How to shoot great looking green screen video
Shooting with a green screen is a great way to make videos. If you pull it off, then you can create fantastic looking content thats flexible and takes minimal effort to put together. But if you make mistakes then it can look cheap, it’ll take a long time to edit and your audience may not take you seriously.
After 15 years of experience in creating green screen videos, we’ve refined our approach and technique for creating great looking content that’s easy to work with. By following the tips outlined below, you’ll ensure that your next green screen shoot gets the best results.
Setting up your shot
The first thing to do when you’re setting up is to think about the space you have. Bigger is better. Having the screen a minimum of 4 meters away from the talent will reduce the chance of any green light reflecting from the screen back onto the talent. If this happens, your actor will end up partially transparent when you try to key them out.
You’ll need to light the green screen as well as the talent so having a space that allows for this will make your shoot a lot easier.
Once you’ve decided on a space then you need to bring in your green screen. Once again, bigger is better. We like to use a large roll up screen made of a special low reflective paper but there are many alternatives. We also have a smaller fold out green screen for when we need to travel. As long as what you’re using is a consistent, saturated green and is big enough to cover the frame then it should work.
Here’s how to light the screen. The goal is to make the lighting even whilst exposing the green correctly. The issue with uneven lighting is that when you come to edit you’ll find different shades of green that will make masking much harder. So, if you have 2 powerful lights that you can set one up on either side of your screen then that will be plenty. Also, if you have the option to set your lights to flood then this will help even more. Just make sure that none of the lights you’re using on the green screen are spilling light onto your talent.
The next step is to light your talent. Here you can just proceed as you would normally light somebody. For some more tips on lighting subjects, you can check out this post about shooting great looking interviews.
Before you start shooting
Now you’re set up and ready to go but before you start, there are a few things to check over that will save you a potential headache in the editing room.
- Using zebra patterns on your camera will help ensure the brightness is even across the screen. Zebra patterns will show you exposure levels in your image – areas that are almost overexposed will display a pattern. To check if the screen is lit evenly, slowly begin overexposing the image. Now watch where your zebra patterns show up first. Do they show evenly or is there a part of it that was brighter than the rest? Use this technique to help you light evenly.
- As you added more lights it may have caused more light to bounce off the green screen. Check once again that you aren’t getting any green spill on your subject.
- Be aware of your talent’s movements. If they decide to gesture with their arms, will they end up with their hands outside of the screen?
- Look at what your talent is wearing and ask yourself if any of it will be an issue. Obviously wearing a green top won’t work but also think about reflective jewellery that might reflect the green.
- Look out for any folds or tears in your green screen, these will create shadows that will affect your key.
So thats my best advice for shooting with a green screen. Not every shoot is the same so not every setup will be the same but if you follow these tips it’ll make your edit easier, faster and it’ll look great. If you’re planning a green screen shoot and want to work with a team of experienced operators then get in contact here today.