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Using the green screen in your video: good or bad idea?

Laura Schmitz by:Laura Schmitz on: November 7, 2017

A Chroma key allows inlays in photos and videos. It is a technique that has long been exclusively used by the film industry. Technically, the goal here is to superpose, usually an actor, to a set that has been filmed or created on a computer.

The most commun example is the television journalist on the news who uses it to display pictures to illustrate his words. Today some organizations creating training videos or lessons are considering this as a new tool. So is it a good or a bad idea?
At UbiCast, after nearly 10 years following the evolution of video uses and the needs of our customers, we have seen that it really depends on your internal resources and your aesthetic expectations. We will see here, when the green screen can be a good option, and when it is better to avoid it.

Jean-Claude Vandamme filmed with a green screen. 



Logo UbiCast

Inlay of Jean-Claude Vandamme on the UbiCast logo.

You do not have a lot of internal resources (human or technical) to dedicate to creating video content

You should avoid it.


With a green background, the installation is very important and can be complex if your company does’nt have technical skills. The light and the angle of view must be perfectly controlled and adapted to the green background.


In addition, it must be kept in mind that for this installation it takes a lot of space: there is at least 1 meter distance between the background and the “presenter”, and an even bigger distance between the camera and the person filmed . Not all institutions have the luxury of being able to dedicate one of their big rooms for video recordings.

The device is also greedy in terms of technical resources. If you don’t have the skills in your company to focus on mastering the green background, many problems can emerge during the production of the video:

couleurs-bavent teint-pale contour-pas-net meteo-fond-vert cheveux-fond-vert

Colors can drool.

The skin of the presenters can appear very pale. The background must be illuminated homogeneously but must not shine on the character otherwise the contours of the silhouettes may not be clear. The characters should not wear green clothing, unless they want to be the invisible man.

Curly or messy hair or any other fine detail such as vaporous clothing makes cutting the inlay complicated.


 The master of all these skills is of course a proper job: color grading. If you do not have someone specialized in color grading internally, or even a position that is close to it, it is better to avoid the green screen.


A well filmed video without a particular background, can give a more controlled and therefore professional result. The user is completely autonomous and a lot less human and technical resources are needed.

You want to monetize your videos (MOOCs, training, lessons, courses)

The green screen is a good idea.

You have probably noticed that MOOCs are a concept that is gaining in popularity. Most of these online courses are not free, indeed customers expect a qualitative training with great videos and speakers! The green background well controlled can give a professional and playful aspect very appreciable.
You can script the videos by adapting the backgrounds according to the topics, or animate your presentation around the presenter. Just remember then, that the most important factor for a successful overlay, is the separation of foreground colors (the subject) and the background (the screen).

You do not have a lot of time for the video production

You should avoid it.

Filming a video with a green background is an interesting opportunity to “script” an intervention. But be careful, because this method of filming can quickly become very time-consuming, for these reasons:

Difficult adaptation of the presentation support: Using a green background means adapting your presentation support (slides most of the time). Indeed, the presenter taking a lot of space in the video, it is necessary to “make room” within the slides. It is therefore necessary to rework these classic presentations accordingly, to apprehend the positions of the presenter and to remove too much information (for lack of space).

On the left, the presenter hides half of the information on the slides, while on the right, the presentation is simple, clear and without constraint for the speaker.

pen-blueHere, these skills are usually mastered by a computer graphics artist. If you do not have an internal graphic designer, or if he / she is not dedicated to the production of video, it is better not to choose the green background: at the risk of producing videos that look unprofessional.

Some solutions propose to record the presenter and the support by two different streams, this way there is no need to modify the presentation.

player-rich-media-800x499Post Production: After a recording with a green background, the post production is a central element to produce a professional looking video. Indeed we must ensure the smooth transition of any animations, make graphic retouching … It is therefore again question of the need for skills available in the company.

Ici on peut voir que les contours de l’interlocuteur bavent sur le fond blanc, et il semble par ailleurs, davantage se concentrer sur la mise en place de l’image que sur son discours… Certaines solutions proposent une édition automatique, l’utilisateur n’a alors pas besoin d’un expert technique pour réaliser une vidéo aboutie, et il peut être totalement autonome pour créer sa vidéo en quelques clics.

You have a budget, a team and dedicated space

Go for the green space!

If you want to make videos with a very professional result, almost like on TV, if you have the necessary budget, and a team of dedicated technical specialists, a space big enough to sacrifice and speakers enthusiastic about the idea of recording this way… Go for it! You will have content that lives up to your expectations with a professional rendering, and your audience will benefit from this dynamic format.

Teachers & trainers are reluctant to the camera

You should avoid the green screen.

Coordinating your gestures with visuals you do not see (with a green background) can be very complicated and destabilizing for the speaker:

  • Teachers and trainers must be comfortable with the idea of this kind video recording, most of the time they want a simple and not time-consuming (their schedules are already well filled) process. If an additional constraint is added (adaptation to the green background), this can be handicaping.
  • A speech held naturally will have much more impact on the audience because it keeps the human aspect. Indeed, the spectators will really feel like being in front of their teacher or collaborator, and not facing a “journalist” or an “actor”. It is therefor recommend to limit the constraint of recording for non professional speakers.

pink dog in front of a green screenThe use of the green background was reserved for television and movie professionals. As this interview with BFMTV journalists shows, inlay requires a lot of technical skills in the production, but also a good mastery of the tool for the speakers. Even some TV channels give up on the green screen, having found more intuitive alternatives. For the examples, presenters on LCI and France TV doesn’t use green background anymore, but classic screens much more practical.

To summarize, we can be quickly seduced by the dynamic visuals and the effect “as on TV” that offers the green background, however this format is not necessarily suitable for all. We must take into consideration all aspects in terms of: techniques, staff, budget, time, space … If you fill all these points and you want a high quality visual rendering, then the green background is suitable for you. If you do not fill one of these boxes, then we can only advise you not to choose the green background.

AndrewNg-400x279I’ll finish with one thing: the most viewed MOOC video in the world is Andrew Ng from Standford University on Machine Learning, who has recorded from his webcam in a meeting room … #foodforthoughts 🙂

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