Bluescreen Your Basement On A Budget

Written by James MacGregor on . Posted in Guides


Your film is almost done. All you need is that scene in the pyramids. Or on a submarine. Or in space. A seat on NASA's next shuttle is out of the budget, though. What's a desperate director to do? Build your own virtual set, of course...



Nick Jushchyshyn will show you how. And at less than $30, chances are it can be done on even the tightest of budgets. He posted the step-by-step guide a while ago, but you can still pick up most things you need from your local hardware specialist. Just grab the staple gun and you are off to a flying start.

He got the idea of making a blue screen set up by watching The Making of Star Wars, when he realised that compositing technique - filming action against a solid blue background, replaced by any environment or other action filmed later - opens endless possibilities to the filmmaker.

Professional compositing materials can cost an arm and a leg. but almost any solid colour material can serve as a small "bluescreen". One easy solution is to use fluorescent green or blue poster board to create small backdrops suitable for close-ups, but larger scenes need bigger solutions.

You can build a large blue screen 24 feet wide (including a wrap-around wall) with common materials and a few tools for under $30. It's easy to build and can be completed within a couple of hours. The finished screen is 8 feet high.

The project outlined doesn't address lighting, camera or software and of course all of these elements are needed to work together efficiently to composite layers of video or mattes into a finished scene, but then you need to start somewhere.

It would probably be a good idea to shoot a few shots against a small piece of material and testing how well you can composite with it using your lights, camera and software before spending the time and energy to build a large screen – bnut that would only be common sense, wouldn't it?

The guide even includes step by step pictures and a sample of the finished product seen in a film (or not seen – if you know what I mean.)