How to Chroma Key (Green Screen)
from start to finish for best results
Green/blue screen shoots are simply used to create custom backgrounds or special effects. When filming with a subject, the process involves filming that subject in front of a solid colour then digitally “keying out” the background colour and adding a background of your choice. Removing the coloured background is also referred to as “chroma keying.”
Chroma keying can actually be done with backgrounds of any colour that are uniform and distinct. Although, green and blue backgrounds are more commonly used as they are neutral colours. When shooting people it won’t match skin tones or natural hair colours, making it easier to key out just the background and leaving the person intact. However, if you’ll have green anywhere then, a blue screen is an alternative.
Our tips for easy chroma-keying and best results
The end result
It’s important to think about the end result before setting up your shot and lighting so that it reflects the final result you are trying to achieve. For example, if you have natural sunlight hitting your subject when shooting but your end result is studio based it will look very unrealistic.
You’ll need a good set of lighting, a camera that preferably films in high resolution and of course a green/blue screen or wall! If you’re starting out and are looking for something reasonably priced, you can find affordable kits on Amazon.
Make sure your screen is well ironed, thick and not see-through. It should be smooth and stretched to length when put up so there are no folds or waves in the cloth.
Lighting your screen properly is important. It’s best to light the screen first, making sure it is evenly lit so the colour is the same throughout. Then place your subject and light them evenly also. If there are any shadows, adjust the lighting until they’re gone.
Make sure there is a good distance between the screen and your subject, about 15 feet. This will help avoid green from appearing on the edges of your subject, casting shadows and will help with the look in the new background that you’ll be adding.
It may sound obvious but remember whatever background colour you’re using shouldn’t be anywhere in the foreground. If you do end up using a blue screen, your subject should not have anything blue on. Avoid even hints of the colour as it can cause a transparent look in the final edit. Also, watch out for mirrored and reflective objects as they can also be an issue.
There is multiple software you can use to remove the coloured background once you’re done shooting, depending on if you’ve shot photos or videos. For video, a great free option is Davinci Resolve and for photos, we like to use photoshop.
These are our tips for the best results with your next project! With these tips in the edit, you should be able to remove the background with one click. It only creates more work if it’s done incorrectly.
If you have any questions or extra tips to add leave them in the comments.