7 Tips for using a green screen

Paul Richards
A free video tutorial from Paul Richards
Chief Streaming Officer
4.3 instructor rating • 24 courses • 50,934 students

Lecture description

7 Green Screen Tips for a perfect picture

  1. The Green Screen itself!

    1. Background should not reflect light! Reflections change the shades of green. Ideally it should be a flat color and evenly lit.

    2. Diffusing lighting is ideal! Be careful for reflections of light

  2. Location of green screen and camera

    1. Average 2’ off of the ground for green

      1. Stand up would be all the way to the ground

    2. Ideally green screen will be 4’ behind you to remove shadows and issues

    3. Camera location - Sitting at least 3-4’ away from the camera to avoid lighting issues

  3. Lighting should be even.

    1. Perhaps the most critical aspect of a good green screen layout

    2. Watch out for lighting that is only down facing. Try adding light directed toward your subject and green screens

    3. LEDs today can provide wonderful light spectrums and colors

    4. Diffused lighting is best. Be careful for lighting that

  4. Camera Tuning

    1. Start with a perfect white balance

    2. Hue is perhaps the most powerful tool for removing stray pixels in your virtual background

    3. Use focus to make your talent in focus and allow the green screen to be out of focus

  5. Adjust your software settings

    1. Once you have done your best to set up all the physical aspects of your green screen use software settings as a final tuning process

  6. When all else fails try darker background image or video to hide stray pixels

  7. Optimize your image

    1. Crop out edges you don’t need

    2. But leave plenty of room for your arms to stretch out… You don’t want your arms getting cut off during your presentation!

Extra Content:


Adding a green screen to your webinar can take your talent anywhere they need to go. Live streaming and webinar technologies are so easy and affordable, it’s worth looking into a few simple additions to your workflow that can increase the professionalism of your videos. In this eBook, we will review how you can easily use today’s technology to add a green screen which can transform our message and presentations just like the professionals on TV! Simple additions such as lower thirds, virtual sets and video overlays can make your next webinar at hit viewers will want to share on social media and keep coming back for more!

What you can do with a green screen

When I refer to “talent” I am talking about the person or people who are hosting your live stream / webinar. The talent video input is perhaps the most important element to your live stream. You want to make sure you have ideal lighting on your subjects and make sure the green screen you purchase allows your talent enough room to make their planned presentation.

Green screens allow you to take your talent layer and put them almost anywhere in the world including virtual sets which we will talk about in detail in this eBook. When you are choosing a virtual set for 1-2 people at 10’x10’ size should cover both subjects when they are sitting at a table. Most green screens come with a tripod system which allows the green screen to drape behind your talent. It is important to get a good camera view of your talent ideally 12-16 feet away and zoomed in to crop out all non-green surfaces (you can also do cropping digitally).

Once you have a good camera shot of your talent with the green screen backdrop you can start to add your chroma-key. You may find that your chroma-key works perfectly digital, or you may need to add additional light to the green screen to even the shading. Either way once your chroma-key has been tweaked you can start overlaying your talent video layer over various backgrounds, videos and virtual sets.

Backgrounds, videos and virtual sets

Now the fun begins. What background will work best for our next webinar? Virtual Sets are the most diverse and flexible backgrounds because they allow you to place the talent in front of a ideal background and behind a ideal foreground. For example you might place your talent at a in front of a modern lobby with a modern desk in front of them. There are many version of virtual sets that can place your talent in almost any background/foreground combination for a seamless transportation to the ideal scenery for your next webinar. PTZOptics has 19 free virtual sets that we offer with our cameras for free which are focused on providing industry specific scenes such as: Classrooms, Conference Rooms, Modern Office Spaces, Houses of Worship, Inspirational Scenes and more.

Virtual Sets are easy to use and customize. Some virtual sets even include a virtual LCD monitor / additional input space content. Therefore you can have your talent in the modern lobby and their PowerPoint in a LCD. This is very popular in modern television for broadcast where a LCD TV or Pop-Up box is included with supporting content for the talent. These layers can easily be controlled in software such as vMix which simply provides a drop down menu for selectable inputs. Personally I like to connect my iPad to a virtual LCD and use annotation to make my point more clearly. You can also use a “merge” effect to pull a intro video into a virtual LCD at the beginning of your webinar.

