Video On White Who Needs Green Screen

Video On White Who Needs Green Screen

When shooting video, there tends to be some confusion when it comes to the desire for video on a white background. That confusion centers around whether to shoot on a white background or use a green screen. If the final intention of the production is to add a background other than white, for example the skyline of a city, or a nature-scape, then green screen is typically the best way to go.

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However, many people think that shooting on green screen (which means shooting on a background which has an unusually distasteful green color) is the only way to go, even if you want your subject to appear on a white background.

Shooting on a green background to get a white background may sound counter intuitive, however it does works and can be quite effective in certain cases. To get from the green screen background to a white background, (or any other background as mentioned above), you have to cut out the green background from around the subject with an image program, for example “Photoshop”, and then add the background you have selected, whether it’s a white background, or the skyline of Philadelphia, whatever the client has requested.

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The weird color green is used because it is so ugly that nobody in their right mind would select the color for clothing, and very few product manufacturers would dare use the color for anything other than a plastic toy for a two year old, or maybe packaging for a toilet bowl cleaner. Therefore, it works well as a background to get rid of. You can instruct the imaging program to select the garish green color and remove it from all the video frames. Viola! it does it without removing chunks of clothing or pieces of product because the hideous color does not appear in anything other than the background.

The downside is that you have an additional step in post production that can become time consuming and costly.
This is especially true when the subject has intricate gaps and patterns that allow the background to show through, as in the case of a model with long flowing hair, blown with a wind machine. You can imagine all the tiny gaps and spaces in blown hair where the green background is going to show through. Accurately removing all the green in a case like this can be tricky.  Also the green screen background is notorious for casting reflections of green light  on the surfaces of the subject. Trying to get the subtle glow of green backlight off the cheekbones of a model or out of the shining surfaces of a product can be daunting.

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Finally, it is just visually unpleasant to shoot on green screen because it is so unattractive. Nothing looks good against an electric-quasi-psychedelic green background especially if one of your vitamin supplements is not LSD. Also neither the videographer nor the client has the immediate feedback of seeing how good, (or bad) the product or model is going to look on the white background of the finished production.

At this point you may wonder, “so why doesn’t everyone shoot on white when they want a white background for the completed project, duh! Well there are reasons. The difficulty with actually shooting on a white background when you want a white background for the finished production, is that it takes more complicated lighting. To get the background white and evenly toned throughout, you have to have control of the background lighting to a degree that is more demanding, and that requires more lighting equipment, than most videographers want to deal with.

At Church Street Studios, when a client requests a white background for a small production, we typically shoot it on white and save the client the additional post production time and cost it takes to delete green and add white. We have the lighting equipment and the lighting design skill to make it work on white as you can see in this production for Ric Ramsey, Executive Director and Vice President of “City Year Philadelphia”.

And finally yes, it’s a lot prettier to shoot on white and we like that. It also makes our clients happier because it saves them money and time; and that’s a very good thing.

Copyright 2015 – ArtChick and Chielli / Church Street Studios LLC

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