What is a green screen and how does it work?

The green screen plays an important role in videography. Learn what a green screen is and how it works.

It is not always possible to shoot videos and photos in attractive locations with unique backgrounds. It can be remote or inaccessible. Or worse, nothing like fantasy or science fiction.

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But that doesn’t mean that creating great background videos is exclusive to studios with big budgets. Thanks to the green screen, everyone can be anywhere, anytime in their video. So, what is a green screen?

What is the green screen?

In the field of photography and video, green screen is a bright green canvas background that allows photo and video editors to completely change their background in post-production. The goal is to make the transition from the shooting location to the altered background as smooth and natural as possible.

Green screens are usually made of a stretchable synthetic nylon spandex, but any bright green fabric can be used as a green screen, but with varying results.

In fact, some people paint their walls bright green to mimic a green screen. Essentially, the green screen acts as a background replacement. This is the biggest indication that whatever is captured will have a completely different background.

Why does it have to be green?

Choosing green may seem a little confusing at first, but the answer is very easy. People and most clothes, furniture and decorations are not green. While green is a color that stands out in nature, it is rarely used in fashion or everyday décor, be it in the home, office or coffee shop.

Other colors, such as brown, yellow, orange and red can be found in a variety of colors and even in skin and hair tones. While it is possible, when it comes time to replace the screen with a wallpaper, these colors make the task ten times more difficult.

How do green screens work?

Conceptually, green screens are based on simple technologies. However, in practice, small details and changes in exposure can lead to significant changes in the quality of the resulting image.

When preparing a green screen, it is important that the entire surface is homogeneous. It requires strong, even lighting and the fabric material should be as straight as possible with few or no wrinkles creating an unpleasant contrast.

You also have to be careful that the actor or viewer does not cast shadows on the green screen with overhead lighting.

green screen vs blue screen

Blue is another color that is not often used on synthetic objects and people. Not to mention that blue is the rarest color in nature, as very few animals or plants are blue.

A variety of “green” screen colors were used in the early to mid-20th century in black and white films and dramas, but these colors became popular after the advent of digital cameras. Digital cameras tend to capture twice as much green as all other colors, including blue. This means that it is easier to identify and replace a green background in post-production than any other color.

Not only that, the green screen only requires less light to be bright, which means you need less light on the shooting set. Perfect for photographers and studios working on a tight budget.

But one of the biggest downsides of a green screen is its brightness. There are a lot of color spills on other parts of the set. So anyone or whatever you’re picking up will reflect the green light. This is especially a problem when photographing shiny or reflective objects.

It is easier to use blue screens when shooting dark scenes, since there should not be much light. Plus, it’s easier to put things that melt on the green screen, like blonde hair. However, blue screens are more expensive to use because they require more light to function properly.


Green screens have been used in films since the 1940s and still exist today. The bright green cloth remains the same. It’s a key photography technology that evolves with every new digital camera and video editing software.

Some high-budget movie studios are abandoning green and blue screens in favor of curved LED screens. However, green screens are not likely to disappear anytime soon because they are cheap to implement and easy to use with the help of modern key software.

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