Here’s how you can work around bad backgrounds

Not every shooter has the ability to scout locations before their shoot. Last minute locations can have ugly backgrounds, so how do you work around them?

Technique 1: Try another angle

The first thing you should always try to see if a different camera angle will give you a better background shot. Even just changing the direction of the shot by just a few degrees could make a huge difference.

Side by side images of woman
Just a simple angle change can do wonders.

Technique 2: Use what you have

You may still need to make adjustments after moving your camera angle. You have to make the most of what your location has to offer. Move the clutter and objects disrupting your shot. Don’t go crazy though. A few minor adjustments can work.

Also, bring a few props so you can add things to the background. Things like practical lights, picture frames, small statues and maybe a fake plant or two can add character to the background.

Just remember, be respectful of the location. And be sure to move everything back after you’re done shooting.

Technique 3: Use the light

Lighting can fix an ugly background as well. For instance, colored gels can make a blank wall into a much more interesting background. If you have the space to light your subject and background separately, you can further isolate the subject with high contrast lighting.

Technique 4: Use the camera

Your camera has all the tools you need to change an ugly background into a pleasing background. With a shallow depth of field allows you to keep the background out of focus while your subject remains crisp and clear. Also, to make your subject stand out from a busy background with a long focal length lens.

Technique 5: Fix it in post

After Effects' Roto Brush can help fix backgrounds
After Effects’ Roto Brush can help fix backgrounds. Image courtesy

If all else fails, fix it in post. If you can use After Effects and the advanced tools in your editing software, changing the background shouldn’t be too hard.

So, if you find that your shooting location isn’t so great, don’t panic. Use these techniques to ensure your video’s background looks great and doesn’t distract from your subject.

Be sure to look over “How to Hide an Ugly Background” to learn more ways you can fix ugly backgrounds.

Image courtesy

Sean Berry
Sean Berry
Sean Berry is Videomaker's managing editor.

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