Green screen cat advice

Being asked what the best way to shoot/finish something with this kind of white fill effect:

Things I am curious/concerned about from this example: hair detail and shadows.

The hair detail seems pretty good to me in most shots, especially the whiskers. What would you do as a VFX supervisor to ensure a good amount of hair and whisker detail could be extracted from the key? I was thinking shorter shutter and deeper DOF to not have any fall off on the cat would help. I’m assuming green is the way to go for the chroma color but would a white cat on a black background be any better? Thinking about the contrast of the whiskers against the background, but maybe a regular chroma key setup would be fine. Since the fill would be white, spill shouldn’t be much of an issue, which would be nice for a change. I’m thinking that maybe a cat with darker fur would be preferable but having a pattern would be good in case tracking is needed (like some of the fx were tracked onto the cat in the example).

I’m thinking the shadows could be preserved, and perhaps some were and some weren’t in this example. If one were interested in keeping shadows in the final product, are there any adjustments to the lighting that would help keep the shadows on the floor but not ruin the key around where the cat meets the floor? Or is it more of a multi-key, augment the shadows in comp thing?

The camera used to shoot would be a RED Gemini, if that matters. Probably an HD finish with acquisition at 5K.

Thanks for any ideas you have. This is a rare opportunity to be involved with the shoot and tailor it to the finishing needs. :slight_smile:


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Black cat on a white cyc? Some light roto and gmasking for the shadows.


I thought about this as well. Then the black cat and bad luck thing came to mind. Hah.

Also, I don’t know how many black cats have white whiskers vs. black whiskers, so that might be a thing with a white background. The shadows would probably be pretty nice with this setup, though.

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Then outsource the roto for the whiskers. The goal is contrast. And, since you absolutely don’t care about the fill, why not choose a black cat?

Another way of looking at it is to just outsource all the darn roto. It’d probably cost you what…$500-$1,000 per shot for full roto?


What about strong back lighting giving you good edge detail and illuminating the whiskers
Some fill light just to light the cat enough to provide separation with the background cyc.


The whiskers look like roto to me, added to a key. Those are going to be difficult to capture for a key on wider shots and shots where the cat moves a lot. You can mess with the shutter, not a bad idea, or try shooting higher frame rate. Either scenario, you’ll lose mo blur when the cat runs, and probably need to add in post.

Maybe makeup can help darken the cat’s whiskers, is that a thing? Wouldn’t envy that job, haha.

I like the idea of a dark cat on a digi green for this one.

For shadows, I would sweep the green onto the floor, despill it to gray, and use a blending mode to knock that out (can’t remember exactly which one at the moment), then cc it to dial it in with some soft mattes to isolate that area. Treat the shadows as a second pass underneath main cat.

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I would shoot against green and use IBK. Especially if the cam will be locked off like in the ref, should be easy to shoot/build clean plates

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You probably won’t get to choose the cat. They’re going to pick the one who has the best shape and will preform most reliably. So stress the evenly lit green screen. If the cat is light, expose the green screen like a grey card or a half stop below. If it’s dark, take it up a stop.


I’ll bet they pick a blonde cat with a white belly

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Thank you all for the replies. I really appreciate it.

I’ll keep these things in mind when discussing the project with the client and director. I’m sure it will all change (of course!) but I feel a little more confident to have some hive wisdom to steer things.

If they pick a male cat…


Agreeing with @SamE on this one. Since you may not have a say in what type of cat they provide, go with green, keep it even and exposed 1/2-1 full stop below the cat. I’ve done this on a cat shoot before & it worked great.

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