setting up a green screen

Setting Up a Green Screen 10 Top Tips

Green Screening is an amazing way to create videos, but, green screening can be a challenging process if you are just starting out, setting up a green screen correctly will help you achieve great results.

Green Screen videos are becoming much more popular even for the smallest video producers, you may have a YouTube channel, create advertisments to promote a product or simply make funny videos to share on Social media.

Green screening can be done almost anywhere! many videos are created in spare rooms at home and not in a large studio.

Setting up a green screen the correct way helps you get the footage that you are looking for, but most importantly it makes editing your footage in post production much easier.

Table of Contents

Tip One - Position

Before setting up a green screen you need to make sure that it is positioned correctly within a room or studio, think about the video shoot that you are going to take.

The video you are taking may be a small object in which case your camera can be closer to the screen, but if you are taking video of a person you will need more distance from the screen to the camera.

Try not to position your screen in front of a window as this will cause you problems with light showing through the screen, If you have to position in front of a window close the curtains or blinds, if there is still light showing hang a dark cloth behind the screen.

Some Green Screen Kits come with green, black and white screens, the black screen could be used behind your green screen to achieve this.

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Tip Two - Screen Stand

Having a good quality screen stand is important but not essential, If you are just starting out you could simply hang your screen from a curtain pole, record at night to eliminate back-lighting issues (see Tip 1).

When choosing a screen stand, think about the videos you want to create, make sure the stand is wide enough and high enough to easily allow you to take your footage.

Most stands come in different sizes but the larger stands are adjustable for height and width allowing you to shoot lots of different types of footage for your projects.

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Tip 3 - Keeping your Green Screen Flat

When setting up a green screen it is important to eliminate shadows, having a loosely hung screen will cause you problems in the post edit of your footage.

Creases and ripples in the cloth need to be removed for best results.

To achieve this, a green screen stand like the ones mentioned above will make this much easier.

If your stand has height adjusters always make sure they are facing the rear of your screen, this will help stop unwated creases appearing on your screen surface.

Starting from the top centre – clip the screen along the top pole keeping the screen as tight as possible and then do the same on the other side.

Once your screen is clipped all the way along the top bar, start to clip down the side poles from top to bottom again by putting slight tension on the screen as you go.

Once all the clips are in place hopefully the screen will look good, for fine adjustments try rotating the clips away from the screen to increase tension.

Clips are the best way to hold your screen so the more clips you have the easier it will be to keep the screen flat.

Should your screen become damaged at anytime, either ripped or dented replace it with a new cloth, always store your screen carefully, fold lightly so that no hard creases develop, don’t place other items on top of your screen in storage.

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Tip 4 - Green Screen Height

Green screen height can be determined by the subject you are going to video, If you are taking footage of a person from the waist up, then the height of the screen will need to be high enough to get the subjects head to below the waist, a standard screen drop from your stands top rail to the floor will be fine.

However if you are recording a full length person, maybe acting a scene or similar then the height of your screen is important.

To record a full person head to toe and allow for movement, will require the screen to hang from the stands above head height but also drape across the floor under the subjects feet, also allow for movement in the scene sideways and forward motion.

This type of video footage will require a larger screen! but you can also achieve great results if you have to use a smaller screen by making mulitple scenes of smaller movements and editing them together giving the illusion of more movement.

Tip 5 - Lighting a Green Screen

Lighting a green screen correctly can be tricky, but having said that I have taken green screen footage in the past with virtually no lighting at all!

For best results think about your screen and your subject as two seperate lighting issues.

Firstly concentrate on lighting the green screen itself, to do this you need difused lighting or soft box lighting, for most green screens you will need at least two of these.

Light up your screen and move your lighting each side of the screen to create the most even lighting across the screen as possible, in most cases this will be approxamately 3 feet away from the screen.

Watch out for bright spots these will cause you problems in post editing, this proccess will create an even light over the screen cloth and will help eliminate shadows.

These lights need to be behind the subject and not throwing light onto the subject.

Now the green screen is lit up correctly lets concentrate on your subject.

Set up two more lights on each side of the subject, if you have a tall stand you can mount a single light above the subject to get good results.

This process will illiminate shadows from your subject, It may be neccessary to play around with distances to get the best results for your shoot.

For larger greenscreening simply use more lighting but make sure any lighting is illuminating evenly on your screen.

See Example Below

green screen lighting set up

Soft box lighting can be purchased as part of a green screening kit or bought individually the following products are available from Amazon and would work perfectly for setting up a green screen shoot.

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Tip 6 - Positioning your subject

Positioning your subject is key to creating a great piece of footage.

