Lighting Green Screen Background for Chromakey

In our Tips & Tricks segment, Andrew and Mark focus on lighting for Chroma Keying.

Video Transcript

Today we’re gonna show you how to set up a great, simple green screen.

So here we are in the studio. We have the basics. We have three lights, a subject, and a green backdrop. First order of business is lighting the backdrop. It’s probably one of the most difficult parts of the process. What you want to do is make sure that you don’t have any funny shadows on your green backdrop ‘cause these will definitely show up when you go to pull your key. What you want to do is make sure there aren’t any wrinkles in the fabric. You can use a fabric. Today we have a sheet of paper. Another thing we’ve done is let the paper sag onto the carpet, onto the floor, and that creates a smooth transition which minimizes funny shadows also.

Lighting the green screen is one of the most difficult parts of the process. It really is because you’re lighting two different elements. You have your backdrop and your subject, and when you mix light sometimes it doesn’t work very well. So what you want to do is make sure that A, the light is really even – you don’t want to create hotspots, which are different areas of exposure. If you have one hard light going out at the center of your green screen it’s gonna create a really bright or hot area in the middle and it’ll be darker around the corners. You really want to make it even. That means using two lights to light the backdrop. What you’ll want to do is try and diffuse them a little bit. Right now we’re using a soft box and a fluorescent light. Those two types of lights are pretty much the softest type of light you can make. Creating a nice, even light means using two lights generally, one on either side at about the same distance from the green screen. The lights that we’re using here have been diffused. We have a soft box on one and some neutral density and diffusion paper on the other.

Now that you’ve lit your backdrop you need to light your subject, and this is really one of the big selling points of a green screen. You have to light your subject similar to the background plate that you’ll key in later. This means for outdoors you really need a strong key light. Today we’re gonna use just a single light to light the subject, and that keeps our total lights to just three lights, again adding to the simplicity of the project. It’s really important to have your talent stand far enough away from the green screen so that you can light them properly. If they’re too close the light that you’re lighting your talent with will make a shadow on your green screen, too, and that’s not good. Depending on the size of the screen and the light you’re using, you have to have your subject stand about six to eight feet away from the screen. Having your talent stand away from the green screen will allow you to light them in such a way that it won’t interfere with the rest of the lighting setup. Since we’ve turned our other lights off, we can just focus on the one light we have left and create the best key light.

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