We all know that some of those movies we see on the big screen don’t take place on location. Especially in recent years, the use of green and blue screens has been a way to transport actors to fantastic locations — either real or fantasy. As a new movie maker or simply a creative looking for some fun, you might ask if getting your own green screen is worth it?
Green screens are always worth it, especially if you’re looking to expand your filmmaking knowledge. They are also great fun ways to boost your creativity on whatever project you find yourself working on. Using a green screen will give your videos a fun quality that makes it worth it.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the fun things you can do and what to keep in mind when purchasing a green screen.
What Exactly Is the Point of a Green Screen?
When you’re taking a video or a picture of someone, but you don’t love your location, using a green screen is a great way to fix that problem. These green screens can make your viewer see anything you want them to see. From Superman flying over Metropolis to your five-year-old staring down a dinosaur — the possibilities are endless.
The purpose of using a green screen comes from the technique known as chroma key compositing. The point of a green screen is to put a solid color background behind your subjects. Green is used because it’s a color that doesn’t show up in human skin. Making it relatively easy for your video software to replace the background with whatever image or video you want to use.
This instantly places your subject into whatever environment you want. If you’re going to be on a beach somewhere, you now have the power to do it with your green screen.
Some Cool Fun Things You Can Do With a Green Screen
What are some of the cool things you can do with a green screen? As stated above, the possibilities are endless. Using a green screen allows you to drop yourself or your actors into whatever situation you want them to be in. Your creativity can soar. Take a look below at the top fun things you can do with a green screen.
Make Yourself or a Body Part Invisible
This is a popular trick to do with a green screen. It allows you to make yourself or a part of your body invisible. A famous example of this is in the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. In the movie, Harry Potter wraps himself in a cloak, and only his head is visible.
To accomplish this, you’ll need two green screens. You’ll wrap the part of you that you want to be invisible in one of the green screens. The other will be used as the background green screen like normal. After that, it’s just a bit of movie magic (and video editing software), and you’ll be able to make yourself invisible on-screen.
In the spirit of Harry Potter, you can purchase a green screen invisibility cloak that is similar to the one in the film. This is a fun little trick that is perfect for Halloween or other instances when a floating head might be appropriate.
Put Yourself Into Impossible Locations
You can use a green screen to put yourself into impossible locations. Like on the side of an active volcano or at the top of Mount Everest. Do you have a video meeting for work? Why not put yourself on a beach and let your co-workers think you’re on some tropical island for the week.
As long as you have a picture of where you want to be, you can replace the green background with the image. You can also use a video here so you can be part of your favorite scenes!
Use Green Screen Picture Frames
If you want to look like you’re holding a portal to another dimension, you can do this easily using a picture frame and a small section of bright green material. This is fun too if you want to have pictures that move in your film, which is something else you’ve probably seen in the Harry Potter saga of films.
All you need to do is attach the green screen to the picture frame, and bam. You can put whatever you want there, and it’ll look like you’re holding it.
Give the Window of Your Car Incredible Views
Just like with the picture frame, you can do something similar to the windows in your car. Place a piece of green screen material on or behind the window. After that, you’ll be able to replace the green background for anything you want.
You can put your car in Jurassic Park or put alien spaceships right outside your car. You can make your car look like it’s driving or even flying through a city or the sky. It’s whatever you want it to be.
Create Clones or Twins
You can make yourself a twin too. You won’t need a body double. All you’ll need is your green screen. Just record yourself in one spot of the room, then change clothes, move to the other side, and start recording.
Once you have the pictures or footage you need to make your clone, you can replace the green screen with the background you need. Use your editing software to merge the two images of yourself, and there you have it. You’ve made yourself a twin!
Make Yourself Fly
This is also a fun way to turn kids (or adults) into superheroes like Superman. You’ll want an image or video of the sky. It can have buildings or nothing but clouds. It’s entirely up to you!
You’ll need a small and sturdy table or backless chair. Cover it with a green screen sheet. Use a second as your backdrop behind you. Use an image of a city or the open sky and take your pictures. Combine this with a fan, and you can look just like Superman flying in the sky.
