, but no matter who the client is or what type of event they are having, our goal remains the same – help guests have lots of fun while we create unique, memorable images!