Using backgrounds and videos are easier than virtual sets. You can simply overlay your chroma-key talent layer over a picture or video set on loop to provide a simply clean background. This is ideal for removing any potentially distracting or simply boring content from behind your talent. There are various “room animations” you can use to place your talent in front of a scenic background with a little movement. There are busy city backgrounds, quiet retreats and even animated rooms which feature floors/ceilings with realistic light rays and more…

Learn more from the full course

Introduction to Green Screens and Virtual Sets

Learn to use professional streaming techniques to improve your look on camera.

01:48:53 of on-demand video • Updated April 2020

  • Use Virtual Sets and Virtual Backgrounds for live streaming
  • Use Virtual Sets and Virtual Backgrounds for webinars and video conferencing
  • Understand how to use a green screen effectively
English [Auto] Hello everybody Paul Richard's here with PTZ Optix and I have with me Scott Malone Scott thank you for joining us once again. My pleasure. How are you doing Paul. Beautiful background. It's Martin Luther King Day for those of you out there who are celebrating this wonderful American holiday. Scott are you using your green screen show a little festivities. You sure. I'm not really there. You're right. I mean I don't know what it looks like you're reporting from the MLK official headquarters there. Now as you know we're playing around with green screens this morning I'll switch over to NASA's mission control and look how easy it is for you to switch that which is something we're going to get into because I think people understand the power of green screens and why we're suggesting that they use them. But I think what a lot of people have trouble with is getting it done right and making it look professional So that's what we're going to talk about today we've got seven tips and I'm going to go ahead and use my green screen here to really really get high tech here. So seven tips for green screen froze from a green screen pro. Now the big question is are you actually writing on the chalkboard or is that part of your green screen background. Oh that's a good question because I don't want anyone to know about that because that did actually you know really give away some of my expertise if I need to I can use my virtual set to go in a little further let me see here. But regardless there are tips there. Scott and I are going to walk you through this. Scott our first tip here is the green screen itself. And I wanted to talk a little bit about what makes your green screens and screens of green a little different then you know what what you might maybe just a regular muslin screen which is actually what we used here for quite a long time. Chirk. I think the majority of us that got in the green screen started with the Muslims and tack them up behind us in the office and screens of green were born out of the demand for something that was much quicker to set up much quicker to tear down and was aesthetically pleasing in a professional office setting. So we tried about 50 different iterations of chemical compounds on a projector screen type screens and we came up with our current screens of green dot com compound and this is what it essentially does is it gives you a flat green background. Now like you and I have talked about the pixels can actually be almost any color nowadays with the computer software. The reason Green works so well is it's not regularly occurring except for in my instance where I have green eyes. Occasionally I look very spiritually detached. That green screen takes out those background colors because it doesn't occur as often as some of the other colors. And then also you need to make sure you don't have a reflective material and projector screens themselves are obviously very reflective. And we had to make a diffuse color through part of the ink process so that it absorb light as opposed to reflected light. Gotcha. So. So one of the very first things you can do and I know a lot of people are trying to work on stuff like this on a budget but starting with a high quality green screen is going to avoid help you avoid so many other problems and unfortunately even if you did all of our seven tips but you didn't have a clean flat green screen to work with from the beginning even the tips that we're going to give you might not actually pan out. So getting a high quality good green screen should be if you're using this for business you're using this for broadcasting you're using this for you know that people of faith face that should be your first step. Number two we have is the location of the green screen. And Scott I know you have some tips here. Tell us about the location. All right. So couple things. One we missed on our last discussion Paul was the size of your green screen. I think the majority of people including myself had a tendency to underestimate the size that you needed behind you. We recommend a minimum of 82 inches on the diagonal. But most of our green screens are actually a 400 inch or larger. And that gives you enough background to cover the full space behind you. You can see when I can to the left or the right it doesn't take much for me to be off screen and that's with a 100 inch diagonal and so if you go too small then you have to sit too close. So like we talked about with location you want to be approximately three feet in front of your green screen so that you're not too close and having the shadows on it and you're not too