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Guide to lighting for green screen video

A green screen offers endless creativity for your upcoming project. If you intend to utilize it, then you need our guide on getting lighting for green screen video to achieve professional-looking chroma key shots. Although illuminating a green screen is generally straightforward, it can pose challenges for beginners in chroma keying. It's crucial to ensure proper lighting for your screen to avoid extensive post-production adjustments or the need for reshooting.

COLBOR CL330 LED video light is used with the supplied reflector to offer powerful lighting for green screen video.

When would you use green screen for video recording?

Green screen is an excellent tool for creating an effect that might otherwise be beyond your budget, set design, deadline, or other resources. Rather than going out and filming in a weird area or filming a cool effect, you can digitally add these elements during post-production. Green screen is also useful for incorporating text into shots or achieving double exposure or double composite effects.

Green screens perform best when properly illuminated. Adequate illumination is required to achieve a clear distinction between the subject and the green screen background. The more evenly illuminated your green screen is, the easier it becomes to eliminate the green color completely. This allows for seamless replacement of the green background with any image or video, enhancing the overall visual quality of your videos.

Three basic concepts for lighting green screen for video

Whenever you are lighting green screen for video shooting, there are a few fundamental lighting concepts to keep in mind.

One essential rule of lighting for green screen video is to ensure that the entire screen has even lighting. It is crucial to have an evenly lit background to achieve an even chroma key and avoid unwanted shadows or light spillage. Failure to expose the background correctly can cause it to be too bright and bleed into skin tones or too dark and blend with the shadows. This makes it challenging to pull the keys in post-production. Therefore, it is necessary to prioritize even lighting on the background and ensure that the camera is appropriately exposed to the lighting.

In addition, it is advisable to position your subject as far away from the green screen as possible while still achieving the desired shot. This approach not only helps minimize green screen spillage but also enhances the separation between the subject and the background.

Lastly, the proximity of the light sources to the green screen affects the spread of light. It is important to note that simply having bright lights is not enough. The key is to have evenly spread lighting. Positioning the lights at a greater distance from the green screen will result in a wider spread of light, creating a more even chroma key. Conversely, placing the lights closer to the green screen will narrow the beam angle, resulting in uneven lighting.

COLBOR CL330 light for green screen video comes with a light base for mounting on the stand and a handle for convenient carrying.

How to light a green screen for video: 5 tips to follow

Getting the best lighting for green screen video requires attention to several key factors, such as green screen material and lighting placement. Here are some tips for you to get stunning videos.

Consider the material of green screen to set it up well and use proper lighting setup

The type of lighting setup required for your green screen will be influenced by the material you choose. In high-budget productions, it is common to construct a set with green painted walls as the green screen. This option is ideal because walls are always smooth and free from wrinkles, ensuring balanced lighting as long as there is sufficient illumination.

However, this choice can be expensive and lacks portability. Alternatively, many people use either a fabric or fold-out screen. However, this option may require some extra effort to set up and might have wrinkles. It is important to minimize wrinkles as much as possible to ensure a smooth keying process. Here are some tips:

  • In the case of using fabric, if wrinkles are present, utilize steam or iron to restore a smooth texture. If the fabric continues to bunch up, ensure to stretch it tightly for crease elimination.
  • For those using paint, carefully examine the green screen for any chipped or scuffed sections and apply touch-up paint as necessary. If there is a significant amount of chipped or scuffed areas, it is recommended to repaint the entire surface to guarantee color consistency.

Illuminate the subject first and keep them at a distance from the green screen to avoid spill

It is crucial to ensure that your subjects are properly lit for the scene before lighting the green screen. Your priority should be to make sure that your characters appear as if they belong in the environment you intend to key them into.

Additionally, it is recommended to maintain a distance between the subject and the green screen. This is because many green screens tend to be reflective, and having the subject too close to the screen can cause spillage. Green screen spillage occurs when the green luminance of the screen reflects onto the subject, leading to complications during post-production. It will require extra effort to prevent unintentional keying off of parts of the subject.

Position the lights for green screen video properly

When positioning your lights, ensure that both the left and right lights are at an equal distance from the green screen to avoid hotspots. Instead of placing them directly in front of the subject, position them on the sides to prevent shadows from appearing in the camera's frame.

When setting up your lights, include a key light and fill light, as well as at least two lights for green screen. If you're using just one light, it should be placed above your subject to cast even light onto the background. The light must be powerful enough to illuminate the entire area and diffused enough to create an even light. In this case, the COLBOR CL330 is a good choice. The 330W power output allows it to illuminate the scene entirely.

Different light positions may work depending on your situation and the main lighting for your subject. Experiment with their placement to complement your main lighting, but always remember to mirror the lights for the green screen to maintain consistent exposure.

Expose the green screen correctly

To achieve proper exposure for your green screen video, adjust the brightness settings on your camera slightly below the usual level. This will help avoid capturing colors other than green. Lowering the ISO on your camera is also advised to prevent the appearance of different color hints in your shot. However, it's important to note that excessively lowering the ISO can lead to underexposure, which is equally unwanted as overexposure.

More tips for lighting for green screen video

Besides the aforementioned tips for the best lighting for green screen music videos and suchlike videos, there are more small tips to pay attention to.

  • Use an app to check if the green screen is evenly illuminate instead of relying on your naked eye.
  • Smooth out your green screen by either stretching or steaming it to ensure uniformity.
  • Incorporate a backlight (hair light) to add depth and separate your subject from the screen, avoiding a "flat" appearance.
  • Avoid wearing clothing that is green or contains green elements to prevent blending in with the background.
  • Properly frame your shot to ensure complete coverage of your movements by the green screen.
  • Be cautious if there's a monitor connected to your camera in front of you, as it may reflect green light onto you. Adjusting the saturation to zero will render the screen black and white, effectively resolving this issue.