The Green Screen Effect – TechSmith Tips

Green Screen Effect

TechSmith Tips is a weekly series that will focus on tips in screencasting, video editing, and more. We’ll be breaking down what equipment you’ll need, providing help in common problem areas, and hopefully suggesting a few cool techniques you haven’t even considered.

Each video has a level of difficulty associated with it, so if you’re a new user or an old pro you’ll know where to look for just what you need. Most of the videos will be operating system agnostic but we’ll be sure to mark the video if it’s a PC or Mac specific tip.

This week, we will show you how to pull off the Green Screen Effect.

Green screen, blue screen, chroma key, chroma key compositing. You may have heard of these terms before and they all refer to the same idea. The green screen effect is a post-production technique for compositing (layering) two images or video streams together based on color hues (chroma range). The technique has been used heavily in many fields to remove a background from the subject of a photo or video – particularly the newscasting, motion picture, and video game industries.

To pull off this technique, you will need a couple things. A camera, lights, a green or blue piece of cloth/fabric, and some editing software. Green and blue backgrounds are more commonly used because they differ most distinctly in hue from most human skin colors. It’s important that no part of the subject being filmed or photographed may duplicate a color used in the background. Digital cameras are most sensitive to the green channel, which makes the footage least susceptible to noise and grain, so use that color when you can.

Can’t see the embedded video? Watch it on YouTube.

Lighting is the most important aspect of pulling off the green screen effect. But you don’t need to spend a lot to do so. We use clamp lights that you can get from any local hardware store that cost around $10 apiece. You can find almost any cloth from a local fabric store or a quick google search for a reasonable price. You can find the backdrop we feature in the video here.

Another tip is to keep in mind the color temperature of your lights. Here we are using flourescent lights on the green screen in the back and tungsten lights for our subject. This will help separate your subject from the background even more and help give them a warmer tone. Another thing to keep in mind is reflections off of glasses and individuals with long/frizzy/spiky hair. These things can be tough for the camera to distinguish and can cause problems when editing later.

Next, we hop over to our video editor of choice to key out the green screen footage we shot in the studio. For this example, we are using Camtasia to pull off the green screen effect.

Can’t see the embedded video? Watch it on YouTube.

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