In this video, Jake Weisler from fulltimefilmmaker takes a look at some basic steps you should consider when shooting for a green screen in order to get optimal results.
Green screens (or blue screens) are used in films and videos to replace the background with a different one. This has been done for years and the green (and blue) colors were chosen specifically because they are the most distinct from skin colors (just make sure your talent isn’t wearing any green/blue clothing or accessories.
Here are the six steps mentioned in this video:
- Get a green/blue screen – that is quite obvious but there are many options to choose from – you can paint a wall (make sure you get a proper green screen color – not every green will do a good job), you can use green screen fabric or even a collapsible green screen background (like this one or this that we are using in our studio). You can even use a computer screen if you only need to green screen a tiny product. If you need a large one this Westcott green screen is a good option since it does wrinkle as much.
- Light the green screen – use lights that will give you as even lighting as possible a two-point lighting one from each side – will typically give you this result
- Plan your shots – this is important in every shot but when shooting for a green screen it is even more important because you will need to plan and adjust your lighting on your subject so it will match the new background you introduce in post-production as perfectly as possible.
- Place and light your subject – As much as possible place your subject away from the green screen. This way you won’t get spill of green light from the green screen onto your subject, it will also produce fewer shadows from the subject on the green screen. Ideally, you will want a lighting setup that will have a key, hair (that will help you separate the subject from the background. Finally, you might also want a fill light. Make sure you light your subject in the same way as the green screenshot was done (so if your subject is supposed to be outdoors light him/her accordingly (the same with day/night shots or winter/summer shots etc.).
- Shoot for a green screen – ideally shooting with the highest color quality is the best option (so if you can shoot in 4:2:2 at 10bit – either internally or externally – do so. Use a tripod for best results, if you want to use a slider you can but you might need to mask in post.
- Post work – in Premiere Pro put your green screen replacement footage below the one with your subject so when you remove the green you end up with your subject on the background of your choice. Choose in effects and ultra key and place it on your top clip and now the fun begins. You will need to play with the adjustments until they remove the green tint in your subject. Even before that, you will need to use the selection tool and choose the green in your green background. For this part Weisler has some useful tips in the video (starting from around 07:00 in the video).
We have looked into working with green screen (and blue) many times in the past. We have covered Jem Schofield, Matt Forbes from Telestream who looked at few different aspects of green screen use as well as James Mathers from the Digital Cinema Society who made a full Beginner’s Guide to Lighting a Green Screen. More recently we also covered some other Useful Tips For Working with Green Screens.