Green screen backgrounds can take your video project to the next level if you know how to use one. Check this comprehensive green screen guide.
Everyone from big budgeted Hollywood productions to YouTubers and vloggers utilizes the power of a green screen. You’ve seen them before, and you probably have a general understanding of how they work. If not, we’re here to show you exactly how in this comprehensive guide to green screen backgrounds.
For images or video projects, using a green screen can transport you to a new world, or provide you with a consistent, professional background. Using a green screen is relatively simple but by becoming familiar with the fundamentals, you can expertly set up, light, and shoot your videos correctly and effectively.
What Are Green Screen Backgrounds?
Also known as chroma key, green screen technology has been around for about as long as talkies, but it is often seen as a relatively new technology. Green screens allow for easy ‘keying’, or removal, of the background in place of a graphic, photo, or video. Its most practical use is in news, specifically used for weather reports.
There are other colors to use besides green. You can use either a red or blue screen for background removal, however, this may cause problems in editing. Using red is difficult because of how close it matches skin tone. Blue may not work because of how prominent the color is in clothes, specifically jeans, which can make keying tedious.
A green background is a primary choice because of its lack of prominence in clothes and it is far removed from matching skin tones.
Choosing A Green Screen
Now that you settled on the color of your background, it is now time to choose the type of backdrop. You can use anything for green screen backgrounds such as poster boards, a painted wall, sheets and fabrics, and more, just as long as the color is flat and completely uniform. However, we recommend using a proper green screen background.
The most common type of green screen backdrop is made from muslin, which is a plain cotton weave. You can find these sheets at various craft stores or online. A quick search on Amazon shows results for over a thousand kits, screens, and backdrops. Find one that fits within your budget, and purchasing a kit with lights is a huge plus for lighting your subjects and background.
Setting Up Your Green Screen
The key to a great ‘key’ is uniformity and smoothness in your backdrop. When setting up your screen, you want to ensure your background is wrinkle and debris-free. Any wrinkles can cause artifacts to appear in your final edit creating a distracting effect.
If your green screen came with a stand and clips, stretch the fabric so that it’s as flat as possible or you will see wrinkles. Use a steamer to remove any wrinkles that may cause problems in editing or run your hand across the screen to flatten the fabric as much as possible. Slight wrinkling will not cause that much of an issue but deep wrinkles that overlap and create shadows can.
If you don’t have a stand you can utilize a flat wall. Just set up the screen against it and you are set to go.
Lighting Your Green Screen
More than likely you bought a kit online, which came with lights. If not, you want to get as many lights as possible to properly expose your background and your subject.
Again, uniformity comes into play with lighting. You need to have an even distribution of light to effectively do this effect correctly.
Ideally, you want to set up as many lights as possible but two to three lights on either side of the screen will be just fine. If your camera has a zebra function, you can determine if your lighting set up is flat and uniform.
Zebra is a function found on most cameras to indicate exposure levels. It is perfect for finding if you have too much light in your composition but it can be used to check for ‘bright spots’ on your screen.
You can also turn to a high-definition web camera to shoot your green screen. The lighting can be adjusted and the camera can easily be moved to get a recording of your green screen.
There are debates about which light temperature is best to use when lighting a green screen. Some tout warm and others tout the benefits of a cooler temperature. Frankly, it doesn’t matter, as long as you have an even finish.
Using Your Green Screen
Now that your green screen is lit properly, it is time for your subject to take center stage. Many people starting out with using a green screen make the mistake of standing too close to the screen, which creates shadows and causes issues in the edit.
Another issue with standing too close to the green screen is ‘spillage’ on to the subject. With lights bouncing off the green screen, green will start to reflect on the subject’s skin or clothes creating a green halo, which can result in artifacts.
Place your subject far enough away from the green screen to prevent shadows and spills but close enough to get the shot you desire. If you want a full body shot of your subject, have them step on a board or a small sheet to prevent creating shadows around their feet.
Now you have to light your subject to properly execute the effect. You want to light your subject independently from your green screen background to create a separation between the two.
Though you want to use a lot of light for your chroma key background, you don’t want to over-expose the image. Over-exposure brightens the image to such an extent that it gives the image a whitewash.
To get the perfect look, you may want to slightly underexpose your green screen background – while keeping it lit uniformly – creating a perfect separation between the subject and background.
Green Screen Tools
Now, you can key out the green backdrop easily with the right editing software. You can easily remove, add and change backgrounds using the Screencast-O-Matic Video Editor.
Screencast-O-Matic’s green screen software allows you to remove your background during the recording or editing process. During the recording process, you can set up your webcam and choose the options to remove your background. This easy process leaves out a lot of guesswork found on many green screen editors in the marketplace.
In addition, the Screencast-O-Matic video editor has the option to remove your background during the editing process. In both cases, you can choose to adjust the tolerance of the green removal to make more precise edits around your subject.
To replace with a creative background, all you need to do is add it as an ‘image’ in the overlay controls then adjust the layering in your video editor. Here’s a quick tutorial to get you started with Screencast-O-Matic.
Try a Green Screen Background Today
Green screen backgrounds have become commonplace in video productions both large and small, and are easy to use for anyone to elevate their projects to the next level.
With the use of Screencast-O-Matic, you can elevate your presentations into exciting videos with ease.
Get started using Screencast-O-Matic’s green screen feature with a Deluxe plan.