Is something missing from your latest greenscreen production? Look around the set and ask yourself if it’s looking a bit bare. While your focus should be on your on-screen talent and what they have to say, props add something extra to a scene. Props give your actors and speaker something to interact with, break up visual monotony, and more when they’re used wisely. If you’re using a greenscreen, however, there are a few basic rules you need to follow to ensure your props provide the touch of realism—or surrealism—necessary to your scene. Here’s how to make the best use of props on a greenscreen and what they can deliver to your final production.
Why Use Props?
Whether you’re filming a commercial or presentation or simply posing for a professional headshot, props can help tell a story, even in a still image. The word props is short for property and refers to movable objects in a film, video, or stage production that aren’t costumes, scenery, actors, or equipment (e.g., cameras, lighting, microphones, a portable greenscreen kit, et cetera). When filming a corporate explainer video, props could be a wipe board, dry erase markers, a pointer, the product pitched, and other items. Greenscreen video production also allows for props, but they come with their own set of stipulations.
Color and Reflection
Firstly, when picking props for greenscreen productions, take color and reflectivity into account. Unless you intend for them to be invisible or to display whatever image or footage you intend to use for the backdrop, never use green props. Chroma-key-colored gloves, platforms, and coverage can be used to create all sorts of effects, whether they’re funny, magical, or something else entirely. Skip the green part of the spectrum for all other props. Reflectivity should also be avoided. Shiny, silvery, or otherwise mirrored props reflect light, interfere with drawing a good key, and generally make your productions look amateurish and fake.
Use Props Smartly and Sparingly
While props can look cool, give your talent something to do with their hands so you can prevent the video from simply featuring a talking head. Don’t go overboard, though. Too many props can leave a set looking cluttered and can get in your actor’s or spokesperson’s way. Preview the script and determine the maximum number of props you’ll need to get your point across. Decide where they’ll be placed on the set, ensuring the props and talent are at least six to eight feet in front of the cyclorama wall or portable greenscreen kit. Finally, don’t rest props on green surfaces and ensure they’re evenly lit and compatible with the lighting flooding your greenscreen backdrop. This prevents color spill, eliminating the need for additional editing during postproduction. Finally, keep them clean and away from the greenscreen backdrop to prevent potential scuffing and staining.