Capturing directly into an app has its advantages, as soon as you get it right you are good to go, but it does bring its problems:
It can be time consuming getting it right
Artifacts can creep in that you dont find out until later
Or you actually find a better background
You just may not like using an App
or don’t want to limit your options and may have a second camera available
Capturing the ‘real’ footage, green screen an all still allows you fake your scene through post capture editing. There are a range of great software options such as iMovie or Adobe Premiere but you need the hardware or software at a cost. A budget option is VSDC, it’s free (be careful when installing as it pays for itself through bundled software that you can choose to not install).
It’s not the most intuitive of software but their are plenty of Youtube video tutorials to guide you through, with two of the best covering basic chroma-keying and layering:
It turns out that Veescope has a built in Light Guide for when you are setting up your green screen built into it, that’s a saving of some £8 (wish I had realised previously!). Accessed by selecting th “edges” menu icon (the mountain range) and then select the light bulb button to the left of the ‘Key Fine Tuning’ slider. It is actually very similar in functionality to Green Screener in that you can select a chroma key colour and adjust the quality sensitivity across L/M/H.
My journey into green screen continuous into this month with a great find, Green Screener by Hollywood Camera Work, that helps you get stunningly perfect green screen. Doing away with light-meters and expensive waveform monitors the app shows you how even your backdrop is and helps you set up the best lighting conditions. It’s a little pricey as apps go at sub £8 but a worthy investment that could save you a lot more in unnecessary lighting hardware or retakes. Watch their introduction on Youtube – https://youtu.be/iuEsnXuIVcE
I moved on with Veescope (recent post) and tried an actually green-screen – so much easier, quicker and better results. The kit I used had:
These are surprisingly quick to put up, less than three minutes in fact, the green-screen (creased from being folded) worked perfectly (no ironing required). The fact that the small investment in time to put up the green-screen up and down, as opposed to finding and filming against a ‘clean’ wall, is far outweighed by the quality of the final recording. I thought that it was worth of seeing how much these actually costed – only £30 (from ebay) with clamps for the material – not a fortune but I wondered if I could find a cheaper alternative…
A recent recording (when experimenting with Microsoft Mix) at home had me hanging a an old ‘blackout’ blind, that had loitered in storage, as a backdrop to hide the kitchen behind me. A spend of £6 and an aerosol spray can of ‘Canbrush C67 by Orientus Industry’ paint later and I found myself in the garden spraying one side of the blind. It works but I soon ran out of paint, only 75% covered and about 50% of what was covered being patchy and in part pain had run (note to self: lay blind down not hang up next time). So two things came from this:
The paint was perfect for small areas or items (I have seen people use the inside of pizza boxes for small projects)
buy a green screen kit
The cost of the kits are very similar but found for a smaller increase in price (£40 from ebay) gets you cotton muslin screens that have a stitched pocket for sliding the horizontal pole into, rather than needing clamps, the cloth is woven and better quality and the cheaper non-woven and can be ironed and washed (unlike the non-woven versions) and have a high tear resistance and is long-lasting. Currently at time of writing this post I am awaiting delivery.
Update: Screen arrived, great quality, glad i bought better woven screen. I have no criticism other than it would be nice to have a storage bag for the whole lot (£6 from ebay “speaker stand bag”)
The Veescope Green Screen app in a prior post has the ability to be remotely controlled, originally by another iOS device, more recently through the use of the Apple Watch (see screenshot above). I have access to three other iOS devices:
Wifes iPhone (unfortunately with here most of the time!)
iPad classic (does not like anything beyond iOS 5.5, and the Veescope app is iOS 6)
iPad mini (from work and locked down tighter than Southend piers footings – but I am working on it)
I did however pinch the wife’s to have a go, first its a clear simple interface:
snapshot (Apple Watch does not seem to have this? – only going by screenshots seen)
My first concern was that I needed to be on the same network and thought this may well cause issues at work (I could at least try out at home) – but fear not as it functions on Bluetooth connectivity, having enabled Bluetooth of both devices, and was a breeze. It may not look fancy or offer obscure options but it works an absolute dream.
