Green screen (also known as chroma key) refers to the visual effects possible through setting up a large and literally green screen behind your subjects or actors, filming them, and replacing the green with images or footage. The color green (or whichever color the screen is—blue screens and other colors are also used on occasion) is cut out in post-production. That leaves a background blank slate the editor can use to add whatever they want. You can add realistic scenery, stunning special effects, floating objects, and more. While often considered a big-budget Hollywood technology, the truth is that even indie filmmakers can make a DIY a green screen at home. Here’s a guide to green screen video production for beginners.
Purchase or Create a Green Screen
First, you’ll need to gather the necessary materials. If it’s within your means, you can find a cyclorama wall for sale, which is the best of all possible situations. Many of them come in green and double as green screens. Or, if you’re on a budget, you could go the DIY route. In this case, you’ll want to buy green posterboard or green cardboard. If you want to create a larger green screen, you’ll need to combine these sheets. You also need to ensure they contain absolutely no creases or tears. For the technology to work, it needs a completely even and smooth surface.
Use Proper Lighting
If you don’t light your green screen (and the actors in front of it), your footage won’t look great. Poor lighting will also lead to editing difficulties. The most efficient way to light your green screen is to use LED lighting inside a studio.
You don’t need a professional studio; any enclosed space will do. Ideally, you want an area where you can control the lighting and audio entirely. That way, you won’t run into any interference or exterior lighting sources.
Wrap a white cloth (such as a T-shirt or blanket) on your primary light to get even lighting. That will “diffuse” the light and create a soft, even light source.
Editing the Footage
The trickiest part of green screen video production for beginners comes during the editing process. This is when you’ll need to add the extra background content. One of the easiest ways is to drag the background image above the green screen footage. Right-click and select Chroma Key to get rid of the green background.
By now, you should have a basic understanding of what it takes to pull off a green screen. You simply need a green-colored board to place behind your actors. You eliminate the green in post-production and add a new background image or video. While this is an overly simplified description of the technology, it’s enough to help you hit the ground running. Good luck!