Green Screen Video Tips

For Fun | Mac | Media
June 14, 2011

I don’t know if you saw the 40 40 40 Angry Birds video I posted yesterday (Watch it HERE), but i wanted to share a few things I learned about shooting a video with a green screen. We worked with Ian at Halfway Bridge making it, so he helped guide us through it, and here’s a few things I learned.

  1. Green Screen Material – there’s really nothing magic about what you use to make your green screen and there are a number of options you can use.  There’s material(which we used), paper, and if you want a permanent setup there’s paint.  If you think it’s something you may be doing often there are kits that come with the material and lights (more on these in a minute).
  2. Smooth – the only magic about your background is you need to make sure it’s smooth.  Our background was folded fabric, so we had to take time to iron it first.  If you are planning a shoot on a schedule, make sure you take this into account.  This is important because folds and creases can interfere in the chroma process you’ll do in your software later (That’s the process of replacing the green background with something else).  Nothing like going through your entire shoot only to find out the footage isn’t going to work.
  3. Lighting – I learned from Ian that this is really the most important part.  Any variations in color interfere in the chroma process. It also helps the subject of the video to really pop from the green background. Making sure the lighting is consistant and even also took a little longer than I expected.  (I was such a rookie).
  4. Wardrobe – Make sure any actors aren’t wearing green.  We had to scrounge up a new shirt for Riley so part of his torso didn’t disappear against the green backdrop.  Lucky we are a bunch of youth workers so there’s always a left over event t-shirt in our office.
  5. Plan the shoot – Make sure you know what you need to shoot.  If you are shooting off a script, make sure you have your shot list written down so you know you’ve got everything you need.  It’s a pain to go through the entire setup twice. If you aren’t sure, shoot it anyway, it’s better than missing the shot.

I also didn’t know you can do green screen editing right in iMovie (Ian was a little more advanced than that), but editing your green screen footage is easier than you may think.  If you’ve never done it before you may want to experiment a little before jumping in.

Here are some ideas for youth group videos with a green screen:

  • Promo: If you are going somewhere put some students or staff in front of a photo or video of where you are going.  You could ham it up and make it really funny.
  • Announcements: make people look like they are in a funny place while they give announcements.  Maybe with a movie in the background and pretend your actors are interacting with the film characters
  • Skits: put just the right background behind a skit you might be doing

There’s probably a bunch of other uses, share yours in the comments.


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