November 15, 2011 \ Geoff Birmingham
When should I use a green screen for video production?

Worcester Academy Marketing Video

Last week we had a conversation with a new client who asked about filming their executive director in front of a green screen and then inserting a background afterwards. Our response: We can film her in front of a green screen, but we don’t think it’s going to communicate what you want.

Green screens can definitely come in handy, but they need to be handled with care, so to speak.  In this case, the client was trying to “cheat.”  In other words, he couldn’t film the director in the actual location he wanted, so he thought perhaps interviewing her against a green screen and then dropping in the location behind her in post-production would be a satisfactory solution.

There’s nothing morally wrong with this, of course, but the problem is that it would lead to an inconsistent look with the other interviews in the video.  All of the others are going to be filmed in “real” locations, and so we would jump from real to not real.  Our feeling is that using a green screen for interviews is best if:

1. All the interviews in your video are shot green screen; and

2. You don’t try and pretend to be somewhere you are not – that just comes across looking rather fake.

The shot above is an example from a video that follows these two rules.  We filmed this gentleman and a number of other people from Worcester Academy in front of a screen for consistency.  And then, rather than placing a lovely sunset of the campus behind him and the others, we dropped in the Academy’s logo and altered it a bit for each interview to give a little variety.

One caveat: if you are striving for the ridiculous and cheesy, then a green screen can be an invaluable tool.  See David Hasselhoff below for an excellent example.