I don’t think it’s likely but I would love the option of having this controlled from a Pebble Smartwatch!
At the Betts Show earlier on in the year I saw the amazing Green Screen by Do Ink and liked the clean interface. However it is only available for the iPad , Do Ink have this on their development roadmap but they are a two person outfit and there is no deadline for it currently, I really wanted something for my iPhone 6+. Enter Veescope Live for iOS that is available in two flavours:
The interface is not as pleasing on the eye but looking at the developers website www.dvdxdv.com it seems they have a wide range of products for Macs (including other Veescope products) and Final Cut. So what does it do? Well you can elect to have either movie clip backgrounds or photos that you can step through as you record (I imagine the holiday photo slideshow from hell!).
Now this is a fun app, practical and easy to use but its also another app that has made me spend money (after opinion and Pebble smartwatch apps) and it is money well spent! The app allows for not only green screening but also keying any background. My first attemt at using this app was to record against a pure white background and turn a 30 guided learning hour unit (50% already online) to fully online in about 90 minutes. A quite environment with good lighting and a clear background, allowing me to steady my iPhone, step in front of the camera at a bleep, and step away upon another bleep, tweak the “Key Fine Tuning” and I was good to go! A laptop (and remote presenter), a dry-wipe board in the background and a colleague to start/stop recording and I was a star in the making!
I have since found that using a real green screen (for under £40) is even easier, no having to steady the camera, hold a white sheet of paper in front, remove, bingo!
What I also like is the ability to apply “mattes” to the edges of your capture, say for if you have only a small green screen or recordable area you can reduce the overall recordable area. The ability to change your backgrounds (on the fly with a remote device or keyboard) and include recorded video clips really adds to this app and remote control (an upcoming post). It saves to your camera roll seamlessly.
There are even built-in tutorials from the app. I cannot recommend this app enough, especially if you are looking for a greens screen app on an iPhone.
Thursday found me at Betts with my organisations Learning Services Manager Rhys and one of our Learning Technologists Milan. I have to say that for the first time there were a wide range of real powerful systems and some well known players, the programming curriculum was well represented with a range of programming & robotic based systems…
Lego: not only with their technics range but full kits for literacy and numeracy with adaptable lesson plans to boot
Samsung Gear VR powered by the Oculus Rift – yes this was real, and seemingly around the £200 mark!
One of the key highlights was an invitation by Epson to see their developments of their short throw projectors that whilst already winners in a range of awards were still pushing boundaries with not only the ability to collaborate between projectors globally but with impressive upgraded software that has seen real leaps and bounds in recent months. I have first hand knowledge of this as my organisation were recently subject of a case study whereby we made recommendations to their software that I am glad they have implemented. These recommendations, in part, came from our experience with SMARTs Notebook software which is well integrated in our organisation. Epson then pointed out they now had formed a partnership with SMART whereby they would be distributing their software as an option! wow, the best of both worlds.
More was to come from Epson in thier decision to enter the educational market with printers and not just any old printer range…
Pro inkjets at low cost (I did notice their entry at £150!)
as fast as laser printers
80% less power consumption
Less heat output
no fans, no requirement to bee free from walls
less carbon footprint
50% cost savings in Total Cost of Ownership over a 3yr period
lockable compartments (loved this feature!)
and a high capacity bagged ink delivery system (I kid you not!)
Google were definitely gunning for Moodle, and although not matured and seemingly still a collection of apps, you cannot deny the appeal of a free, wide-spread option whereby most learners will be already familiar with a large amount of services. I would love to see that 5 year roadmap of Google Education!
A final mention should go to a great range of products by www.personalprojector.co.uk with the most impressive being the Pico Genie P50 Pro – an extremely small pocket sized LED projector that looked tiny and versatile.