far away that you need a full wall and then you also want to be three to four feet from your camera. Now how can allows you to zoom in so that there's exceptions in the higher end cameras. And then finally from your light source we use LCD lamps that sit right on our desktops and we make sure we're about two to three feet away from them. And the higher the light source the better it has a tendency to hide your double chin and all that kind of stuff. Not everybody is like me. Well OK so that takes the number three here. So lighting you touched on it. I got some notes here from the team from a bunch of different people here touched on lighting perhaps probably the most critical aspect of a good green screen to lay out the lighting. You know besides the screen itself being in place properly that's kind of what we talked about is lighting it up so that you're not doing down facing lighting you know you're not having shadows on there. You talked about LCD lights diffusing lighting. Let's let's kind of talk about how a perfect first set up would be and then kind of you know not every setup's ideal what can we do to make it make it at least work in most settings. Sure. Well you said the magic word diffuse lighting. If you have any focus lighting which is your typical light bulbs lamps you're going to have a lot of trouble with shadows uncovering shadows. Not only on a green screen but also shadows in the room. Additionally in your diffuse lighting Nowadays the best solution is actually the LCD flat lining. And if you can find an LCD flat light or even one of those cheap LCD strips it can provide you some pretty good diffuse lighting. And like we talked about before the lighting used to be really important to light up the green screen so that you had a consistent color in the background of you. But nowadays there's a trick and I'll let you get into that later with focus on that. Humor is the focus. OK. So we talked about lighting a little light bulb there. Let me set a preset so I can go back and forth. I like being able to show that a blackboard full screen some of the areas sort of preset there there's this one is too beautiful. All right. Number four is Khandwa tuning and camera tuning is something that I'll take that one. Couple different options for camera tuning now your standard webcam may have a little bit of tuning sometimes if you have a lot of tech webcam. You can download a driver for the camera and you can try to play around with the color settings. But when you get a huddle cam HD camera comes with with a remote control that actually has a menu that you can use to access a whole bunch of different options and I won't pull it up. Now this is really got 20 minutes for this webinars. But the things to think about here are first of all you know you need to get the perfect picture. And we actually have a whole guide. You can download to get the perfect picture and really it starts with white belts. OK. You want to get the white balance just right contrast. Just right. Then you can start tweaking with colors and things depending on if your room has a lot of fluorescent lighting and you're getting to yellowy or there's a lot of red you can remove some of the red you can play with the colors. But the one feature that I've found for there's two real main things one is Heugh OK the hue is so important because we need green to look true. We need the color of this green to be as green as possible and not be confused with any you know green reflections on you for example that the the computer green screen algorithms are very black and white. Remove green that's all it is. The problem is getting the information properly to the computer and that's where the camera is crucial. So we talked about getting the actual screen itself green the lighting to make it actually green putting the greens green right. But now we've got to get the camera to properly view the green screen and hue has been huge and focus. Believe it or not is like a game changer. Saves it all sometimes. Whereas for example I'll just find a play with my focus here. You can see that I see maybe I have to I haven't done a thorough manual focus. You can see that I can kind of go out of focus in focus and then back out of focus again. So what you want to do is you want to just pinpoint your self in focus and if you've done what Scott has suggested here with the location we're saying roughly four feet behind you that's enough for our cameras to go. This plane of existence is in focus and that green screen behind us is now a blurry diffused green and that hides some of the shadows and some of the things that could be a problem. So cameras comes to obviously getting a great picture but also the hue and the focus. So next we have now we're getting it's now we've really if you've gotten the here you might be done you might be good to go when it comes to these last couple things that we have here. Scott These are just kind of extra little things that you can tweak with if you really want to get perfect. But number five is actually using the software settings within zoom video conferencing which I think are somewhat minimal. But some of the broadcasting software is like VM X and Y or CAS depending on what you're using. They do offer some some interesting options. So there are software options and you can't take a bad camera and fix it with software options but you can take a good camera and make it a little bit better with software. Right. And there's really two types of software out there. There's your fixed background or you can't easily zoom zoom out and 3-D features