I've been using green screen software with students since about 2004. In fact I'll always remember filming a student dressed as a superhero about ten years ago and struggling with the lighting. Luckily a Channel 4 film crew were with us (making a film about us making films!) and used their professional setups to sort us out.
Times have changed though and these days a genuinely decent green screen effect can be accomplished in a school setting without the need for any professional gear. The one thing you will need though is the single best green screen app ever produced:
Let's take a look at some tips and tricks for getting the most out of your movie making experiences using Do Ink.
SCREENS OF GREEN Semi-pro green screen material and frame setups can be purchased online fairly widely these days but do you need them? Honestly I think the answer is no. I simply bought some large sheets of green fabric from a cheap textile merchant and they work just fine. In fact approaching things this way has its advantages. Firstly I can move them around quickly and easily. I can use the native classroom display boards (made of cork) to pin them to and just cover any work that may be on them. Most importantly I can afford more of them - why have one amazing set up that a whole class have to queue to use if you can have half a dozen and share them out? Here's my daughter playinga round with our setup at home - justa green sheet! (NB it's deliberately misframed to demonstrate the effect produced)
REAL LIFE LEARNING Using green screen technology in the classroom provides an excellent real life learning opportunity. Show students example clips of professional green screen use from Hollywood blockbusters that they are familiar with (Avengers, The Hobbit, Jurassic world – there are dozens of clips available either via DVD bonus features or simply from a quick dig around on YouTube.) Framing the activity like this will only heighten engagement levels further and could even set some of those kids on the path to a career in special effects work…
TUTORIAL LESSON Some of you may have read my article on introducing a new app via child-led learning. Whilst that approach can be applied to Do Ink, there is actually an excellent sample project that comes with a tutorial guide in Do Ink. This is split down into 4 activities that walk first-time users through the initial process of editing and saving a clip as well as recording live with the camera or using still images. A brilliant touch with the sample project is the use of a child rather than an adult as the on screen guide.
SOURCING BACKGROUND IMAGES
Encourage students to source high quality background images. Nothing ruins the effect quicker than a blurry/pixelated backdrop! Include digital citizenship principles in the lesson by directing them towards images that are free to use rather than simply taking anything they can find online. Make sure safe image search is turned on or better yet use a kid safe search engine for your images like www.safeimages.safesearchkids.com.
Of course there's nothing to stop them from creating the image themselves too. Perhaps they could draw the image, either by hand or in an art app like Drawing Pad, then use that for a really personal touch?
50 SHADES OF GREEN
Finding the best match for your green screen is key to getting the best looking chroma key effect. You can adjust the actual chroma key colour and use the sensitivity slider to help with this but some people don’t realise that the source view window (ie the smaller window in the top right) can be used as a colour picker. Just click on the part of the image that you want to make invisible and bingo! If students just can’t quite match up that shade of green, this could be the magic answer for them. It could even be used as a form of differentiation if you don’t tell the more able students how to do it…
MAKING VIRTUAL PHOTOS
We used to use the Mater FX app to create composited images as a part of a larger ebook project element (you can read the old virtual trip article here.) The problem with using apps like these is that you have to spend time cutting out the characters or erasing the background on the shots of the students. This can often be a painstaking process and the results can be choppy if the kids aren't precise. Do Ink has you covered though as you can export an image rather than a video if desired! Using the chroma key effect is far quicker and generally the results can be far more impressive. Here's a certain spaceship flying over Dubai -
SOURCE CROPPING AND POSITIONING
You don’t have to apply the green screen effect to an entire shot or image if you need/wish to retain part of it. This can prove particularly helpful if your actual green screen is quite small as you can limit the area where the effect is applied to just the area close to the student being filmed. You can also manipulate the position of an overlay using traditional pinch-zoom and rotate touch gestures. This can be cool if you want to create picture in picture style effects (hello new reports!) that include the green screen effect.
THREE LAYER EFFECTS
Don't forget that you actually have three layers in Do Ink. What this means is that you can apply a simultaneous double chroma key effect using two separate overlays. This opens a lot of potential doors as you can add in additional special effects - like a witch holding a magical crystal ball that you chroma key a second scene into whilst she is herself set against a fantasy backdrop! Another option is to use it for the next thing on our list...
Do Ink have a companion app called Animation and Drawing that is also well deserving of a download and allows you to create and edit simple animations. These can then be imported into Green Screen and overleyed onto your core effect. The sample project mentioned as a part of the tutorial guide contains a couple of excellent variations on this idea.
CREATIVE COMBOS Credit to Sabba for first showing me this a while back. You can use the Greenscreen effect to get really creative with other apps. For example, add a green backdrop to Puppet Pals or Tellagami and you can insert a video backdrop via Doink. You can even use this to create a Tellagami where two characters appear on screen together. You could leave a section of a Pic Collage green then import to Doink and insert a video clip to explain the content. The potential uses for this idea are only limited by your creativity!
And that makes 10.
Find out more about Do Ink Green Screen via their official site or by following them on TWitter - @DoInkTweets.