Effects shots are incredibly tedious.

In my short film Avarice, we have over 180 visual effects elements and it’s only a 12 minute film. We have been in post-production with this film for about 8 months, and the only visual effects shots that are completed as of now are two shots of opening titles. Visual effects take quite a bit of time to complete, even if you have someone who is very skilled and talented in the area.

Budget enough money for the effects to be done.

Working on an incredibly low-budget and having a volunteer crew led me to believe that the effects could be done by a passionate volunteer as well.  This was a huge mistake because no one can set aside that much time to complete an effects-heavy film unless they are being financially compensated to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. So before going into a film with a lot of green screen shots, I would make sure that you have time and money to complete it.

Don’t ever lean on the phrase, “Oh, we’ll fix that in post.”

Nine times out of ten, it’s harder to fix something in post than to fix it on set. Anything you can do to actually have real props or a real background, let me tell you from experience, DO IT. Try to avoid making a mess of your shot while filming and then adding that pressure to your post production work.

Have the visual effects supervisor on set.

Having someone who knows how to key out green screen is absolutely vital to your production. That person can tell you if a shot will work well in the computer or if it’s going to look stupid. I made the mistake of putting the green screen on soft ground when I wanted the floor to be concrete in the completed shot. But the actor’s foot sank into the earth on set and when we replaced the green screen with the concrete floor, it looked like her foot was sinking into concrete. Not exactly the effect I was looking for.

The green screen has to be lit a certain way.

Typically, the DP lights a shot, but if the DP doesn’t know how to do visual effects, he or she might not take into account that to key out a green screen it has to be evenly lit specifically for use in the computer. So making sure your visual effects supervisor and DP coordinate on that is a really good idea. Otherwise, you’ll end up like me and have re-shoot the same scene over and over again until it finally looks half way decent.

What are some mistakes you’ve made while shooting on green screen?

Rachel M Taylor

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Rachel is a writer/director. She loves character driven movies and really good cheese.

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