Ever wanted to use a green screen in your video? I have many clients ask me about using green screens. Green screens are ever popular in this day and age, but definitely have a time and a place. In this video, we’re going to talk about when to use one, and when not to use one.
And just to get it out of the way, yes. I am capable of doing green screens and am in front of one now. But I don’t need to be.
Truth is, green screens are fairly easy if you know what you’re doing! They make it easier to set up a shot, easier to light a scene, and can fit in almost any space! So the question becomes, “if you’re good at doing green screens and they’re so easy, why don’t all your videos have them?”
Well let’s first talk about the purpose of chroma keying, or the process of green screens. The first use of chroma keying dated all the way back to 1900s, when filmmakers used black screens to negate the background from windows, but in more recent years, things have gotten a lot more sophisticated. We use green or sometimes blue now as it often stands out from the rest of the colors an editor might want to retain. This effectively lets us combine two objects in one scene that weren’t there originally. It’s the only way I can stand next to myself without actually cloning myself, thank goodness.
The biggest reason I might use a green screen in a professional setting is if I’m not able to easily shoot a client in their natural setting. If my client doesn’t have a physical location or we’re unable to find a location that fits, green screen may be an option.
One issue I’ve found is that a lot of the folks I have in front of a camera aren’t professional actors. They’re business owners. And if being surrounded with camera equipment and lights isn’t enough to make someone uncomfortable, then removing them from their natural environment can do the job. Little things like this can make a big difference in how a message is presented, so that’s another reason I prefer to shoot “naturally” instead of green screen.
Next, for the style of video I typically create for my clients, the background of the video is really important- it’s designed to bring the focus to the presenter and their message, and that’s why a lot of the time you’ll see backgrounds that are out of focus. This is where a lot of beginner videographers may get it wrong. If I use chroma key to put myself in space or sitting on top of the white house or Pikes Peak, though it can be cool, it ends up being more of a distraction than anything else. We’d be better off using a completely plain background to bring the focus back on me.
So in conclusion the best case scenario is shooting “naturally”- it’s where I excel. But if I had to use a green screen, you likely wouldn’t even know it was there in most scenarios, because the background shouldn’t be the subject of the video. The presenter should. If we can find a use case where we can chroma key a presenter in a natural seeming environment, then we have a win.