How Do I Shoot For Green Screen?

How do i shoot green screen image
When I sat down 11 years ago to write the first blog here in our Manchester studio it seemed obvious that it should be about green screen video production.  At the time green screen for video production was in its infancy and EVERYONE wanted to know from us, as pioneers, what the best method of achieving excellent chromakey results was.  So I set about writing a list of ingredients, ideal scenarios if you will. Yet a few years ago I deleted the blog; “everyone knows about green screen” I thought and that was that. Yet really the principles that define a good key are just as relevant now as they were then.

Rather than slavishly copy that blog (which would save me time and sore typing fingers) I’d prefer to reevaluate how one achieves the best green screen outcome. In this 4 part blog, I’ll look at resolution, lighting (including types of light; LED, Fluorescent and Tungsten and Daylight) as well as composition and a final checklist of what you need for truly stellar chromakey results.  Not just here in our Manchester hire studio but in your own green screen video productions.

Back when we opened the hire studio in Manchester it was the dark, dark days of SD.  Standard Definition was 720 lines by 576 (PAL format as it was). Nowadays video production company’s film on HD (1920 x 1080), UHD (3840 x 2160),4k (4096 × 2160) and now 8k (20 gazillion pixels x an infinite amount).  All those additional lines of information mean getting a clean key is easier than ever.  The improvement in chips, the better colour reproduction and the growth of 4:4:4 color space in cameras means that green screen is no longer a daunting task.  In the edit off-the-shelf programs like FCPX do a remarkable job out of the box without the need for an expensive plugin.

Yet it can’t be completely relied on; before the film enters the edit suite before it goes down the lens of the camera; the hard work has already been done.  In the lighting.

The importance of lighting will be covered in How do I shoot Green Screen?” part 2.