How To Use a Green Screen? How Does Green Screen Work? Guide & Tips

Nowadays, a lot of content creators are using the green screen technique. It has become a common thing for filmmakers, but also, anyone else making videos.

If you just think about it, modern movies wouldn’t be as flashy if we didn’t have this technology. Green screen allows us to turn our fantasies into reality and provide viewers with a unique experience.

With webinars and online calls growing rapidly, green screens have found another use and their popularity continues to grow!

What is a green screen? Can you use it for personal videos in a home setting? Read this article to find out.

What is a green screen?

Basically, a green screen represents a backdrop that allows video-makers to add new elements to their videos. They will create the initial footage against the green screen (usually shooting human interaction), and later on, they will add whatever they wish in the background.

The green screen relies heavily on a process called “chroma keying.” It is a post-production technique that allows us to combine two images or videos together based on color hues (otherwise known as chroma range). This is the main secret in creating all these fascinating worlds and sceneries.

During chroma-keying, you will be able to isolate a single color tone or brightness value. This value will be separated in an electronic image. Then, you can use green screen software or video editing software that would make this value transparent. By doing so, you will see other images through previously removed areas.

We also need to mention luminance keying or luma keying. This is the same as chroma keying, but it utilizes a certain brightness value (for example, white or black). Luma keying is very important when you apply mattes.

Green Screen Use on Webinars and Live Calls

With the rapidly growing popularity of live webinars and various Zoom, MS Teams, and Google Hangout calls – the green screen had become a much-needed tool.

In many cases, we do not have an opportunity to talk in person to individuals or big groups. There is a lot of our personal appearance lost in this “digital communication”, so in order to maintain a high level of professionalism you can use a green screen.

For example, if your work from home location is not ideal, a green screen would significantly enhance the overall feel of your video feed.

Live Streaming with Green Screen

One of the popular uses of green screen is – during live streams, (with apps like OBS but there is a wide choice of other live streaming apps).

You can put your stream game in the background or just use it for any other purpose to provide more entertainment to your audience.

How does a green screen work?

how to do green screen

Although it sounds very complicated, using a green screen is relatively simple.

You just put a green backdrop that would work as the basic background, and you shoot a video with a human subject (or subjects) in front of it. Later on, the green screen will be removed during post-production editing. You have to use video editing software that can remove everything green from your footage.

Keep in mind that this technique can be used with a backdrop of any color. However, green is the safest choice because this color is very different from the color of human skin and hair. As a result, there won’t be overlapping.

When removing elements, everything in green color will be removed as well. In other words, avoid using anything that has this color. This includes clothes, props, and small objects. Alternatively, you might also go with a blue screen.

A green screen allows you to combine two videos together. However, there are numerous things that can lead to incompatibility. Sometimes, it might feel as if you just threw two different footages on top of each other. In order to create a great video, you will need to pay attention to lighting, camera, shadows, and many other things.

How to do green screen?

Setting up a green screen isn’t that hard. In fact, you can set it up in your own house. Here’s how you make a green screen at home:

Buy a backdrop

Backdrop or screen is one of the few crucial parts of equipment that you’ll need for this project. Ideally, you should buy a bright green piece of muslin cloth.

Don’t use any color that matches your skin. Furthermore, when shooting, don’t wear anything that would match the backdrop’s color, or you’ll “disappear.” Needless to say, the backdrop shouldn’t have any tears or wrinkles.

If your screen got any wrinkles, you could easily iron them out. Alternatively, you can rent a wrinkle-resistant backdrop.

Buy lighting equipment

A very important thing to note is that you’ll need a separate lightning set for your backdrop aside from lighting that is on the subject. If you don’t get it, everything will look patchy while filming, making it that much harder to edit in post-production.

Also, make sure to buy a diffused lighting setup. You need to light the backdrop from above in order to avoid the creation of directional shadows. Ideally, you should get two 100-watt bulbs. They will have to be diffused through a softbox so that you can get the optimal effect.

Focusing on the subject

In most cases, filmmakers will use human subjects for their green screen. However, you can also use inanimate objects. It is very important to create a separation between the backdrop and the subject.

That way, you will avoid the creation of a green hue that reflects upon them. If you make this mistake, it will be very hard to combine the subject’s lighting with the background lighting.

Start filming

The hardest part about the green screen is buying the right equipment and setting it up properly. Funny enough, shooting the actual scene is the easiest thing. The only thing you need to consider is creating several takes. You will need the right footage for the post-production, so make sure to film the scene several times to have the right raw material.

Edit the rough cut

The first part of the editing is making a rough cut. This has to be done before adding a modified background. Make sure to edit all of your initial footage. If possible, during the initial editing, you should be able to create the final cut.

The creation of the initial rough cut is very important. You don’t want to start making a non-green screen background only to discover that you won’t be using that scene or shot.

Removing the green screen

So, how to edit the green screen? For this action, you will have to rely on green screen software (which can remove the green screen live) or video editing software. There are lots of tools that you can use, and most of them come with a simple interface and instructions, even if you’re a beginner.

