How green is my cove


A piece of fabric, one test pot, 60 litres of specially mixed paint, several different sized paint rollers, eight hours and two coats of paint.

When a client first asked if the Big Shed could provide a “green screen” background cove for filming against, we thought, “how hard could it be?” Now that we are used to the request and have completed the operation several times, it’s relatively easy. But the first time we did it…

Green screen green, what colour is that exactly?

The only way to get paint the correct shade is to have a piece of green screen fabric scanned by your local paint mixing specialists. Watch the specialist purse his lips (just like old fashioned car mechanics used to do) and utter tutting noises, all the while muttering things like “it’s really vibrant this fabric – almost luminous, not sure we’ll be able to match it” and “hmm, the scanner seems to be picking up the shadows of the fibres”.

So, after more humming and hawing, a bit of jiggery pokery and a splash of magic we were presented with a test pot of the potential liquid. It looked great in the tin – almost burnt your eyes out it was that green – but you never can tell until it’s on and dry. Back to the Big Shed in anticipation.

After a quick splosh on a substantial piece of background board we had lunch while we waited for it to dry. Yes, we watched paint dry. After lunch we took a few snaps and sent them off to the client as a test.

Success breeds aching arms

A call from the client told us all that we needed to know. Quick call to the paint specialist to order, let me see now, 60 litres should do it – not knowing what we were using it for, the paint specialist asked us laconically if we were intending painting the town green or were we just fed up with the autumn colours outside everywhere. We got him back by asking “ can we have it ready in an hour please?”

We’ve painted the cove and scoop before, lots of times in fact. But always a pale colour. Vibrant green was new to us. Get out the big rollers and paint trays and get to work.

green-scoop-and-coveThere’s an art to painting emulsion onto a surface (any decorator will tell you that). Too much overlap and you see bands; spread it too thin and you see patches, too thick and it can run, not quick enough and an edge can dry and give you patches. Come and have a go if you think it’s easy.

After several hours of staring at green, green and green the first coat was done. Boy was it green! Take a rest and have a proper look from outside the cove. It was good, really good, but just to make sure… a second coat was decided upon. Now, first coat over white base, no problem – see where you’ve been, see where you need to go – simples! Green on green – not so easy. We had to make sure every square inch of this massive sweep and cove had exactly the right amount of paint for the finish we wanted.

After eight hours of painting it was done. Greener than a green thing. Smooth, no patches, even colour. Great.

The client came in, set up, shot his commercial and left. Suppose it’s a compliment really, not saying a dickie bird about the green environment – it’s what they expected, and it’s what they got. Loads of thanks for everything else – but not the green.

With the shoot over we checked the booking schedule for the next time the main studio was going to be used. One day’s grace and then it was needed again – specifically booked for the scoop and cove – in white please.

But that’s another story