Using a green screen opens up a world of creative possibilities when you’re filming content or making videos for your brand. Without stretching the budget you can transport the subject of the video to anywhere in the world, use the background to display important information or product demonstrations, or even create much more elaborate effects.
The secret behind green screens (or blue screens) is a video editing tool called a chroma key. Chroma keying is a technique that can be used to layer two videos together, but it relies on the use of solid coloured background to select and remove unwanted footage. When green screens go right you get Hollywood blockbusters, and when they go wrong you get a production that stands out for all the wrong reasons. We’re going to go over some of the dos and don’ts for introducing a green screen to your video maker’s repertoire.
Green Screen Do's
While a green screen is a cost-effective way of getting more from your video productions, they do need to be used properly for best results.
- Set up proper lighting. Good lighting is central to the chroma key effect that powers green screens. Filmmakers often focus on lighting their subject and forget the importance of lighting the background. If your green screen is shadowed or unevenly lit then the editing software will struggle.
- Wear solid, contrasting colours. The subject of your video needs to be wearing a colour that easily contrasts against the green screen. Solid colours will also show up better than stripes or large patterns. Avoid solid white or solid black clothes.
- High shutter speed. Shooting with a higher shutter speed eliminates motion blur and helps with the chroma key effect. The less blur or distortion in your videos, the better the green screen will end up looking when you’re done. A good starting point is to double your shutter speed, but if there’s lots of motion on screen then higher shutter speeds should be used. Just make sure not to increase your shutter speed to the point where your video begins to darken!
- Low aperture. The aperture is the opening on your camera that lets in light, measured as F-stop. A low F-stop will give you a shallower depth of field, meaning your subject is in focus and the background is out of focus. This effect smooths out your green screen and makes it easier for the chroma key to do its work while keeping your subject in sharp focus.
- Native ISO settings. The ISO of your camera is a measure of its sensitivity to light. Lower ISO settings make for darker videos, while higher ISO settings make for lighter videos. The best option for filming against a green screen is to set your camera to the ISO setting it automatically uses, otherwise known as its native ISO.
Green Screen Don'ts
Green screen effects can look fantastic when done correctly. When you get it wrong, they’re more likely to make your production look amateur or cheap, which is the opposite of the effect most of us are trying to achieve. Avoid falling into these common traps:
- High ISO settings. Using a high ISO might seem like an easy way to improve the brightness of your video, but increasing the ISO introduces grain into the footage that can interfere with the chroma key process.
- Wearing green. This should go without saying, but green clothes and green screens don’t play nicely together. The same goes for any clothes with loud or large patterns. These tend to confuse cameras and show up poorly at the best of time.
- Positioning your subject close to the background. Having the subject of your video close to the green screen causes two big issues. The first is that your subject can cast a shadow on the screen. Separating them from the screen avoids the issue of shadowing and allows for better lighting of the green screen itself. The second issue is that light from the green screen is reflected back onto the subject, causing the green glow that can sometimes be seen in green screen effects.
Film Your Videos With Green Screen
All over the world, it’s getting easier to access better cameras, equipment and editing software, and it means brands need to step up their game when recording video content. Green screens can take your production to the next level, or they can cheapen your efforts when mishandled. If you’d like some professional help with filming content, Video Domain would love to help! Our network of experienced shooters can put together a video that showcases the best of your company and helps you reach the people you’re after. Get in touch with us today if you’d like to know more.