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A Beginner’s Guide to Using Chroma Key Green Screens for Videos

7 Minute Read

 

If you’re a beginner to chroma key videography, then you may be wondering how to use a green screen, or why you may need one.

A chroma key green screen background is used as a backdrop in video and photography. They enable you to separate the subject from the background and replace that green screen with a new background. 

Green screen video is popular among YouTubers for videos, pro gamers for their live streams, and videographers/social media influencers for skits.

If you are wondering how to create a green screen video, or how does a green screen work, then we’re going to do a walkthrough of everything green screen.

What is a Green Screen and How Does a Green Screen Work? 


If you’ve ever watched a superhero movie where they fly through the sky or scale huge buildings, then you’ve seen a chroma key green screen at work. Many TV shows and films rely on a green screen to create special effects and virtual backgrounds.

It’s called a green screen for a simple reason - it’s a large backdrop screen that is green! It’s part of a process that is known as chroma key. This process allows TV producers and filmmakers to superimpose their subjects on any kind of virtual background, so the possibilities are endless.

Chroma keying singles out a particular color in an electronic image (usually the green screen), and special software then make that color transparent to allow any background you choose to show through where the green screen was.

Green tends to be the popular color of choice for chroma key backgrounds because it generally has a lot of contrast with the subject’s skin and clothes. This makes it easier to isolate only the green color to make it transparent.

Which Green Screen is Right for Me?

There are different options for green screen backdrops, so you need to choose the one that is right for you and the kind of video you want to create. 

Green Seamless Paper Backdrops

green paper seamless backdrop

Seamless paper backdrops are popular with both video creators and photographers because they are easy to set up, and seam and wrinkle-free.

If you are using props or filming a messy video, paper backdrops are ideal because you can cut the soiled paper off, recycle it, and then pull out another fresh, clean layer. When you run out of paper, just buy another roll.

Seamless paper comes in rolls of half-size paper for those who don’t have a lot of space, like our Spectrum Chroma Key Green Non-Reflective Half Paper Roll Backdrop (1.36 x 10M), and full-width, like our Spectrum Non-Reflective Video Paper Roll Backdrop (2.7 x 10M) - Chroma Key Green.

Green Cotton Muslins

chroma key green muslins

Cotton muslins like the
Spectrum Chroma Key Green 3m x 6m background muslin are reusable, so are a good long-term solution. They’re great for Twitch streamers, who want to block out their background, but they’re not the best choice for those who want to do messy shoots as they will need washing afterward. 

Although they take up less storage room than paper rolls, the fabric finish means that they tend to crease up when stored folded - they then need to have the creases steamed out before using in a photoshoot.

 

Green/Blue Double-Sided Collapsible Backdrop

chroma key blue/green double sided collapsible backdrop

A collapsible pop-up double-sided backdrop like the
Large Chroma Key Green / Blue Double Sided Pop Up Backdrop (1.5 x 2.1M) is great for quick set-up and easy storage. It’s good for streamers, but it doesn’t have enough surface area if you want to use it for full-sized videos.


chroma key blue/green double sided collapsible backdrop

Chroma key blue screens, on the other hand, are used as an alternative to green screens because some find them easier to colour correct. Another pro is that blue screens have less colour spill compared to green screens. When you watch green screen videos, you might notice a green tinge on the edges of the subject, even if the background is totally different - that is called 'colour spill'. 

However, blue screens require more lighting because they have a lower luminance value so it doesn't reflect as much light as a green colour would. This makes blue screens good for darker scenes or darker environments.

 

Chroma Key Green Pull Up Backdrop

'Live Stream Master' Pull-up Retractable Green Screen

Lastly, green screen pull-up backdrops like the 'Live Stream Master' Pull Up Chroma Key Green Screen Backdrop for Video are a go-to for many twitch streamers because of how easy they are to set up and pack down after use. Its retractable design means all you have to do is pull it up when it's time to start your streams and retract it into its hard protective case once you're done for easy storage. Simple as that! 

'Live Stream Master' Pull-up Retractable Green Screen

The 'Live Stream Master' Pull Up Chroma Key Green Screen Backdrop for Video also measures at about 1.48m x 2.1m, which gives you plenty of room for seated, half-body or full-body shots (depending on your subject's height). So if you're streaming/filming in a small space, then this would be the best option for you.

Which Lighting Can I Use with My Green Screen?

Choosing the right lighting setup for your green screen background is also important, and again, there are different types to choose from.

Kit Lighting

twitch kit green screen and ring light kit

Our
Twitch Kit has everything you need to get started, including a green chroma key cotton muslin backdrop, peg clamps, heavy-duty backdrop stand, and a 14” Mini Pearl Ring Light.
 

Ring Lights

spectrum aurora mini pearl ii ring light

Ring lighting is a very common and popular choice among social media influencers, twitch streamers and YouTubers. The ring-shape of the bulb gives out a soft and even light on faces, and is great for filming in poorly-lit areas. 

Have a look at our full ring light range that includes ring lights of different sizes, from the 19” Gold Luxe II to the 14” Mini Pearl.

Softboxes
spectrum illuminate mate softbox lighting kit

A popular option with photographers as well as video creators, softboxes give a soft, even light on your subject. Our Illuminate Mate Double Rectangle Softbox Lighting Kit comes with two softbox lights to give you ultimate flexibility in light placement.

Conclusion

spectrum crystal luxe duo led side lights and green paper backdrop

We’ve looked at what green screen backdrops are, types of backdrops, and different lighting options, so hopefully, this article has been of some help to you. 

If you are thinking of trying out green screen video, then here are a few extra tips for you:

  • Make a plan before you start shooting to avoid wasting time. Having a plan will also help you to remember everything you need to do.
  • Set up your studio before you start. Your subject needs to be positioned as far away from the background as possible while still fully on it so that you get a good separation of subject and background. This makes it easier to edit later on.
  • Be patient. You won’t make an ideal video the first time you try, but you’ll get better with practice.
  • When shooting with green screen backgrounds, make sure your subject stays fully in front of the green screen. Any body parts that don’t have the green screen background will have a different one that chroma key software won’t be able to remove.
  • Do some research on finding green screen software to edit your videos in. Many of them are made with beginners in mind, and allow you to quickly replace your backgrounds.

If you are thinking of starting a YouTuber channel or Twitch Live, why not take a look at some more of our tips here?

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