Filming in Colorado

Colorado has been a hidden gem for film locations for quite some time. With a rich history of filmmaking, it has been featured in such classic films as True Grit, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Filmmakers have know for years that Colorado is hard to beat when you consider its varied terrain provides the perfect stand-in, no matter the setting. Alpine peaks, rolling plains, lush forests, epic sand dunes, and modern cities are all mere hours away from one another. Because of this, Colorado can easily double for parts of Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Aspen Mountain Independence Pass Crystal Mill in Marble

Beyond the varied locations, Colorado has many other advantages:

Great Weather

The state has over 300 days of sunshine and when stormy weather comes through, it moves on quickly. An average altitude of 6,800 feet above sea level provides mild winters and low-humidity summers creates crisp, cool nights. This allows production schedules to run on time with little threat of weather delays.

Quality Crew

Colorado has an enviable track record of hosting productions from all over the world. There is tremendous depth in every crew position as well as a number of equipment rental vendors and full-service production companies in the state to support them. The Colorado Office of Film, Television and Media (COFTM) offers a bevy of programs and resources for out-of-state productions.

Affordability

As compared to states on either coast, Colorado is a bargain for filmmakers. Equipment rentals, crew rates and travel expenses are lower than production hubs in California, New York and Georgia. Not only is it an affordable state for production, the quality of life index is one of the highest in the nation. And Colorados’s rich history and diverse landscape provide numerous reasons to visit.

Incentives

After lagging behind behind its neighbors when it comes to providing film incentives, Colorado has a $6 million film incentive. The state allows companies that film in Colorado to receive up to a 20% tax rebate if they spend a certain amount on qualified expenses, such as crew wages and set construction.

Rich History

Colorado with its striking mountain and desert landscapes has provided the backdrop for many old silent westerns dating as far back as 1898. It has continued to be the location of choice for films like The Hateful Eight, Fast and Furious 7, The Long Ranger as well as numerous commercials, music videos and documentaries.

To take advantage of any state, you need a company well-versed in production logistics, location scouting and permitting procedures. As natives of Colorado, we know the state from Grand Junction to Burlington, Fort Collins to Trinidad, and every place in between. We are skilled production coordinators that have experience in all aspects of film and television production. We also represent a variety of filming locations in Colorado, as well as local studios offering full production services in Denver. If you need a Fixer on your next shoot, drop us a line.

Tips for Shooting Video on Green Screen

Filmmakers looking for an easy way to expand their shoots need to understand how to use green screens. With a good green screen, you can more easily create special effects, simulate locations, and build virtual sets. You can be shooting at a studio in Denver and make it look you’re in the middle of the Amazon!

But without proper technique, shooting a green screen can be more painful than it is helpful. There’s nothing worse than spending hours cleaning up bad green screen footage because someone didn’t spend time setting up the green screen properly.

To save you time on your next project, here are some tips for shooting green screens.

The Wall

In some situations, a green screen will be painted on a wall, but often green screens are hung using a green fabric material. In these cases, make sure to pull the screen tight on all sides.

For a good key, you need a green screen surface that is as flat and smooth as possible. You don’t want creases or folds in your screen. Folds create shadows that will wreak havoc on your keying in post-production.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important parts of using a green screen. Why? Because if you don’t evenly light it, you’re going to have shadows. If you have shadows, you’re going to have a bad key. Always concentrate on lighting your green screen thoroughly.

Light your Screen

The biggest mistake you can make with a green screen is lighting the screen and the subject as one. You will need multiple high-quality lights set up just to light the screen. Use diffused, nondirectional lighting that hits your screen from above. That will give you the flat lighting you need for a good key. Try measuring the lighting on your screen with a waveform monitor. You’ll know the green screen is lit well when you see a flat line going across the monitor.

Light your Talent

Talent is a part of the environment you’re creating, and that environment has its own light source. Knowing what type of footage you’ll be using for your new background will tell you how best to light the talent in front of your green screen. Where’s the light coming from? Is it behind the talent or in front of them? Plan this out and light accordingly.

Keep It Separated

Separate your green screen from your foreground elements as much as possible. A good rule is to pull your foreground elements at least ten feet away from your green screen. This will help to eliminate shadows that your foreground elements might cast on the green screen. Just like creases in the screen, shadows cast by the foreground elements will cause problems when you are trying to get a clean key.

In addition, separating your foreground elements from the screen will help eliminate the spill. Spill occurs when some of the green light bounces onto the objects in the shot, giving them a soft green outline. You don’t want to deal with spill when keying in post-production.

If It’s Green, It’s Gone

If someone shows up in a green tie, the Key tool in the video editing software will show a hole through their chest. Look out for colors that have just a hint of green too. Mirrored or reflective objects like eyeglasses can also be a problem. Take the time to review your shots before filming to make sure you aren’t picking up green reflections on any objects.

Plan Ahead

When shooting green screen, you want to be prepared. Know how to key properly. Know your shots and camera angles. Storyboard them or previs them so that everyone on the crew knows what you’re going for. Let the cinematographer know where the light source is coming from in each shot. Plan these scenarios.

Shooting on a green screen can provide some great results. It’s not that hard to do as long as you plan ahead and watch out for the small things that can pose big problems later on. We hope these tips make your next green screen shoot a little easier.