Technology makes putting yourself into a video easier than ever. Once upon a time, you needed a professional studio to do effects. Today green screen backgrounds can turn any apartment into a sound stage.
Whether you’re streaming on Twitch or making a short film at home, customizing your green screen doesn’t have to be a hassle. Let us walk you through the basics of green screen backgrounds, from best practices to which programs to explore.
How do you make good green screen backgrounds?
Getting the best green screen background starts with effectively shooting your content. Using a powerful program will only go so far if your footage is poorly lit or low resolution. Here are the basics you’ll need to understand before you make a green screen background.
What is Chroma Key?
Chroma Key is a special effect that lets you remove a specific color from a video clip to create a composite of two or more images. Traditionally, this color is green, so people use “green screen” as a catch-all when discussing this technique. When you say “green screen,” you’re talking about Chroma Key.
After removing the colored background layer of your video, creators can replace that space with anything they can create. TV shows use this effect to add special effects or graphics during news broadcasts. Movies use it to transport actors to new worlds. Most importantly, small creators on Twitch, TikTok, YouTube, and beyond use it to explore their imagination.
When do I need to shoot with a blue screen?
Green screens are the most popular option because they work with the most skin tones. It also tends to be the color channel with the most information in digital cameras. The color filter array on most digital cameras is called the Bayer array. Thanks to Cambridge in Color, you can read an in-depth explanation here.
However, that doesn’t mean they’re the only option. While searching for a green screen, you’ll notice they often have a blue screen option. Blue screens are useful when filming a subject wearing green or blonde hair. Green is more luminance than blue, which sometimes causes lighter hair colors to blend into the background.
This shouldn’t be too big of an issue for most home studio use. But, if you notice your blonde hair bleeding into your green screen backgrounds, try a blue screen.
Where should I get started buying a green screen?
Finding the perfect green screen depends on your budget and filming setup. Do you already have lights? Do you make your videos in a small office, or do you have a studio? Green screens come in all shapes and sizes and at all price points. We’ve written a handy guide for finding the right green screen for any budget. You can find that guide here.
Do I need lights to shoot on a green screen?
You’ll want proper lighting to get the most out of your green screen. How much lighting you’ll need depends on your studio setup. If your office is bright enough, you might be able to get by with overhead lighting at first. Eventually, you’ll want to explore other, brighter lighting options.
The critical thing to remember is to make sure your lighting doesn’t cast your shadow onto the green screen. You can solve this issue by filming in a room with bright overhead lighting. If you’re using professional lights, you’ll have two options. First, ensure you’re close enough to the green screen that you don’t cast a shadow. Additionally, you can set lights on the sides of your green screen to reduce shadows.
Looking for a head start on home studio lighting? You can check out our round-up of the best TikTok led lights here.
How do you find a background for a green screen?
What makes an excellent green screen background is ultimately subjective. It depends on your audience, what kind of video you’re making, and what you need. Thankfully, there are more options available to help you than ever before.
Many services, such as Twitch, offer programs that walk you through setting up your green screen for streaming. You can make your art using a free creation tool, hire someone on Fiverr, upload personal photography, or find free options online.
How do I find green screen backgrounds for free?
If you’d like to use preexisting footage as your green screen background, your best bet is Creative Commons. Creative Commons is a kind of general license that gives creators big and small the right to grant public permission to use their art. Content covered under a CC license is free to use with stipulations set by the creator.
There are six different license types for Creative Commons work.
Creative Commons types
- CC By: This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use.
- CC BY-SA: This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms.
- CC BY-NC: This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator.
- CC BY-NC-SA: This license allows reusers to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. If you remix, adapt, or build upon the material, you must license the modified material under identical terms.
- CC BY-ND: This license allows reusers to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format in unadapted form only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator. The license allows for commercial use.
- CC BY-NC-ND: This license allows reusers to copy and distribute the material in any medium or format in unadapted form only, for noncommercial purposes only, and only so long as attribution is given to the creator.
You can find Creative Commons work in a number of places, but to be safe, we recommend using the CC search engine. It will help you ensure you’re looking for material available under Creative Commons, from music to video to images.
Some services like Shutterstock also have royalty-free stock footage you can use.
How do I customize my green screen backgrounds?
Customizing your green screen is largely a matter of personal skill. Like any creative discipline, the more time and effort you put into it, the better results you’ll get. Photoshop is the industry standard for image creation, but if you’re working on a budget, we suggest trying out GIMP.
GIMP is a free and open-source image editor for photographers, illustrators, graphic designers, and beyond to explore. The internet is full of helpful tutorials on how to get started, and it’s free. When Creative Commons resources can’t meet your needs, GIMP can help you cross the bridge toward making what you imagine.
However, for streamers, the best place to start is often Twitch. We’ve found Twitch Studio offers the easiest-to-use interface, the most free options, and, most importantly, already works with Twitch. Plus, it’s easy to download your Twitch streams after the fact to upload on other services like YouTube.
For creators who still long for more ways to change their green screen background, here are four programs to get you started.
What program do you use for green screens?
With over 100 million users and counting, Wondershare Filmora is a cross-platform program for creators of any budget. Powerful, simple to learn, and available on everything from PC to Macs to tablets, Wondershare Filmore simply rules.
There are over 500 tutorials ready to teach everything you need to know about making videos. That includes great tutorials for its incredible Chroma Key features. Even with an Adobe membership, Filmora regularly ends up in our editing rotation.
If you’re already going to stream on Twitch, save yourself a lot of work. Twitch Studio makes using a green screen on your streams so easy that kids can do it. Twitch Studio will walk you through using your green screen and help you customize your background. From filters on your face to superimposing yourself over your game footage, Twitch Studio lets you go live in minutes.
Creators working on a professional team, editing features, TV, or professional videos depend on Adobe Premiere Pro. This program costs $252 per year, but you’ll get your money’s worth. Premiere gives you access to incredible titles, transitions, effects, editing, color grading, and Chrome Keying in one powerful package. Adobe has some of the best educational support on the market. While there is a learning curve to picking up Premiere, Adobe’s video tutorials will teach you everything you need to know.