Green screen tips and options

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Chroma key walls provide an effective way to present a wide variety of information but there are ways to improve these reports by making some simple adjustments with talent and crew.

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Options Chroma key walls are not just for weather. They’re also great options for plenty of other parts of your newscasts: Standups Have reporters or anchors stand in front of the chroma key wall with a topical graphic to one side. This is also a great alternative for live shots when a live truck isn’t available or pratical. Maps For stories that rely heavily on geographic storytelling, considering using the chroma key wall with maps. This can be done either as a live shot or as part of a taped package. Images Like maps, some stories can also benefit from being able to point to a diagram, image or 3D model. Chroma key walls are a great way to present this since it allows for the image to be as large as possible while also allowing the talent to point and even interact with it. Data-driven stories Stories with data can also benefit from chroma key wall segments where the talent can point out trends in charts or graphs. Live shot tosses Anchors can stand in front of the chroma key wall and turn slightly to “face” a live image of a reporter in the field. Anchor transitions The chroma key wall can also be a great alternative set location for the last block of a newscast when you need to segway almost immediately into the next newscast and there isn’t time for anchors to swap seats at the anchor desk. Depending on your chroma key wall’s location in relation to the anchor desk, you may be able to get a cross shot from behind the anchors at the key wall with the next newscast’s anchor team visible at the same time. Eye contact Talent should remember to maintain eye contact with the camera as much as possible and orient their bodies in that direction as well. Profile angles cause a loss of eye contact and limit the amount of emotion that can be conveyed through facial and body language. That said, turning to one side can be particularly effective if the talent is point to specific parts of the graphic being inserted behind him or her — or otherwise interacting with that image. Additional monitors One way to ensure eye contact and boost overall performance is to add extra monitors around the perimeter of the key wall area. Obviously you don’t want to over do it, but adding just two additional monitors can make a big difference in your talents’ choices in standing positions and flexibility. Monitor positioning Also experiment with positioning monitors at different heights based on your talents’ comfort levels. Traditionally, monitors are placed at eye level, but sometimes keeping them lower can actually be more helpful for when talent has to interact with the graphics keyed in, such as during weather. Shot framing Also consider the framing you use on the key wall. Tighter framing is more intimate and allows viewers to see your talents’ expressions better but also means they cover more of the map. Zooming out even a little bit can also make it easier for talent to deliver an energetic, active report since it gives them more space in which to move. Looser framing also tends to show more of the talents’ lower body, which can make the weather block feel more energetic. However, talent should be conscious on how they are standing and avoid standing too formally or unnaturally. Natural stances, while not getting too casual, can be an effective way to have talent connect with viewers. Weather Of course, one of the most common and oldest uses of chroma key walls is for weather forecasts. While weather forecasts certainly involve more movement, it’s still a good idea to maintain as much eye contact as possible. When your talent steps out of the wall, it looks better to incorporate the exit into a natural movement of gesturing to an element on the graphic and stepping out to the side. All too often forecasters walk forward as they exit the frame since that path seems more natural if they need to walk back to the anchor desk. However, this move looks awkward and can also look less than ideal if the talent steps into a poorly lit area in front of the chroma key wall. When not to use chroma key There may also be times when using the key wall isn’t the best way to present the weather. For example, a cluttered or complex map may be better presented as a full screen graphic using a telestrator, if available. This is especially true during severe weather or maps that show a large geographic area since viewers often want to be able to see the entire map and not have a body standing in the way of a certain area. In cases like this, it might be better to simply display the image full screen and, if available, have the talent draw on the map or use your weather computer system’s pointers.