Ride a Roller Coaster
Do you want to go on a roller coaster but can’t get to one? Now you can turn your living room into an amusement park! Just place two chairs in front of your green screen, and there you have it! Just replace the green background with your favorite ride.
Turn Yourself Into a Ghost
With a green screen, you can make yourself see-through like a ghost. You’ll need some editing software to make this look seamless. It’s a fun effect to add, especially around Halloween!
Check out the video below for the top 5 green screen tricks that you could try!
Things to Keep in Mind When Ordering a Green Screen
There’s a lot to keep in mind when you decide to start using a green screen in your videos. One of the biggest concerns is finding the best one for your needs. There are the frames to hold your screen, and you need to consider lighting. Below you’ll find everything you need to be concerned about when ordering your new green screen.
What Does It Have to Be Made Out Of?
The very best material for a green screen is a cloth fabric that isn’t reflective and is wrinkle resistant. The brighter the green color used, the better. Darker greens will work, but they don’t work as well as bright ones.
Using a vinyl material is also an option, but you’ll want to make sure it has a matte finished. If there’s any gloss on the material, it will ruin the lighting. This will make it hard when you have to edit the green out.
You can also use cardboard or wood for your green screen. This will provide a consistent background, which is great for lighting and makes it easy to swap for your background images. The problem with this is they are bulky and difficult to store.
Learn How to Light Your Green Screen
Lighting is one of the most important parts of making your green screen effects look the most believable. It’s vital to your footage that the lighting is even. You want to make sure that the screen’s lighting is the same as the lighting in the foreground where your film subjects are located. Shadows are your worst enemy when it comes to a green screen.
It helps to keep your green screen material as smooth as possible. Any wrinkles or creases in the fabric will cause the lighting to shift in those areas. If that happens, the footage will be harder to work with when editing the green out.
It’s best to light the subject and background separately. This will allow you to control the balance between the backdrop and the subject. It will keep shadows away and help prevent weird reflections from the green screen from ending up on your subject.
A tip for adjusting your lighting is to look at any shadows you see. This way, you can manipulate the green screen to remove shadows. Please make sure you match your lighting to look the same on the background and the subject.
Keep Your Subject Distanced From the Backdrop
Allow your subject to have some good distance from the green screen. This helps with your lighting, but it also gives your footage more depth once you edit out the green background.
This will also help you to avoid shadows and color spills on your subject. The best distance to try and maintain is six feet. Color spills happen because the light is bounced off the green screen and back onto your subject. The further away they are, the less likely this is going to happen.
Pick the Best Support Systems to Use With a Green Screen
Invest in a good frame or support system for your green screen. There are kits available, but oftentimes the frames that come with them are flimsy. You’re going to want something that holds up to constant movement and won’t fall apart if something accidentally falls.
There are cheap support systems out there, but this is an instance where you get what you pay for. A great frame is roughly going to cost around $40. You can consider getting a Julius Studio Premium Photo and Video Backdrop Stand. It’s a great beginner’s stand, but if you’re looking to break into filmmaking, you’ll want to invest in a more expensive system.
Choose the Best Size
Luckily, you don’t need to have an entirely green room to use this green-screen effect. A 9 to 10 ft cloth will be plenty of material to use for your green screen.
There are benefits to using smaller pieces of green screens. Allowing you to use the effect on smaller things, like an arm. If you see an actor lose their arm in a film, the actor is using a type of green screen effect to hide their body part.
Now, they sell gloves for this purpose. However, if you’re not looking to use this effect as much, it’s possible to do the same thing with just a piece of green screen fabric.
Best Way to Store Your Green Screen
To maintain a smooth surface on your green screen, you’re going to want to roll the fabric before you store it. If the material isn’t crease-resistant, rolling your screen will still cause some wrinkles. However, it’s better than folding it.
Despite this, you can still fold your green screen. Just make sure you do it in a way that reduces the amount of wrinkles.
If you find that you have wrinkles on your green screen, check out the video below for some tips on taking care of them:
Find the Best Editing Software
When choosing the best editing software, you want to pick one that’s just right for your footage. Take a look at what it looks like as a whole and see what you need. Do you have a lot of color spills? Are there a ton of shadows that need to be taken care of? If that’s the case, you might want to opt for more expensive software such as Filmora.
