Using a Green Screen

Green Screens (or blue screens) are everywhere. They can be found in big budget Hollywood block-busters to show elaborate out-of-this-world landscapes or on your local News to deliver the weekend’s forecast. Green Screens are great and they really allow you the freedom to create almost anything.

Why use a Green Screen?

The Simple Answer – replace the background with anything you want. But you don’t want to get too carried away. Just because you can replace the background with anything doesn’t mean you should. Putting your subject in the middle of the african savannah or on the moon may come off as a little over-zealous. Green Screen has a bad association with cheesy 80’s sci-fi movies that play on cable TV at 2 in the morning.

It’s like she’s really there… 

So using a green screen may not  be the best option for a simple sit down interview in someone’s house. Or it may be the only option when you need an interview to take place in 5 different locations in less than 5 hours.

 

So let’s get down to it. What are the Pro’s and Cons of using a Green Screen?

 

Pro’s – Flexibility, creativity, Portability.

Flexibility – You can place your subject into any environment or background and get the most out of the shot.  Green Screen makes it incredibly easy to revisit and update your projects with new backgrounds or company logo’s.

Creativity – You can incorporate your company’s identity with logo’s, style or color schemes into the background.

Portability – All you need is a big room, green screen and lights. The set up can be brought to your office or to another locations. Nothing needs to be built and you don’t need to travel anywhere.

Here’s the Render Crew setting up our Green Screen.

 

But you can’t have the good without the bad….

 

Cons – Increased Cost, Need for professional lighting and guidance, Large space to shoot in.

Increased Cost – It takes time to properly light and set up a Green Screen during productions. Plus a significant amount of time is added to post in order to take out the green and replace it with your desired background.

Need for Professional Lighting and Guidance – It all comes down to the lighting. Green screen is tricky. The screen needs to be evenly lit so it’s all green and no shadows.  Plus your subject needs lighting too. At bare-minimum the project needs at least 5 lights.

 

Don’t do this….

Large Space to Shoot in  – And not everyone has that. But you’ll need it if you want a good shot. You honestly need a lot of room to properly light the actual green screen and make sure your subject is far enough away from it so that green doesn’t reflect on them and that they don’t create shadow on the background.

 

So is using a Green Screen a good option for your video?

Well that depends on your style of video and what kind of background you need (or want). Take into consideration the things covered in post and see if your budget can support. Green Screens are awesome and allow for creativity to shine. But they require a lot of work and attention to detail.