Tips for Successful Green Screen Productions
Utilizing green or blue screen (chroma key) in your video projects is a great way to introduce a professional and stylish look to your video productions. Having the ability to change your subject’s background in post production will give you limitless options when it comes to your final product. There are a wide variety of chroma key backgrounds to choose from that will give your video production a polished look similar to larger video productions.
The basic idea of green screen production is simple: setup a green screen, shoot your talent in front of it, then remove the green in your video editing software and replace it with your chosen background in post production. However, getting a precise key from your footage can be a trial and error process that could cause frustration if the original footage is not shot correctly.
Here are a few simple tips you can use to help make your green screen background production as seamless as possible:
How to choose a chroma backdrop
a. Whether you use green or blue (the most common chroma key colors) is up to you. A clean key can be achieved with either color, but you will want to take into account the color of clothing your talent will be wearing and also make sure nothing in your scene closely matches the color of the background color you are trying to remove.
b. Use paint or a drop cloth and try to remove as many wrinkles or variations in the color of your background as you can. The more consistent your background color, the easier time you will have removing it in post production.
a. This is probably THE most important aspect of a good green screen video production. Having a well lit, consistent background color is key (no pun intended) to being able to remove the background seamlessly from your shot.
b. Setup a series of lights that illuminate your backdrop consistently and try to reduce the number of hotspots on the backdrop. Outdoor or fluorescent lighting is a good option because it is a diffused light that spreads evenly across your backdrop.
c. Light your subject well using diffuse lighting as well. Also, a back light that illuminate the back of the subject will help to create a clean edge for your video software to work with.
Setting up Your Scene
a. Place your subject a minimum of 4 steps from your backdrop. This will eliminate shadows from falling onto the green screen and will also help to minimize color spill. Color spill occurs when the reflected green from your backdrop “spills” onto your subject and causes the color of clothing or skin to change hue to match the background. This can cause problems for your color key software and results in rough edges on the final production.
a. Try to shoot your video with the best HD camera you have available. If possible, use a camera that allows you to make manual adjustments to the ISO/Gain, shutter speed and white balance. The ISO/Gain controls should be set to a low setting. This will require more light, but will give you cleaner video with less noise and artifacts to deal with.
By following these simple rules and techniques, you should be able to create a clean shot that will allow you to easily remove the chroma key from your background. Now you can replace the green screen with a virtual background or other video background. Have fun!