How to Use a Green Screen


In this edition of our filmmaking mini-series, let’s look at the versatile filming technique; green screen.

A green screen is exactly that, a screen of matte, light green material that’s placed in frame behind the object or person you’re filming.

As it is such an unusual, vivid colour we are able to “key” it to remove it from the shot and replace it with whatever we want. You can change it to a white background or a doctor’s office, or a supermarket.

Maybe you are filming people in different locations on different days, but you want a consistent look. Green screen can do that. If one of your interviews was not available on the filming day, you can drop them into the background later.

You could also change up the background to fit your branding. Green screen provides you with options after you’ve shot the footage. From there you can make whatever creative decisions you’d like.

The editor can move objects and people around the frame, if you want to show something else on screen like a graph or a powerpoint. You can even key objects within your shot and change them to something else in post.

So how do you get a “good key”? First is the lighting setup. The green screen needs to be lit evenly, the subject needs to be lit well from the front and the back.

A green screen is portable, so you can take it on location but you do need to have a room big enough to accommodate it. To avoid shadows, you need to have enough space between the subject and the background. All this set up could take a while, so make sure to allot enough time in the shooting schedule to get the results you want.

And make sure your subject doesn’t wear green!

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