Resources for Graduation Event Professionals

How clothing can cause problems with green screens at commencement

Green screen technology is ideally suited for a studio environment, where the photographer has precise control over the individual(s) being photographed and their clothing, and where there are no constraints on the amount of time it takes to capture each image.

Commencement photographers do not enjoy these luxuries.  One of the first rules of commencement photography is "do not slow down the ceremony!"  In other words, if graduates are being announced on stage every five seconds, then a commencement photographer must be trained and prepared to capture a new graduate at least every five seconds, sometimes faster.  With the pace of the ceremony at stake, circumstances occasionally arise that are not ideal for green screen photography, but which must be accommodated by the photographer so as not to interfere with the pace of graduates on stage.

There are three common occurrences that cause problems for green screens at commencement, all of which have to do with what graduates wear to the ceremony.

Green in Regaliagreen-color-in-regalia-thumbnail

First, if your school or university has the color green anywhere in its graduation regalia, either school-wide or within one particular department, then the use of green screens is likely not appropriate at your commencement.

Notice the color green in the sash of this graduate.  Click here to see how this renders with green screen technology.

What happened in this situation is the rendering software removed the color green from her sash, thinking it was part of the green screen backdrop.  In order to correct this, a graphic artist must go into each affected green screen image individually to manually "cut out" the graduate from the background.  Although this is possible, it adds a significant delay to the amount of time it takes for graduates and their families to receive ceremony proofs, and the results may not look as natural as they would had the color green not been in the regalia.

green-in-clothes-thumbnailGreen in Clothing

The second problem common at commencement is the color green worn in a graduate's clothing that would be noticeable under the graduation gown.

Notice the graduate's green shirt. Click here to see how this renders with green screen technology.

The scenario here is the same as the first scenario above: the green screen rendering software registers the green in the graduate's shirt as part of the green screen backdrop, and removed it from the image.  When this foreground image was layered on top of each background, it appears as though you can see right through the graduate.

This problem is correctable, but again, it takes a graphic artist to manually "cut out" the graduate from the green background, which adds a considerable delay to the proof delivery process, and the results will likely not look as natural as they would had the graduate not worn the color green.

green-in-accessories-thumbnailGreen in Accessories

The third problem associated with the use of green screens at commencement is less noticeable, but still significant.

Click here to see a larger representation, and notice the graduate's earrings.

In this image, her earrings feature shades of green, which are removed by the rendering software.  An element of the image this small would be quite difficult to detect during the image inspection process, so that the graduate or her family might place an order for these photographs, only to realize once the prints arrived that her earrings were distorted.

It is possible to use a blue backdrop, such that the rendering software will remove blue from the image.  Blue, however, is a more commonly worn than green, so this is rarely an acceptable solution.  Some GradImages clients who do use green screens at their ceremonies will instruct students not to wear the color green in the clothing or accessories.  However, think about the last time you instructed hundreds of students to do something (or not do something)...

Of course, should a customer order for green screen images be flawed, the GradImages customer service department will immediately order the rendering corrected if possible, and have the order reprinted at no additional cost.  However, our goal is to provide your graduates with the best images possible.  As these commonly occurring examples clearly illustrate, the use of green screen technology at commencements will create impediments to reaching that goal for every student.

Therefore, clients who are considering the use of green screens at their commencement ceremonies are encouraged to take this information under advisement, and understand that there are almost always better options for ceremony portraits at commencement.  Please reach out to your Client Service Specialist to discuss the specifics of your ceremony.

Topics: Technology Terminology Customer Choices Best Practices Commencement Preparation