Written by 1:56 pm Streaming & Vlogging, Videography

How to Green Screen from Home

How to set up, light, and position yourself for an easy green screen session at home – whether you’re doing a special effects video or just using Zoom.

Green screen in garage

Whether you’re at home trying to key yourself out of a background or you’re a small production company trying to save money, shooting on green screens is a fun and practical way to creatively get around the problems of shooting on location – such as your messy bedroom or unfinished garage. Here are some tips to help you use what you have to pull off a successful green screen shoot from just about anywhere.

Setting Up Your Green Screen

If you have a small green screen kit hanging from a backdrop stand, make sure the screen is as taught and flat as possible. You may need to even steam out your screen. Having creases or folds that create shadows or slight changes in the uniformity of color will make keying more difficult. If your screen isn’t sewn to a tension loop, you can toss it into the dryer.

Green screen being tied to a stand in a garage

Our large green screens are of a very heavy material that resists wrinkles and creasing but because they are being shipped, they end up coming out less than perfect and may need to be stretched out for a night and steamed.

Lighting a Green Screen

One of the biggest challenges with green screens is lighting your screen correctly. Make sure that the light is even across the whole screen. Like with the creases, you want to avoid shadows. Light the screen from every direction possible.  If there are any hot spots or shadows caused by your lights being too close to the screen, then march them back a bit until it starts looking even again. Ideally, you want the green screen to be just a tad brighter than how you’ll be lighting yourself.

Green screen being set up with tube lighting on all sides

Whether you’re using really nice LED tube lighting or cheap garage lights, just make sure they are the same temperature, brightness, and are mounted on all possible sides of the screen.

Avoid Green Spill

You want to stand or sit a few feet away from the screen to avoid any spill bouncing off of the screen onto you. That is what’s happening when it looks like someone is outlined by a haze.

Example of standing too close to green screen

When you see weird outlines and artifacts like this, it means you’re standing too close to your screen and getting spill. This isn’t a big deal if you’re just on Zoom but it can be really obvious on large screens.

Example of standing at correct distance from green screen

You may still get a tiny bit of outline action even when standing at the correct distance but this looks much more realistic than before.

How to Light Yourself

How you want o light yourself will depend on the style of the scene you’ll be keying in. If you’re at the beach, you might want to use a warmer key light. Regardless, having a hair light will help make you pop against the background. But if you’re just sitting at a desk, then 1 simple light in front and slightly above eye level should work.

For a very lo-fi approach, you can get yourself some blue or green poster board from an office supply store and tape it to the wall. Use a couple of lamps to light it evenly from both sides. Sit in front of it but not too closely. Lastly, light yourself. The cameras built into laptops and phones are pretty wide, so you might need at least 4 poster panels to actually fill the view.

Why Green or Blue?

The reason why blue and green are used for this is because they sit at the opposite ends of red and orange – the colors most commonly found in various skin tones. Usually you won’t be wearing both green and blue clothing. If you are wearing one or the other, pick the opposite for keying. Blue tends to spill less but takes more light to look right. Green tends to perform better for daylight keying, or daylight-looking scenes. Blue is better for night/night-looking scenes.

Blue poster board on wall of kitchen with lamps and a cameraman

Craft paper or poster board is an affordable way to quickly chroma key yourself on Zoom.

See all of this in action in our instructional video below! Also, we have green screens to rent – a huge 12′ blue/green Matthews chroma screen and a more portable 5 x 7 Westcott green screen kit.

Tags: Last modified: June 1, 2020
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