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April 29, 2011 / GreenMan

Paint vs. Muslin

Paint… Just what the professional ordered…

Okay, so you’ve got a video/photo studio… Now what? Well, get your roller ready, because we’re about to chromakey pro style! Why mess with greenscreens and backdrop stands in your permanent studio? They get dirty, wrinkled, or the color may fade over time. Or what if you’re filming an awesome action sequence but your actors keep tripping over the greenscreen under their feet? Yes, you could tape it down… again. OR you could use one or two of the walls in your studio and just paint them a chromakey green or blue. Paint is the perfect solution for maintaining a professional and efficient greenscreen studio.

Today I’m going to be reviewing Rosco chromakey paint. It’s what I use, because it’s what the pros use. One gallon of this stuff covers about 300 square feet. It is true chromakey green in color, has a matte finish, and usually dries within one hour from first application. The best part is, that one coat will usually do the job. You may need to touch up here and there, but it goes on smooth and rich, and trust me, you’ll love the results.  The great thing about using paint instead of a muslin, is that it is so easy to touch up. You don’t have to worry about snags or rips in a screen. Any dirt can be swept away and any scuff can be repainted, so you’re ready to shoot again in no time.  And plus, there’s no breakdown needed after shooting. You just turn the lights off and go home. It’s a great investment and can save you money in the long run. You won’t have to buy backdrop stands, or clamps, or tape, or any other accessories that you would normally need with a muslin backdrop.

All that being said, there are some scenarios where I would NOT recommend using chromakey paint. Do not paint cloth with it. I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m only saying it shouldn’t be done. Getting the consistency right would be difficult, and not to mention, painting the cloth would be extremely messy. It wouldn’t be worth it. Just buy a screen. I have seen people paint paper backdrops and roll them up to bring on location. Ugh… don’t do that either. Again, the consistency may not be correct on paper, and you run the risk of wrinkles and cracks in the paint and plus, if it gets dirty, it’s pretty much toast. So moral of the story, paint is super good for permanent studios, not so great as a portable chromakey backdrop.

If you have a studio, but maybe it’s small or you don’t want to permanently paint one wall green, don’t worry! You can still use the paint to your advantage. Go out and get yourself some canvas theater flats, and paint those.  They are usually covered in a thick muslin cloth with wooden backing that holds paint pretty nicely. However, you might have to use more than one coat in order to get the same richness, as the muslin will soak it up. With theater flats, you can lean them up against a wall (or some are even on rollers), so you can still have your chromakey wall without painting the wall itself. Those are also really convenient because they store very nicely, so you can fit many flats in one small space.

**Quick tip to save some green: sells their own brand of chromakey paint (which is modeled after Rosco brand chromakey paint, minus the high price tag) It has a lot of the same great qualities as Rosco.  So if you’re on a budget, this would be the paint you’d want to go with.**


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