Q: How should I rig the screens?

Q: How can I learn more about compositing?

Q: Is there anything I can do to prolong the life of my screen?

Q: How can I clean the screen?

Q: What if a rental screen gets dirty?

Q: What is traveling matte?

Q: What is “chromakey”?

Q: What is Digital Green®?

Q: What is chroma green ?

Q: Is green screen rental possible with your company?

Q: Do your materials work for “virtual sets”?

Q: Do you supply “digital backgrounds”?

Q: Can your screens be used under water?

Q: How should I light a 9' x 9'-12' screen

Q: How should I rig the screens? A: Here's a brief description of rigging a small screen using a SpeedRail® frame. There are additional images available in the Products Section showing overlapped screens and several styles of frames as well as a close-up of our ties. Small screens can be provided with a pipe pocket on one side so that a pipe inserted in the pocket can be suspended between two C-Stands. Larger screens may require heavier-duty frames like the "rock-n-roll" truss.

Q: How can I learn more about compositing? A: Check out the many excellent resources in our Links section. For in depth instruction on compositing consider taking Jeff Foster's "Green Screen Production Master Class" online.

Q: Is there anything I can do to prolong the life of my screen? A: If you are using the screen in a "limbo" shot where your subjects are standing on it, you should protect the screen from the floor by using industrial carpet, craft paper or a clean tarp on the floor or making sure the floor or carpet is quite clean before you lay the screen down. You should then provide carpet around the perimeter of the screen and ensure that your subjects wipe their feet on it before they walk on the screen. Try to keep unnecessary liquids like soft drinks and cleaning agents away from the screen. Acidic substances can cause orange stains on Digital Green® screens that will not wash out. Most other dirt is washable - see the instructions below. The screen should also be protected from excessive unnecessary light, especially direct sunlight and HMI, as these will in time cause a desaturation of the brilliance of the color. Therefore save lights on the screen whenever possible. In a daylight shoot in direct sunlight, provide for a cover such as muslin to be placed over the screen when you're not actually shooting. [RETURN TO TOP]

Q: How can I clean the screen? A: The screens are washable, either at home or at a commercial laundry. The basic steps in cleaning the screen are:

  1. remove the ties
  2. treat any significant stains
  3. wash the screens in cold water using Woolite® and fabric softener
  4. dry the screen in a dryer on low heat
  5. reattach the ties

You can also use a non-bleach stain treatment on heavy stains. We've found a terrific stain remover called "Kids'N'Pets" from Paramount Chemical Specialties, Inc. that removes most stains almost magically without damaging the screen - you may be able to find it at Target or Walmart locally, but you can also order from their website or from Amazon. A similar product is LA's Totally Awesome cleaner and degreaser which we find at our local 99 Cents Only store or online. We spray it directly onto any stained areas of the screen, and then let it sit for a couple of hours before laundering. (If you have another favorite product, before using it extensively, please test it on a corner of the screen to make sure it doesn't remove the color along with the stain.) The next step depends upon the size of the screen. If the screen is under 20 pounds (about 200 square feet) and you have a large home washer, or a laundromat with large clean machines, you can probably wash it yourself. If the screen is larger, find a commercial laundry with a large capacity washer, and a willingness to launder the screen in cold water with mild soap. In either case, wash the screen in cool water with Woolite®. Use fabric softener in the rinse water to avoid static electricity in the cleaned screen, and dry it in the dryer on low heat. (If you throw a couple of clean tennis balls in the dryer with the screen, the balls will keep the screen from tangling in the dryer, and it will dry more evenly and quickly.) If the screen is still damp when you've done your best to dry it in a dryer, just drape it over a clean surface (not in direct sunlight, of course) until it's completely dry. When the screen is dry, reattach the ties at approximately 8 to 9 inch intervals around the edges of the screen, and you're ready for the next shot. [RETURN TO TOP]

Q: What if a rental screen gets dirty? A: If the stained screen is a rental, we'll clean it when we get it back. Charges are related to the weight of the screen and simply cover the laundry expense unless the damage is permanent. If you know you re going to be using a rental screen in an unclean environment, let us know ahead of time - we have older screens that are still usable and will cost less to repair or replace if damaged. [RETURN TO TOP]

Q: What is traveling matte? A: Traveling matte is a motion picture term of art referring to a matte that moves, or travels, from frame to frame as distinct from a hard matte that remains stationary. [RETURN TO TOP]

Q: What is “chromakey”? A: Chromakey, historically a video term of art, refers to a matte derived from a specific primary color, i.e. green, to provide a traveling matte for composite imagery. The terms are not exactly synonymous since a traveling matte may be derived by a variety of techniques, e.g. rotoscoping. [RETURN TO TOP]

Q: What is Digital Green®? A: Digital Green® is a registered trademark of Composite Components and refers to a color difference matte background, one of the Digital Series™ of matte backings, exhibiting the very specific color co-ordinates and luminance values required for superior composite imagery and as specified in the patents associated with it. [RETURN TO TOP]

Q: What is chroma green? A: Chroma green is simply a generic term for a green matte backing or process. It doesn’t designate any particular chromatic values beyond basic green color which includes a huge variety of hues. [RETURN TO TOP]

Q: Is green screen rental possible with your company? A: Yes, our superior quality green screens are available for rent or purchase. [RETURN TO TOP]

Q: Do your materials work for “virtual sets”? A: Virtual set technology was central to the design of the Digital Series™ backings. Virtual set technique particularly requires the ability to hold, or “carry” shadows from the original photography into the composite image. The Digital Series™ backing luminace provides excellent “quiet” reproduction of shadows. [RETURN TO TOP]

Q: Do you supply “digital backgrounds”? A: While we do supply the greenscreens, the term “digital backgrounds” refers to the actual scenic images composited via color difference matting, so, no, we don’t supply such images. [RETURN TO TOP]

Q: Can your screens be used under water? A: Yes, our screens worked underwater in Water World, U-571, Sphere and others. Both screens and painted backings worked in The Guardian. If you plan to shoot underwater, please give us a call to discuss the requirements for handling our screens. Even more importantly, be sure to hire an experienced underwater crew! See the references below. Here are a couple of reactions from VFX Supervisors with good credentials in this area, along with contact details for their recommended underwater specialists:

VFX Supervisor Jeff Okun: Jeff says, "Pete Romano is my favorite underwater guy! As you and Jon are my favorite matte and screen specialists!" HydroFlex, Inc. - Pete Romano 301 E. El Segundo Blvd. El Segundo, CA 90245 Phone: (310) 301-8187 Fax: (310) 821-9886 Web: www.hydroflex.com Email: H2Opros@hydroflex.com

(Jeff has also done extensive underwater work - CutThroat Island, Deep Blue Sea, Sphere and Red Planet - and is willing to take questions - call us for his contact info.)

Q: How should I light a 9' x 9'-12' screen A: For your small screen, you'll need to light the screen and the actor with the same even, white light, (either Daylight balance or Tungsten) that will light the subject.  One way is to place ‘soft boxes’ on either side of the screen, between the subject and the screen. This provides illumination both to the screen and to the back and sides of the subject. This back and side light is very important and often neglected. It provides the illumination that would have been provided by the background scene, or plate, as the matting process will render the green screen as black.  Then light your foreground subject with both ‘fill’ and ‘key’ light, but with the appropriate ambiance of the composite scene.  

Very rough sketch -

Screen =============================================

Soft                                                                                                 Soft
Box                                                                                                  Box


   Fill Light                                                                               Key Light