You’ve recently purchased a portable green screen background and you’re ready to rock your latest business presentation, school project, or other type of video. Now what? If you don’t know the first thing about setting up and shooting with a green screen, don’t fret—it’s easier than you think. Here are several considerations to ponder when setting up a green screen.
Put It in Position and Clean It Up
Green screens come in all shapes and sizes. If you’ve painted a wall in your home or office, you’ve done most of the work already, of course. Still, take time to clean up the wall, wiping it down and touching up any places where the paint has chipped, flaked, or grown thin. If you’re using a portable green screen background, set it up according to the instructions. If the background is fabric, use a steamer or iron to remove wrinkles, and if it is a plastic fleece material, keep the heat at a moderate level. Run a lint brush over the screen as well to keep it neat.
Light It Up
Lighting is one the most important elements of filming with a green screen, if not the most important. If you’re on a budget, you can get away with two lights—one for the background and one for the talent or subject you’re shooting. However, the more lights, the better. Flood the background with enough light to ensure even coverage and eliminate shadows. Look out for hot spots, too—places where the light is too concentrated. Taking care of these issues will ensure you get a good key, making postproduction a breeze.
On Your Marks
When setting up the green screen, be sure you leave enough room for your subjects to move, posture, act, and so forth. Have them stand about six to ten feet in front of the screen so that they won’t cast shadows on it. As mentioned, shadows will make it harder to get the effects you’re looking for in postproduction. By standing at a slight distance from the screen, you will also prevent “green spill,” which happens when the light reflects off the screen and bathes your subjects in green. This is especially common if the screen is on the floor as well as the wall. Again, this will mess up your key and result in your subject or talent being covered with whatever you “project” onto the screen.
Tips and Tricks
Here are a few extra considerations when setting up a green screen. First, always ensure your talent wears nothing green or reflective. Both will interfere with the shot and require extra work to fix in postproduction, if not an entire series of reshoots. Also, have them wear colors that stand out and contrast with each other for greater definition. Finally, always shoot some test footage before starting the actual shoot and review it to ensure you’re getting the effect you want.