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How I improved my green screen setup with some easy steps

I have been trying to take my green screen game to the next level for a while and last night I found the ultimate guide so I thought I would share it. If you are having issues getting good effects with your green screen, take a look at this video (it is not mine). If you think your green screen is really good, I'm sure there's a tip for you in here too! This is the best video I have seen on this subject and I have looked at a lot of them! https://youtu.be/OH8TWTt51W8

 

Here are some takeaways: 

  • Most green screen issues are because of lighting, namely "hot spots" (too much light in one location. Think about green screen lighting separately from the subject (you) lighting. Light up your green screen with bank lights (tall vertical lights) and not spotlights. Here's a video from the same author showing you how to make bank lights for cheap. I will be making those in the next few days and report: https://youtu.be/BpOakYp-gJ4
  • Use an app (iPad, $10) to determine if your screen is evenly lit. Naked eye doesn't cut it. 
  • Stay away from the screen so you don't cast a shadow (6-9 feet). 
  • Smooth out your green screen (by stretching it or steaming it)
  • Use a backlight (hair light) to pull your subject from the screen (so it doesn't look "flat"). 
  • Light your subject a little brighter than your screen (see video for details). 
  • Don't wear green clothes or clothes with green in it. 
  • Blur your background (low f/stop on your camera if you can control that, around f/5.6). 
  • Remove motion blur (slightly higher shutter speed, see video for details). 
  • Frame your shot correctly so the green screen covers all your movements. 
  • Be careful if you have a monitor in front of you connected to your camera as it will reflect green light on you. The trick is to change your saturation to zero to make the screen black and white (love this tip!). 
  • Get good lighting for your subject (after lighting your green screen). 

Later this week I will be shuffling my studio to apply some of those tips and will keep you posted on the results. I hope this helps someone! Share your green screen tips if you have any that are not on the list. 

 

 

@LawrenceMMiller: Greg,

 

A couple suggestions on this. I worked a lot on this issue and watched a number of good YouTube videos (just search "green screen"). 

 

It is usually recommend that you stand eight to ten feet in front of your green screen, rather than two or three feet in order to reduce the chance of shadows. 

 

About the f.stop on your lens: I would not try to blur the background, that background being the green screen. If you are using a green screen then you can insert a photo as background, that is blured. I recommend that your f.stop be at least 5.6 otherwise your depth of field may cause you to be out of focus with just leaning forward or back. If you are down to around f.2.0 your nose and your ear will be out of focus if one is in focus. The more depth of field (higher f.stop) the less chance of being out of focus. Of course, the more light you have, the higher you can move the f.stop.

 

 

*** I wanted to give an update on this topic because it took me a long time to get what I think is the proper setup. I'm sharing this in hope that someone else can find it useful and not have to experiment as I did. ***
I'll start with what I did for my very first Udemy course. I went to Joan's fabric to get the greenest and most neon looking big piece of fabric I could find. Then I hung it behind my desk. Then I put a lot of lights on my desk lighting up my face and lighting up my green screen (both from the same location... mistake). The lights were those Home Depot $8 metallic light bulb holders that you can clamp on things. Cheap! I got some 60W and 100W light bulbs, not sure what color temperature they were but here's what I got: something that was hard to white balance and to key! I look at this and I cringe now, the green screen is yellow, has tons of shadows, wrinkles. My face has weird nose shadows, a bad hue, etc...
I made it work though, this is the course that still brings me the most money each month, is best seller and best rated (at 4.6). I am in the process of reshooting this course as explained in this thread. Students never complained about the quality of the course production, not once! 


original-green.jpgoriginal-background.jpg

 

Then I thought I'd study green screens a little... I started making money on Udemy and taking this more seriously. I had a big course to record (35 hours of content) so I took over our guest bedroom, stretched a green screen on the wall, put the camera on a tripod, put some lights on me, some lights on the green screen, it was looking a little better. Here's a picture of the mess. I had to shoot in a corner because the distance was too short from the camera to me (the camera is hidden in the very right corner, behind a home made teleprompter)... 
56192647232__9D6752DE-63A8-42F6-A64E-C076556C27CE.jpg

The screen was the same as earlier, the lights were the same too. I was able to better light my face and remove some shadows and I started using a grey card for white balance. I also started using a better camera (Panasonic GH5 vs DJI Osmo). Here's what I got out of it. 

second attempt-green.jpgsecond attempt-background.jpg

The screen is unevenly lit, which results in difficulties with keying but with the limited space, that's really all I could do. The lights are in the frame so they had to be cropped out and masked, which works since I don't do large arm movements. This was a big improvement from before, easier to white balance since I used a card and a custom white balance on my camera but I knew the green screen lighting could improve. 

 

So I did more research, found the cool tutorials I shared above and decided to start with my studio (guest bedroom) from scratch.

  1. I got a new green screen. The main difference is that it's much larger than the old one. It's also much darker green and less neon. That helps with keying.
  2. I got some studio lights (came with the green screen).
  3. I also built 2 box lights out of fluorescent lights. Those are for lighting my screen. I bought T8 lights that are 5000K in color temperature for the green screen.

The problem is that the studio lights came with 2500K lights. So while my green screen was lit correctly, the difference in temperature created issues (notice how teal the green is). When I did my white balance correctly using the card near my face (based on 2500K lights), some of the 5000K lights from the background reflected on my shoulders and head, creating a purple hue. This is what the result looked like (those are noise canceling headphones on my head): 

new-studio-old-light-green.jpgnew-studio-old-light-background.jpg

 

I couldn't really white balance my face properly without having weird purple colors on my shoulders. So I went back to home depot and bought 9 LED lights that were 5000K (much cheaper than buying 8 T8 fluorescent lights in 2500K). The idea was to have the same exact light temperature everywhere. This really solved the issue! I set up my white balance at 5000K in the camera and here are the results: 

new attempt-green.jpgnew attempt-background.jpg

Test new studio.jpg

Now my entire body is lit correctly with the same color temperature. No more purple shoulders. I also used a 3-point lighting setup with a key light (brightest part of my face, left side), a fill light (softer than key, create a light shadow on my right side) and a back light (light shine on my hair and shoulders, giving depth), which looks more inviting.

For reference: 

  • My key light is 4x 60W LED bulbs, with a white diffuser in front of it, located about 45 degrees from my face, a little higher than eye level
  • My fill light is 1x 60W LED bulb, with a white diffuser in front of it, located about 45 degrees from my face, a little higher than eye level
  • My hair light is 1x60W LED bulb with a diffuser, on top and slightly behind my head, with a dimmer on it (dimmed about 50%)
  • My green screen is lit with 2 homemade box lights, each has 4x T8 fluorescent lights, with a little reflector (high tech piece of cardboard) so their light doesn't hit me. I also have another light at the bottom to remote hot spots. I used the Green Screener iPad app ($9.99 on iOS) to make sure I didn't have any hot/dark spots on my screen, which are mostly invisible to the naked eye. The result is an amazing keying that doesn't need any tweaking. 

My camera is set at ISO 400 (native ISO for the GH5), 1/60 shutter (shooting in 4K/30fps), f/5.6 aperture, with a custom white balance of 5000K. 

Here's a quick video walk around of my setup so you can see it in action (yes this is a guest bedroom so the bed is sideways on its side). Note that I am missing a rug in there to absorb some of the echoes. I hope this helps someone save some time if they need help with green screening! 

 

And finally, this is me right before I said: "Look, I'm Harry Potter. "
harry potter.jpg

 

Author:

@GregReverdiau