In this post, we’re going to be looking at how you can create beautiful green screen videos really, really easy. All you need to do is follow the step by step guide presented down below.
We’re going to be talking about what green screen backgrounds to use, what other equipment you will need, what kind of clothing to use.
And lastly but not least how to edit out your green screen background using chroma key and replace it with a nice backdrop.
I know I’ve been getting a lot of queries on this from people that use our video editing services so I thought it would be a good idea to create this article.
Some stats about video content
But before we jump right into it, let’s look at some interesting stats about video content. According to this Forbes article:
- by 2019 video content will represent more than 80% of all internet traffic
- one minute of video is worth a whopping 1.8 million words
- more than 35% of all online ad spending is now going to video ads
- 33% of the time people spend online is dedicated to watching videos
- mobile video watch time doubles year to year
- adding the word ‘video’ to email subject lines can increase CTR by 300%
….and I could go on and on with the stats.
My point is that video content is where your money should be at. Either if you’re representing a business or you are just trying to build your personal brand.
Yes, producing high-quality video content may be more expensive and it may take a whole lot more of your time than writing an article.
But eventually the ROI you get from videos, especially if you keep your costs down, will totally worth the effort of video production and post-production.
When to use green screen videos
Green screen videos work great for static videos.
Videos in which you basically have a single scene of either a person or of a product.
“Talking head” videos are the perfect example. You know that type of video where you have a guy talking to the camera for 20 minutes straight and nothing else happens throughout the entire video?
Another example could be product video reviews. Instead of having your kitchen countertop in the background, you can use a green background. Then when you edit the video add a nice solid color backdrop.
This will make the product stand out and the viewer’s attention will be focused solely on the product, not on something in the background.
So if you are shooting a corporate video, chances are that a green screen will be your next best friend.
Virtual sets are also a common reason for using green screens.
Or maybe you want to take two or more people from different locations and insert them in the same video.
Anyways, there are countless applications of green screen videos.
Oh, and a fun fact. The reason we use green (or blue) as a backdrop is because these two colors are the furthest away from the color of the skin. So it’s much easier to edit out (chroma keying) a green background than any other color.
The green screen background
Obviously, you will need a green or blue background.
There are tons of options here.
You can do it yourself using green construction paper and tape it up your wall, you can simply paint the wall behind you, or you can go out and buy some green fabric.
If you are wondering what shade of green to go for I have a simple answer for you. Pick the one which is the most annoying to look at.
That should work just fine. It’s really important to have your green background nice an tight without any wrinkles in there. Otherwise, you will have a hard time keying it out when you edit your video.
If you are not much of a DIY guy or gal, you can buy cheap, already made green or blue backdrops off Amazon for just $20-$30. Just make sure it’s wide enough for the type of video you are going to film.
What camera to use
Any consumer camera that can shoot in 1080p should be good enough. If you have the option to shot in RAW, that will help you get smoother edges when you chroma key your video.
If you can get your hands on a DSLR, for starters I’d go with a Nikon D3300.
But if you don’t have a budget for it you can use pretty much any kind of digital camera. Including your smartphone.
Use a tripod
I do a lot of video editing and I can tell you that what I hate most is shaky footage.
Green screen videos are most of the times static shots. So if you don’t need to move the camera around, put in on a tripod.
Most video editing software will allow you to add a little bit of stabilization to your footage, but why bother with that when you can fix it in the video production stage.
Shaky footage will make your video look amateurish, so definitely get rid of that right off the bat.
Speaking of tripod and camera, you want to have them placed at around 6 feet away from your subject.
Lighting setup for green screen videos
Lighting plays an important role in videography and photography. And so more so when you use green backgrounds.
If you want to make your life easier later in post-production you want to minimize the amount of shadow on your green screen background. You want the light to be even and spread out really well.
Type of light
If you are using more than one light source (which you should), make sure all lights are of the same type. It doesn’t really matter if you use tungsten or LED or any other kind.
Just be consistent with it. Pick one type and use only that type. Otherwise, you will get a different blending of greens because each different light type will have its own color temperature.