If your footage is relatively clean and not a lot needs to be edited (apart from the green background), you could probably go with cheaper editing software such as VSDC (for Windows) or iMovie (for Apple). These are free software programs that offer some green screen editing capabilities. However, in the instance of iMovie, there is minimal adjustment to be made. You’re at the mercy of the program and aren’t able to manipulate as much.
Avoid Reflective Materials in the Shot
Similar to avoiding reflective material when choosing your green screen. If you have anything reflective in the shot, it will end up with some green on it. This means big earrings, metallic objects, and glossy surfaces. It’s best to use things with a matte finish.
In addition to that, avoid plants in shots used with a green screen. Otherwise, when you edit out the green, the software will edit out the plants’ green. Unless you’re looking to have a plant shaped like the background of your photoshoot, it’s best to avoid them altogether.
Green Screen vs. Blue Screen
You might be wondering if you need a blue screen instead of a green screen. After all, major movie productions use blue screens as well as green screens. What’s the point of a blue screen if a green screen works just as well?
A blue screen has a smaller grain on film, which means it’s much easier to edit out. However, a green screen doesn’t need as much light during filming or a photoshoot. This means it’s going to be a cheaper option for you.
It’s harder to edit out the reflected light it projects onto your actors or models with a green screen. Blue screens are great because they don’t project as much reflected light. Meaning, there won’t be as much color spill around hair and metallic objects.
Ultimately, the decision between blue or green will depend on your budget and the project you’re working on. It’s safe to say that a green screen will be a perfect addition to your toolkit if you’re starting.
Whether you’re a newbie filmmaker, or just someone looking to spice up their home photos, a green screen is a great option to add some flare. You won’t be disappointed with the cool things you can do, and you’ll see your creativity skyrocket as you come up with new ways to use the green screen. Hopefully, this article has proven that green screens are always worth the investment.
My Current Video Editing Setup and Favorite Products
Apple MacBook Air M1 512GB Ram (Waiting for the new 16in pro)
LG 27MK400H-B Full HD Monitor with FreeSync 27″ (I literally have 4 of these)
Razer Holiday Bundle Cynosa Chroma Gaming Keyboard, Abyssus Gaming Mouse, Goliathus Chroma Mousepad
KTRIO Large Gaming Mouse Pad with Stitched Edges
Panasonic LUMIX G7 Digital Camera – Great Entry Camera for Shooting and Streaming
Neewer Ring Light Kit — A Must Have
Emart Green Screen Backdrop with Stand Kit – Affordable and Lots of Uses!
Elgato Stream Deck Mini – I only need the 6 keys
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- Wikipedia: Chroma key
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- Owlcation: How to Become Invisible on Camera Using Invisibility Video Effects—Expert Results
- IMDb: Parent Trap
- YouTube: Top 5 Green Screen Tricks
- Ally Shaver: Film Criticism: The Parent Trap
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- Tech Learning: Go On Incredibly Fun Learning Adventures With These Amazing Green Screen Ideas!
- Media College: Green Screen Material
- ShutterStock: 6 Key Factors When Choosing a Green Screen Background
- In Focus Film School: Filming with Green Screen: Everything You Need to Know
- Steve’s Digicams: Chroma Key Effects: Making an Invisible Man
- No Film School: 10 Tips That Will Help You Green Screen like a Champion
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- ZDNet: How to build a temporary green screen YouTube studio
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- YouTube: GREEN SCREEN and BACK DROP WRINKLES? These Will Help! Basic Filmmaker Ep 176
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- B&H Photo Video: Gear to Get You Started Green-Screening
- Video Soft Dev: VSDC
- Filmora: Homepage
- Cool Tools for School: Thing 25: Green Screen Fun
- New York Film Academy: How To Create A Green Screen On A Budget
- Wikipedia: Superman
- Wikipedia: Metropolis (comics)
- Wikipedia: Mount Everest
- Wikipedia: Jurassic Park
- Wikipedia: Lindsay Lohan
- Apple: iMovie