Film and TV Studio in London - Broadley Studio
Film and TV Studio in London - Broadley Studio
Film and TV Studio in London - Broadley Studio

Shooting a Car on Green Screen

May 24, 2024 by Naz Foroodian

Shooting a car, or any subject, on Green Screen is relatively simple.

People, unlike motor vehicles, tend not to have curved and angular edges. These highly polished and rigid structures will reflect, refract, bounce and spill light off the green walls and show the kit and crew’s reflections too.

This article will help you combat some of those issues when shooting a car so you can seamlessly merge your background with the interior and exterior car shots.

shooting a car on green screen

The car’s shapes and lines can cause all manner of headaches in different shot types, lighting and editing.

Planning is key but also be prepared to think on the fly, as unlike certain models of cars, no two studios or lighting set-ups are the same and you may have to get creative with some shots; use these shots sparingly and plan for front and side shots out of sequence.

Having to reverse a big Cadillac several times a day when shooting a car can eat up time and money!

Getting Started – Prep Guide

Shoot backgrounds before you start your studio shoot. This will give you a heads up on the lighting conditions needed. You DOP will have a good idea of the conditions they need before you shoot.

When recording background video – drive on a long, straight road, no direct sunlight, no sharp turns, clean, clear backgrounds (there is only one Angel of the North, one Tower of London etc., so remember continuity).

Use a pillow to reduce camera shakes. Try a few different positions and zoom lengths so you have a library of footage. Repeat the same process with night shots as well.

Shooting a Car: Positioning

Drive the vehicle into the space.

Don’t stretch cables across just yet as you may have to drive in and out for quick turnarounds, re-positioning and testing. Try to make your set up as wide as possible to allow enough space for your vehicle to manoeuvre.

You may have to re-frame accordingly.

Green Screen Lighting

Light the green screen according to every shot.

A good solid, sunny daylight set-up is a key light through the front windscreen, back light through the rear and a reflector on standby to the side, out of shot. This can easily be moved for different shooting angles and moved to simulate changing light patterns you would get with moving cars. Also have a runner on hand to rock the car to give the idea of motion.

If the shot is a side view, close up past the passenger seat and then light the green wall with soft lights. This will reduce the spill.

If it’s a wider shot , then use the space lights and mask the car using poly board erected across the bottom of the space lights. This may require you to move the car away from the green cyc wall so you can ensure less spill, and a more favourable position away from right underneath those glaring space lights. Alternatively use poly boards on C-stands as flags to create a blackout ceiling.

Ideally you should be aiming to mask as much light from the car as possible and lighting the wall and the car separately on wider shots, you may need to daylight blue gel the space lights.

When it comes to shooting a car, there are so many scenarios so choose your shots carefully. No two shots will ever be the same and usually the best way to tell is to get a simple camera shot on the car as soon as possible to frame and light based on that framing. Closer shots will require less green wall lighting time but more set up time for flagging.

Art Direction Tip

Fake moving shadows across the windscreen – use bits of wood or cardboard and any tree branches lying about and pass them across smaller dedo lights or red heads intermittently to give the impression of speed. Best to ask the director of the intended speed of the car so you can judge the speed you pass the ‘shadows’ across the car. Experiment in this area and stick to this method in short takes.

These tips and hints for shooting a car on green screen should get you well on the way to filming those important interior and exterior car settings. Great for showing the passing of time through motion and can also work really well with a voice-over.

FAQ: Tips for Shooting a Car on Green Screen?

Cars can signify a journey and be a good way to get actors up close together.

Shot well, it can really add a new dimension to your film.

Remember, when shooting a car on green screen:

1.  It's not as daunting as it sounds
2.  Shoot your backgrounds first before you begin studio production
3.  When shooting background videos, remember continuity, no sharp turns, no direct sunlight...
4.  Minimise camera shakes with a pillow or something similar
5.  Position your car carefully in the green screen space
6.  Make sure you light the green screen individually for each and every shot to minimise spill
7.  If you need to create a sense of motion, have someone rock your car
8.  If you need to create shadowing across the windscreen to produce a sense of speed and motion, then fake it using, for example, bits of wood or cardboard
9.  Finally, planning and preparation are key to ensuring that shooting a car on green screen goes without a headache!

Does your production involve shooting a car on green screen? Hire real green screen experts like Broadley Studio in central London to help create the perfect car shoot...

Broadley Studio - THE Green Screen Experts

With over 25 years' experience and our leading-edge, state-of-the-art green screen and virtual production facilities, Broadley has you and your production covered.

To get a flavour of what we can do for you, check out our latest showcase, case studies and studio specs. Or take a virtual tour of our studios.

To find out more about our studios and production services, our experience of shooting a car on green screen, and how we can help you and your shoot, please call us on +442077255858 or email us at [email protected].

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