Green Screen Done Right…

We’re initiating a Gallery on the site to use as a home for customer pictures of our products in action. A place where we can all learn from each other’s methods.

Our customer Doug Urquhart (, Atlanta GA) has two studio model CL-655s. As you may guess, the CL-655 is quite a light monster for output, but they aren’t being used for lighting the screen you see below. Here’s a great panoramic shot of his studio. You can see our CL-655s on stands at the sides of the screen. Click on the picture for a larger view.


Just like I always tell potential customers when they write to me: light in two layers 1). screen with inexpensive fixtures and 2). subject with other kinds of soft or hard lighting. In fact, you don’t need a high CRI fluorescent tube for lighting your screen so you don’t need expensive models of tube, nor do you need expensive fixtures.

Doug’s project cost about $2500 and uses simple, Home Improvement store, 2 tube, shop light type fixtures for the cyclorama lighting layer. Just make sure the ballasts are electronic, flicker free and of course silent. You can buy one that you’ve verified is electronic to test out and if you don’t like the results, take it back and try another fixture until you do have the right one. For his green screen, he went the hard, built-in cyc route. Many use large sheet linoleum to create such a cyc and paint it with the appropriate shade of green or blue.

Back to the lighting issues around a screen like this. What you use for the subject lighting layer depends entirely upon how well the lighting needs to integrate with the background plate which will be substituted for the green screen in final process and what effects are necessary to get it to look natural. Doug is using the CL-655s for blanket soft lighting the subjects in the foreground.

Another variation on this would be to use the 8U 200w bulb hung upside down either bare, with no diffusion or in a lantern type setup. I call these poor person’s spacelights. Spacelights (high wattage lanterns) are used in green screen and other cyc settings when there may be more than one camera angle involved and the lighting needs to be flat and even over the whole screen area.

One thing you may know is that a green screen needs to be as evenly and flatly lit as possible to get a clean key without much work. Another indispensable accessory to get for your shoplights is a set of “cracked ice” or “prismatic” styrene diffusion panels to put over them (or just buy them that way when you’re getting your fixtures). Many fixtures do include these as part of the deal. These type panels don’t cut so much light as they just smooth out the output. We even recommend them to our customers that need that extra bit of smoothing on our studio models but not cutting any light. Just cut the panel to sizes to fit into our slide-in adapter right behind the barndoors.

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