July is proving to be a busy month with weddings at different ends of the country, but I also had the immense honour to be booked as the photographer at RAF Wittering’s Sergeants’ Mess Summer Ball. Their previously-used photographer was already booked, so thanks to some speculative communications on my part, their committee already had my contact details.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll see that I’ve done Balls at military bases before – however, this time there was an interesting request: could I do ‘green screen’ and offer a choice of background?
This is something I’d not previously even tried, let alone accepted payment to do. So, wanting to secure the booking, but not leaving myself in a position to fail, I asked for a couple of days to check out the options. Some parts are quite simple, such as buying a plain green backdrop, and shooting tethered to a laptop. However, the actual processing of green screen at a speed and simplicity required at an event was a new proposition. I did the usual Google search and tried out a couple of software trials, before finally selecting an application called ‘Green Screen Wizard.’ As the name suggests, it automates a great deal of the processing, and allows the preview and selection of a number of different backgrounds.
further trial at home in the living room proved that I could create a work-flow that not only ensured I could offer the service, but that it could be done pretty seamlessly and swiftly at the event (guests are quite rightly more interested in enjoying their evening than waiting an age to choose their photos.)
So, on 8 Jul I set up at the Sergeants’ mess, with my eldest Niece acting as my glamorous assistant for the night, in one of their rooms and prepared to see if what worked in testing would work in anger.
In the interests of speed and reliability, I set my camera up to store 2 copies of each picture: a full-resolution, maximum quality file that would stay on the memory card in the camera, and a small, low(ish) quality file that would be sent to the laptop. In this way, the guests could rapidly see a preview of their picture, and choose their backdrop. This actually worked really well, as the preview was of high enough quality for viewing on the screen and allowed the laptop to rapidly process the green-screen with no glitches or slowness. Once back at the studio, I then processed the high quality version, and produced their final image. Also, for the images that included areas of the room outside of the green screen (large groups for example) I could then open the image in Photoshop and fill-in those areas with a green fill, re-import into Green Screen Wizard and produce the final image.
If you went to the event, your pictures have been printed by my pro lab (the excellent Loxley Colour based up in Glasgow) and I’m now waiting on the mount frames (from the equally excellent Photovalue) with the correct event info printed on them – I hope to have them this weekend for a bulk delivery to the mess.