Can green screen video work for you?

At the IBC Show in Amsterdam back in September, I was lucky enough to interview Sam Nicholson, the cinematographer. He’s also chief executive of Stargate Studios, a company which, among other shows, counts Dr Who in its credits.

An excerpt from that interview is here, on the FT’s Connected Business podcast. One of the things that stood out for me, and Nicholson mentions it in the recording, is how much material is being filmed in green screen studios these days. It’s not just special effects, which you’d expect, but drama and factual programming too.

Chromakey: a maturing technology

Green screen technology has advanced to the point where it is often easier and more economical to shoot green screen than even to set up a simple “practical” background, such as a set of drapes. Creating a good “key” is much simpler with current-generation video editing software than it was even just a few years ago. The skill is really in setting up the cameras, and especially the lighting, in the right way, to produce a good key. Get this right, though, and chromakey can be quite economical too.

But once you have the footage keyed, the only limit on what you can use as a set is your imagination. As Nicholson said during the interview, sometimes it’s simply not economical, even in movie production, to send talent and a crew to film a few seconds-long scene in a Parisian phone box. But green screen makes that possible.

Is it easy being green (screen)?

For video journalism, the advantage of green screen lies in allowing the producer to repurpose footage easily, or to switch between say, a newsroom “look” for links and a studio for an interview, and back. For informational videos, it is a great way to add charts or other visuals to a video. Or viewed another way, to add video to an otherwise static PowerPoint.

For some examples of how green screen works — and how the end results can look — check out the quick video I’ve put together. As ever, comments welcome.

There’s more on our green screen production services, and the other studio, video and audio services we offer, over on the ens: media website too.

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About stephenpritchard
Freelance journalist specialising in business and technology, based in London (UK).

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