Almost editing every software has a feature that would allow you to remove green elements from a video. After that, you can use a series of processes to modify keying out.

Add the new background

Now that you’ve prepared all other elements of the video, you can finally add the new background. During the final step, you should already have your final cut, and you’ve also removed green elements. Now, you just need to paste the required video/image.

This last element will go beneath the subject. There are a lot of things you need to consider during this last phase, such as adjusting the lighting, finding the right hue and sharpness, all for the purpose of adding a realistic feeling to it.

Tips for using a green screen

tip for using green screen

Like with everything else pertaining to film and videos, the devil is in detail when it comes to using a green screen. Here are some awesome tips that even the greatest filmmakers use on a daily basis:

Make sure to check the lighting levels

Whether we’re talking about photos or videos, lighting is a major factor. It can later destroy all your work if it’s not properly set up. 

The lighting levels have to be consistent in both your background and foreground footage. For example, the changes in daily sunlight and the creation of shadows within a room can cause all sorts of issues. If your background and foreground footage have different lighting levels, it will feel as if you took two different videos and tried to mash them up together.

Always consider the shadows before shooting

With that being said, shadows are the second thing to keep in mind. Strong light can increase the shadows, which makes everything harder. When you use lighting on the green screen, shades of different sizes may appear on the backdrop, and it will be much harder to remove them in post-production.

It is crucial that there is only one green tone on the screen. Otherwise, you won’t be able to perform keying. As we previously mentioned, the best way to do this is by having the subject a few feet in front of the screen. Furthermore, you should use three-point lighting for the subject.

Find the right depth of field

You should also find the right distance from which to shoot. Depth of field (that is, the distance of the closest and the farthest objects that are in acceptably sharp focus in an image) should look natural. Otherwise, the viewers will notice that there is a difference in depth between the subject and background, thus affecting their viewing experience.

Buy a tripod

If you’re doing a DIY home project, you might not need a tripod. You would just need a helper with a stable hand. However, if you want to do things right, it is much better to buy this piece of equipment.

Tripods are especially important for green screen scenes. As you’ve noticed by now, there shouldn’t be much difference in terms of lighting and shadows. If the camera moves a lot, the lighting and shadow will also move with them.

That being said, zooming or unzooming will also affect the final, raw footage.

Avoid anything green

Green clothes and even small green objects can totally ruin your shot. While you might try wearing some tones of green, it is much better to go with some other color. Otherwise, you will need to replace everything in that color during the editing phase.

Consider the camera’s compression

As you can presume, your camera will also have a major impact on the process. Given that this is a digital process, it is very important to have a camera that would allow you to pull a clean key.

For example, ration 4:2:2 is much easier to manipulate than 4:2:0. The second ratio is more likely to leave a ring of pixels around the subject. As you go lower with the ratio, it becomes harder to pull it off. So, when buying a camera, make sure to check its specs or ask an expert for advice.

Make sure to pull the key

Pulling the key is one of the last processes. You use it to reveal the virtual background or digital background. Compared to everything else you’ve done so far, this should be a relatively easy step.

You start by importing the clip to your timeline. Then, you will have to utilize the footage that you want to show through on a lower track. Make sure to apply a chromakey filter to the shot.

How to do a green screen on TikTok?

How to do a green screen on TikTok 1

TikTok has become very popular in the last few years. It allows content creators to create short-form entertaining videos.

One of the great things about TikTok is that it allows you to create your own green screen projects. Here is a step-by-step process that will help you to do this:

  1. Open the app and click the plus button at the bottom of the screen
  2. Tap effects that is positioned left of the red record button
  3. Here, you can find the “Green screen” tab
  4. Add your preferred background image by pressing the plus sign
  5. Choose a video or photo that you wish to add
    1. There is also an option of choosing video or photo from TikTok’s library
  6. Now, you will be superimposed on this video or photo
    1. There is also an option to modify yourself by shrinking, moving, or expanding the image
    2. There is also a timer feature that can be utilized when you record yourself. With this feature, you can choose the right length of the clip, and you can also give yourself 3 to 10 seconds to get ready for the shot
  7. If you’re being recorded, the person making the video can simply press the red button and hold it
  8. Upon finishing the first section, you have the option of using another background. Alternatively, you can repeat everything until you’re done with the video.
  9. Post your video

Conclusion

Although you might still be a bit confused as to how to edit a green screen or how does a green screen works, this article should be a good starting point in figuring it out.

With a little practice, you can easily make your own green screen videos. Just make sure to buy the right equipment and start practicing as soon as possible.

FAQ 

What is a green screen?

It is a background with which you can switch to anything on your PC through use of a green screen software.

How to use a green screen?

You place a green screen behind you when making a video or when livestreaming and go from there – there is a from explanation in my article.

What is chroma key?

Chroma key or chroma keying is the process of changing the green screen color to another background.

Why is green screen green?

The neon green that you see on a green screen is quite a rare color. So it is easy to filter out when green screen software is putting another background behind you.

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