When working with green screens, most of the work you need to do to ensure professional production values happens in front of the camera. Between the lighting, props, talent, and screen itself—whether it’s fabric, fiberglass, or a green screen painted in chroma key paint—the creation and maintenance of the set will certainly keep you busy. But do you know that there are a few tweaks you can make behind the lens as well? Those buttons and switches on your camera do more than look impressive. Here are a few basic camera settings to use when shooting on a green screen.
Adjust Your Aperture
The aperture is the diaphragm in your camera’s lens that allows in light and permits you to adjust the depth of field. Keeping your lighting in mind, adjust the aperture to a setting of f4 or f5.6. Keep your subject in focus for added value. Increasing the f value to too high a level will cause the image to lose focus, making it harder to get a good key. Experiment with these settings, as your camera may deliver different results.
Screen the Screening
While you’re on set, leave nothing to chance. Set up your camera with another monitor that allows you to view and review the day’s shoot and provide a rudimentary version of the final product. Seeing how a video looks along the way lets you make the necessary adjustments and alterations while shooting, ensuring you don’t end up doing double the work in post-production.
Set Up Your Shutter Speed
Motion blur is the bane of any green screen production. It happens when a subject moves too swiftly, causing a weird blurry, smudged effect that makes the subject blend in with the green screen. It looks cheap and ruins whatever effect you’re going for by revealing how the magic happens. While you can ask your talent to slow down and not make any sudden movements, that can look fake, too. Better to adjust your camera’s shutter speed, taking it up to 1/80, 1/100, or even 1/125 or 1/250. Your subjects can move more naturally, and the edges of their body will remain sharp and crisp. Post-production changes will be easier as well.
Investigate Your ISO
As our final piece of advice on basic camera settings when shooting on a green screen, learn how to adjust the ISO on your camera. ISO allows you to brighten and darken your photos, enabling you to adjust to the available light and achieve different effects. For green screen work, most experts recommend keeping the ISO low. Too much ISO and your film will look grainier because the ISO picks up more detail and becomes brighter, adding more red, green, and blue color grain and making it harder to draw a good key. With a lower ISO, you get less grain, which makes post-production that much easier.