4 Steps to Shooting a Great Green Screen for Beginners

March 19, 2013 — 3 Comments

Today I’m talking about shooting a great green screen for beginners. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of weeks since I’ve used this a few times in the last few weeks.

This week I will only be talking about shooting a green screen, but if you’re interested you should definitely tune back in the next few weeks for the second part of the series on: How to key out a green screen in post production.

My First Experience With a Green Screen

My first experience with green screen didn’t go so well. I placed the talent too close to the screen, which I set up in a tiny  room, and of course the light reflecting from the screen shot back at the subject and shone on his shoulders.

The footage was almost unusable because I couldn’t key out the green from the subject without erasing his shoulders. But then as a last resource, I figured that if I turned the video black and white the green that was shinning back would be “erased” from the picture.

Since that time, I’ve done it many more times. So I have some more experience. And I’m glad, because I consider it such a regular skill in my portfolio now.


What I Used

I basically used these five items:

  • 20×10 Green cloth
  • 3 545W Lights
  • Flat Wall
  • Lens and cam body
  • Gaff Tape of the same color as the background
Green Gaff Tape

Green Gaff Tape

My 4 Steps To Shooting a Great Green Screen

Setting Up the Cloth

Our cloth is about 20×10, of course, this could vary for everybody. The most important thing to remember is that you really don’t need a lot of cloth. Remember that in post you will keep out the green and then you can crop the edges of the video. So having something in the background next to the screen is not my biggest concern.


Secure the green cloth to wall with gaff tape. The weight evens out if you tape at multiple points.You can use any other types of devices for this, but I’m such a fan of gaff tape, and the cloth was really not that heavy. Also gaff tape of the same color of your screen can help if you want to key out any parts of your subject.

Remember to lay your green cloth down and forward so you can key out the floor in post.

Set Up Lights

The lights will take care of two things.

  1. Light your talent. Remember, you want them to pop out of the screen. For that you will need well lit subjects. If you’re not familiar with lighting people, I recommend that you do some research prior to setting up.
  2. Making sure that the screen lit up. You don’t want any dark spaces that don’t look green, it will make it harder on you when you take your project into post-production.

Placing Your Subject

Set your subject at a proper distance away from the screen. Remember what happened to me the first time I shot a green screen scene. It reflects back some of the green and it makes it harder for you to key out the background.

If you have a narrow screen light I do, make sure to direct the talent to stay within screen. Depending on the size of your green screen, you may have to direct talent to walk in a certain path so they don’t go over an unkeyable place.


Of course if you’re shooting still objects then it doesn’t matter.

The Right Lens

A defined edge will make it easier for you to key out the background. Go with a wider lens, it will give you a sharper subject, thus making it easy for you when you have to chroma key in post. I used a 28mm, just so you get an idea of what you’re looking for.

Next week, I’ll have a little trick you can use as last resource if you screw up your green screen footage.


Although I’ve been thinking about writing this post since the first time I set up a green screen, yesterday I saw a post from ProBlogger.net encouraging bloggers to write a how to post. So it got me fired up and helped me bridge my intentions with my actions.

Thanks for reading and come back next week for part two of this series.

Danny De los Reyes

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Media Director at Northplace Church in Sachse, TX. I make stuff up... videos & animations usually. I am a happy husband, a daddy to a beautiful little girl. I'm a fan of coffee, arts, sports, social media, social justice and good times with friends.