Your subject should be as far away from the screen as possible in the work area, this will reduce the risk of shadows onto the screen.

Position your camera or smart phone preferably mounted on a tripod at a distance that allows you to only view green in your preview window.

green screen camera view 1

Next it will be necessary to take a demo shoot of your subject and review it.

Should you find your subject is moving outside your preview window, reposition your camera further away from the green screen or nearer according to your result.

Do not use zoom on your camera if you do not need to, this will lower the video quality for your production.

If movement is needed reposition your subject lighting accordingly.

Tip 7 - What Camera should I use?

The camera that you use to shoot your footage can be anything from a smartphone to a high end video camera or DSLR.

Better results will be achieved by using HD footage and the more pixels the better.

Cameras vary quite alot with regards to settings, I would advise your settings are as natural as possible any editing to brightness or contrast can be achieved in post production with the software you use with editing your footage.

Always try to shoot your footage in landscape and not portrait this will make video editing much easier.

Great Camera Choices

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When your just starting out with green screening particularly if filming at home, simply practice with your smart phone, create a few short film clips to go through the process of capturing the green screen footage.

It will soon become apparent if you think its neccessary to upgrade your camera.

With today’s technology a simple smart phone can have better video quality than a budget DSLR camera.

All you need is good quality footage to be able to record your video projects.

Tip 8 - Recording Sound

In many cases a recording mic in your video camera will be good quality, but as your recording device moves further away from the subject, your sound recording wil be more in the distance, this may not sound great in your footage.

This can be edited to sound better in post production, but with some simple gadgets you can easily bring your mic a closer to the subject.

There are extension microphones that will fit into most cameras allowing you to do this, there are even microphones designed for smartphones.

If you are recording a presentation for example, an extion microphone located closer to you but out of shot, will work better than trying to project your voice across a room.

If you are recording an action scene where a lot of movement is a factor, you may consider getting yourself a wireless lapel mic.

A lapel mic can work well if for example, you turn your head away from camera fairly often in your production.

See some examples below

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Remember when setting up a green screen video shoot, make sure there are no background noises that will interfere with your recording.

Turn off your washing machine, fish tank and television, also if there are people talking in the background, let them know you are taking a video and ask them to be quiet.

It can be frustrating to get the perfect footage spoilt by a background noise that you had not considered.

Tip 9 - Choosing the right camera mount

Greenscreening can be used for many different applications, short video clips, product promotions or live streaming.

Choosing the right camera mount for your camera can help when it comes to creating your footage.

If filming on a large screen then a standard Tripod will be sufficient, but if you are filming a small product then something much smaller might be a better option.

Firstly lets look at tripods they come in many different sizes.

A full size tripod is the most common, I would recommend you have one with swivel and tilt functionality at the top.

A desktop tripod is also a handy tool to have, it is easily manouverable for smaller green screen shoots, they often come with bendy legs so you can manipulate the position of your camera with ease.

This type of tripod is great for recording you in an office chair with the green screen behind you, why have a messy room behind you when you could be in a Palace or Castle!

See examples below of both types of tripod

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Another type of camera mount to consider is a desk top mount, this type of mount simply clamps onto a desk or table, very handy if you are limited for space simply clamp it to the piece of furniture that would normally be in your way.

See a smartphone version below

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Tip 10 - Filming Your Shoot

Before filming your shoot, make some notes about each piece of footage you want to take.

It is so easy to get everything set up perfectly, but forget some of the footage you originally wanted to take.

Think about the backgrounds that will be added in post production, make notes about what clothing you are going to wear if a scene should change, its no good being on a ranch in a chefs outfit and wearing a coboy hat and spurs in a kitchen for example.

Take note of any props you may want to include in your footage making sure they have no green content which will dissapear when editing, have a copy of the text you may want to say, a whiteboard is good for this alongside your camera with all your words on, this saves alot of em’s and are’s when recording.

Making notes about what you are trying to achieve, it will save you lots of time when it comes to filming.

Have Fun! Setting up a Green screen

I hope you found these tips useful for setting up a green screen, the key thing to remember is that all you need is good footage and quality sound to be able to edit your videos in your software.

If you have to cut corners because of budget, don’t worry! just try to do the best you can with what you have and enjoy greenscreening.

If you found this article about setting up a green screen useful, please leave a comment below. Let me know about your experiences when greenscreening.

Thank you for reading setting up a green screen 10 top tips.

Take a look at Green Screen Video Productions Buyers Guides find excellent equipment and tools for setting up a green screen filming project.

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