The Cat Stays in the Picture”
It’s Friday morning and the phone is ringing.
“Howard here. I need a 10-minute video about my new product. Can you do it?”
“Sure, how about 10 tomorrow. I’ll shoot it greenscreen.”
Greenscreen is a quick fix. If I’m an expert in anything, it’s fast, painless greenscreen.
We do it in our living room. From normal domestic family room to greenscreen deluxe studio—voilà, 15 minutes flat!
The Lowel Rifa light goes here, the chair and mic here. The Dedolight greenscreen light right behind the speaker; the greenscreen itself, at the back of the room. I’ll add a touch of Dedo backlight on hair or skimming the dark side of the face.
Howard arrives. He wants a teleprompter. “No, you’ll be fine. Sit down. Tell us about these softgels.” We shoot for a while and then I say, “You’ve warmed up so much, let’s do it all again from the top.”
“Hello, I’m Howard Silverman. I’m 86. About 40 years ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I went to see Dr. Patel in Edmonton, Alberta. He told me, ‘You don’t have cancer, you have kidney failure.’ He treated and cured me.
Recently I decided to visit him again. He put me on TZI RU Softgels. After three days, I woke up in the middle of the night with a massive erection. 86 years old and I have an erection, isn’t that amazing!”
Howard talks for another 10 minutes, but you’ve got the gist. As he leaves, he says, “Add some shots illustrating what I say; just search the internet.”
The door closes. I race to istockphoto.com. Search for erection: the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, how about reverse motion of a chimney demolition?
Keep It Real
Greenscreen is, of course, a cheap trick. The best way to do a head-and-shoulders interview is right there on location.
My friend Robert Parker wants a video about how he restores jazz records.
I shoot him in his studio in Devon; just a single bounce light.
For my pinot documentary, I need winemaker Jamie Kutch talking about the joys and disappointments of the harvest. Can you imagine doing that greenscreen? Of course not.
Here I am with Jamie, both buried deep in grapevine. Isn’t backlight wonderful?
I Shoot My Wife
Tricia has an online business making and selling linen bedding. She needs a video. I’m torn between filming her sewing and looking up to camera or the old greenscreen trick. I give in. We’ll do it greenscreen.
My friend John interviews her for half an hour. Overwhelmed by all the footage, I put it away. Finally, “I’ve got to finish that stupid linen video.”
At this stage, all I have is greenscreen. We set up a table for the background. Add a sewing machine and a basket full of linen. Out of nowhere, our Himalayan cat Shibui jumps up on the table and starts parading back and forward. How does she know? If she had a garter, guys would be tucking in $20 bills.
Editing the video is going to be fun. I chop Tricia’s 30-minute interview down to three and add the best of Shibui’s cat walk as a background. An hour later, it’s done.
We show the result to friends and family. “The cat’s overacting.” “Distracting. Her eyes are too big.” “Cut out the cat!”
Oh no—the cat stays in the picture! See it here:
BTW, please don’t contact me for TZI RU Softgels. The FDA is testing them. Apparently, they can’t get enough.