Green screen shooting is for more than gimmicks like putting someone on the moon or a roller-coaster. Being able to isolate your subject from its background provides limitless creative opportunities.

Here is the equipment you will need:

  • One Chroma Key green surface: This can be a muslin drop cloth, nylon cloth, paper, or even a painted wall.
  • One HD camera (720p or 1080i) with tripod
  • At least five quality lights: 600W Tungsten or equivalent (brighter is even better). You can get by with three lights, but you will not get the best results.
  • A large area to shoot in with at least 10′-12′ of height (if shooting full length subject) and at least 30′ of length
  • Miscellaneous Gels, scrims, or cookies as needed for look you want on subject

Here is how to set up the shot:

Before discussing the lighting (which is by far the most important part of the setup) let’s talk about positioning. Place the green screen at the far end of your space at least 25 feet from the camera. Your subject should be positioned 7 to 9 feet from the screen. You may need to make adjustments to the screen to make sure everything remains in frame.

Lighting is the most important aspect of getting a great key, i.e., removing the green background in editing. The goal when setting up the lights is to minimize the appearance of shadows. This is important because it is very difficult to key out a shadow and much easier to put one back in. Save yourself time and anguish and light it right the first time.

Lighting the Screen

You need a minimum of two lights for the green screen. These lights should be soft and even over the breadth of the screen. You may need to swivel them left or right to make the screen as evenly lit as possible. Try to avoid hot spots or cool spots especially in the area behind your subject. You may need more lights for even coverage on a larger screen. Continue reading