Personally, I like to use LED lights because they are really bright, don’t take up much power and hardly produce any heat.
You want to position your light sources so that you get an even spread of light across your green screen background.
The bigger your green screen is the more lights you will need. Generally speaking, you want to have at least two light sources, one on each side. If needed you can have another light above your green screen.
All lights should be positioned further away from the green screen so that you don’t get that blown out, bright color from your background. The light should have enough room to spread evenly onto the green screen.
For starters, I’d recommend the Cowboy Studio Lighting Kit which is not very expensive and it will work great for a small/home video studio setup.
Light the subject
Keep in mind that you want to light your subject too. Ideally, you want to use separate lights for your green screen background and your subject.
Also, the subject should be as far away as possible from the green screen in order to keep the shadows at a minimum.
For your subject, you want to have a key light (the main light source) and a fill light.
Of course, this is an over-simplified explanation on how to set up your lighting, but it will work really well for the purpose of this article. We’re not shooting for an Oscar after all.
Green screen clothing (what to wear)
Alright, another important aspect to consider is the clothing. Or better yet, the color for your clothing.
Definitely, don’t wear anything green. Nothing with heavy textures, no shiny fabric
Recommended colors are orange, yellow, black, grey, white, blue or purple.
How to edit green screen videos
Alright, so you are done filming and now you are ready to edit out your green screen background and add a cool backdrop. I’m using Adobe Premiere to edit my green screen videos, so here it goes.
Premiere Pro comes with a pretty slick effect called Ultra Key which will allow you to do chroma key edits quick and easy. There are also a ton of different parameters you can tweak in order to adjust your settings.
How to chroma key in Premiere Pro
So once you have your green screen video imported into Premiere Pro, select the video, click Effects, search for Ultra Key. Drag and drop the Ultra Key effect on top of your video in the timeline.
Then go to the Effects tab, scroll down to the Ultra Key section. Output should be set to Composite and then use the Dropper tool to choose the green color from your green screen background.
Once you select the color, the green screen will be edited out and you will have a black background now.
Here’s a great video by Tim Lewis which walks you through how you can edit out a green screen in Adobe Premiere Pro. He’s using a couple of poorly lit green backgrounds as well, so that helps if your lighting setup is not really top notch as well.
How to add a backdrop to your green screen video
Once you keyed out your green screen background you can now replace it with pretty much anything you want.
Use the video track underneath your main video to add whatever background you want to use. It can be a solid color, a still image or another video.
Just drag and drop your media underneath your original video in the timeline are you are done.
Solid colors work great for corporate videos.
If you plan on adding text overlays, lower thirds or any other visual elements on top of your video, it’s a good idea to use a background color which does not interfere with those elements.
White or very bright backdrops work really well for this.
Here’s an example of a green screen video I edited for a client which is heavy on text animations.
Now, the green screen setup they used was pretty decent, but the quality of the recording was not the best. So I actually had to tweak all the Ultra Key parameters quite a lot.
In fact here’s how the green screen backdrop looked like in the original video.
As you can see there are some wrinkles in there and the green screen is not really evenly lit.
But that shows you how powerful the Premiere Pro Ultra Fey effect is.
Alright, so the wrap it all up here’s what you need to remember.
Get the most annoying green background you can find. Make sure it is evenly lit and there are no wrinkles and shadows.
Have your subject well lit as well. Use a key light and a fill light.
Tell your subject to stand far enough from the green screen so that he or she is not casting a shadow on the green backdrop.
Make sure they are not wearing something green or with a lot of rich texture.
The higher the quality of the camera, the better. It will help you get those smooth edges when you edit out the green, in post-production.
I highly recommend using Adobe Premiere Pro, the Ultra Key effect works great, it’s super quick and effective.
Once you’ve chrome keyed the green screen use the video track underneath your main video (inside the timeline) to replace the green screen with your epic backdrop.
So, that’s it! If you really nail down things in production, when you film your video, you will have such an easier and smoother video editing process.
Cristian Stanciu is a freelance video editor, owner, and post-production coordinator of Veedyou Media – a company offering video editing services to videographers, marketing agencies, video production studios, or brands all over the globe.