Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Using a flat screen LCD television monitor as a blue screen device

This is a pretty good way to key out any type of item or product that you might want to animate with a graphic background without doing any rotoscoping (cutting out the item from each sequential frame of video footage). The only drawback is that it requires a high definition television monitor at least a little bigger than the product that will be shot and a dv cam. (Digital video camera/camcorder:) I have a 16:9 45" Panasonic 1080i monitor/tv and a Sony VX-2000 digital camcorder that I used in this example.

Here is a toy of Kaneda on his motorcycle from Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira.
The toy is manufactured by McFarlane toys.

Step 1: The first thing I had to figure out is how to get the monitor to show nothing but blue. I made a blue rectangle in CorelDRAW and used full screen preview to fill up every pixel line to show nothing but blue. You might have to get crafty if you don't own Corel Draw.

Step 2: While the digicam sits on a tripod, I positioned the toy about three feet from the HD monitor then zoomed in and focused the cam on the toy itself. The trick here is to soften up the blue using zoom and f-stop settings to "punch" out our subject a little more.

Here is the toy infront of the monitor.

I still use Adobe Premiere 6.0 to do blue screen keying... Believe it or not. It has a super easy panel with a realtime update to show the edges while tweaking threshold and other settings to control spill. You can use whatever keying software you're comfortable with though... Of course. I filmed a street in downtown Denver while driving (shhhhhhh) and composited the footage behind my subject. I ran a flashlight over the toy bike to create the illusion of movement and moved Kaneda's head with a pencil for added realism:}
Here is the final example.

I've got a more serious tutorial on how to do this with a clothing product coming in the near future... Look for it. Later!

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