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Ask Arthur: Green
screen blues

A reader has decided to go vlogging and wants to know if a green screen is needed. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK offers advice.

Q:  I want to create video content because that’s where the action is. I’m told I need a green screen. What is it, and what should I know before I go for it.

A: You don’t mention where you want to post the content. If it is just for Reels or TikTok, for example, a plain background is usually fine. For more high-end video, for example if you want to put high-res content on YouTube, or want to create a professional feed, a green screen can be very useful. The green background can be replaced by any image or video during editing, so it is ideal for overlaying content or adding background content.

A green screen is a backdrop made of fabric and, as its name suggests, it is uniformly green. It also has to be non-reflective. Why green? The experts say it is distinct from most human skin tones and clothing, making it easier to isolate and replace in post-production. As a result, most video editing software recognises the green background as an editing playground.

It means you can create different environments without changing your location, That can make your videos look more polished and professional, and it saves on invesing in multiple sets.

But it’s not as simple as that. Here are some key pieces of advice: 

  • Make sure the green screen is smooth, with no wrinkles or folds.
  • Proper lighting, ideally soft and diffused, is crucial to avoid shadows and ensure an even colour. The green screen must be evenly lit.
  • Higher quality cameras produce better results.
  • Place yourself or your subject a a metre or so in front of the green screen to minimise shadows and “spill” of the green onto faces.
  • Avoid green clothing or accessories, as anything green will become invisible.
  • Make sure the entire green screen is in the frame, ie that you don’t have walls sticking out on sides or top.

Green screens can be bought online from any electronics supplier, ranging from Takealot to Temu. Remember that cost and quality go hand in hand. Too cheap, and you are probably wasting your money.

Arthur Goldstuck is CEO of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on social media on @art2gee.

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