Check out the above video for an example of how a green screen can liven up your YouTube videos!
This humble green screen can transform even the most humdrum of YouTube videos into something a bit more lively!
But how does it work?
Adding a large swathe of a bright colour to your video that is ‘unnatural’ (i.e. doesn’t really appear much in the real world), makes it incredibly easy for your video editing software (Final Cut Pro X in my case) to remove this background. And from there, you can add in whatever you like!
This could be a spaceship, an ocean liner, a desert, a freeway - really, the only limits are your imagination... or your ability to source a copyright-free background from Google!
It’s pretty easy to set up a green screen in your own home - here’s how I did it:
1. Purchase a green screen. I visited my local camera store and was spoilt for choice, however there are several good kits on Amazon. This one seems to have everything you need to get started.
2. Set it up in your recording space. You will need to keep the screen nice and tight so that it doesn’t get crumpled, so try and get a green screen with a stand if you can afford it/have room.
3. Light the screen. Obviously you will have to make the best of what you have available to you, but as a rule of thumb, it’s best to have one main light shining directly at the green screen, and two lights either side of where you’re going to be filming. The important thing is to light it as evenly as you can, so that the colour remains consistent. That makes it easier for your editing software to remove the colour.
4. Set up your camera. Make sure that your camera can capture lots of the green screen behind you. A wide-angle lens is NOT SUITABLE for this sort of thing, as it will distort the green screen and make it appear a lot smaller than it actually is. Probably a kit lens (i.e. the one that came with your camera in the first place) is ideal. Make sure that if you are going to be moving about, your arms and legs will not stretch beyond the green screen. Otherwise they will get cut off when you’re editing!
5. DON’T WEAR GREEN! Unless you are making a video about The Invisible Man.
6. Film what you want to film.
7. Once you’re done filming (and have packed away all your gear!) now comes the fun part. Upload the green screen footage to your computer and use your editing software to remove the green background. This used to be incredibly difficult to achieve but now software like Final Cut Pro can do it with pretty much a single click of a button: In the Effects tab, select “Keyer” and if you’ve lit your green screen properly, it should be able to remove it all almost immediately. You may need to touch it up a little to get the desired effect but generally it’s as simple as clicking a button!
8. Now you need to add a background to your video. this can be something you’ve found on the internet (although make sure you have the copyright to the images if you’re going to be uploading it to YouTube) or it could be one of the many royalty-free backgrounds that your editing software comes with. However for my video, I wanted to shoot my own backgrounds, so I got on my bike and cycled around Santa Monica shooting cool background shots of beaches, fields and street corners to use.
9. Once you’ve added the background to your video, the job is complete! Edit it as you would normally and upload it for the world to share! Here's a playlist of some of the videos that I've used green screen in over the years. Some of them are better than others, but it's always fun to see what you can come up with!
10. Have fun! There's no point doing this if you're not going to enjoy it!
TOP GREENSCREEN HINTS:
Keep the screen smooth and taught! (Wrinkles will show up on your video.)
Keep it evenly lit (The more evenly lit the screen is, the easier it will be for your editing software to remove it)
Don't wear green! (Unless you want to make a video about The Invisible Man...)
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