to it. And then there is your 3-D version like the virtual networks and the mix of software and being able to create a studio like which you're in right now. Yes. Those are pretty amazing. I know that you know the stories behind the development of it but it came right out of the media and news industry and has been translated into some pretty phenomenal software. It really has. And you know the software options that are available today are absolutely incredible. Big fan of tweaking the software making it perfect and using virtual sets. Maybe we'll do a quick virtual set demo at the end of this. The next option we have now this is just really a big tipper track. But when all else fails you can use a dark background. So what happens when your you know your green screen is not ideal. Everything else is not working. You end up getting black pixels behind you. And Scott you're looking great though. I mean I know I haven't seen any pixels. You're looking great. I can see a little bit around your edges of your ear and when you're using zoom video conferencing which is a primitive you know new chroma key effect if you look at me here let me just not that you know I'm using so much better stuff but you can. You can't even really see the I can't even see the pixellation around the edges. Right. Like I mean I'm not seeing any yet or if you are not man and let me go ahead and just just so what a lot of people might see is something like this. See that pixellation behind me. Now I've got a great way to just kind of go OK take it away take it away if you take too much away or you're gone. But one of the things is that if you have got a little bit of pixellation if it's a dark background you can't see those black pixels as much. So last case scenario use a black background you something dark. It should make you pop out from that that background. Yeah as long as it's not the same color as your hair or the shirt that you're wearing. Yeah good point. I think I'm seeing a teensy bit of pixilation that had it just right and the changes are a little there. It doesn't like it to be played with. OK so that's number six. And we have one last tip for you guys and that is optimize your image and what we mean by that is cropping. Potentially you can crop left and right and I'll show you a quick example of that like for example let's say I'm getting a little bit of pixellation on on the right hand side I could just crop that right out. No one would know the difference. Right. So something to think about. I can already see I'm getting a little bit of pixellation some of the never change your color key in the middle of the set. Yes you can and that is eight. Changing this from seven to eight now. But cropping also leave plenty of room for your arms and there's something that even I'm guilty of quite often is to leave room to actually move your arms out getting it cut off. Right. That looks unnatural doesn't look look good. So is this something you think about when you're optimizing your image. I'll show everyone my screen that I'm using here is quite large. This is this is the one Scott sent me here quite large. And the thing I love about it is that it's a pulldown screen so I can literally I'm not going to do it. We're in the middle of a show but pull it down goes all the way up. Well one thing I can do is definitely I can zoom in on the the fact that it is a screen so you can see there that it's just a nice little screen that mounts to the ceiling and now you know a lot of people are retrofitting areas you know they're taking a boardroom or a conference room or a training room and putting something like this in so that you can see here the mounting hardware there just mounts right to the right to the superstructure of the of the building there. So something to think about making your life easier just pulling it up and down. Oh my gosh before that I had a green screen that had two tripods and that wouldn't even work very well. I mean you know one of the things a lot of people know when they get into this stuff is that you start small you start wherever you start and then you get better and better and you get iteration after iteration. And Scott's going to give us an example of business beautiful. Look at that. No. Mine's just slightly smaller than yours I think yours is a hundred and sixty five inch vertical diagonal and we're sitting at about 100 inch. So that pretty much does it for our tips for the day. Thank you so much for coming in Scott. This has been a fun Facebook live exclusive. It will be posted on YouTube. So if you're watching on YouTube on Mondays we broadcast Facebook. On Fridays we broadcast to YouTube. It's been so much fun having you here Scott let me do a quick demo of our virtual set here you can see that virtual sets allow you to really do some cool stuff. Let me remove this here. Look look that's got even a reflection of you down there if you move around a. Yeah that's pretty amazing. See that reflections. And this is from virtual set works. If I do it right there's even reflections on this. See you then. I mean it really looks real. Everyone saw that we're just hiding behind green screens but it's a really really cool technology. You guys got to see the green screen effects that we we've been our top seven tips also have it available as a download and also have it in the description below. But this should be a great little tips section for you guys to really that's if you can do all of that. You are on the way to being a live streaming green screen pro. Thanks Scott. You're welcome. Have a great day. Take care.