4 Tips To Get Hollywood-Like Chroma Key Results

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Do you want your guests to feel even more immersed in your event? Then you definitely need to check out the chroma key technology. For those who never heard of it, chroma key is the technology that replaces a solid colored background with an image of your choice. It means that you can use this technology to add a beach background and make your guests think that they are on a beautiful island!

But you don’t need to be a movie director to use the chroma key magic! Here are 4 tips on how to achieve Hollywood-like chroma key results in no time.

1. Blue or Green Screen – which is better?

Obviously, the first thing you will need is a solid colored backdrop. The typical color is green because it is not a color that matches natural skin-tone or hair color. But chroma key technology also works with a blue backdrop. The choice to use a green or blue screen is up to you. Each option has pros and cons:

Green Screen

Pros:

  • Green is a very reflective color which means it is easy to light.
  • Due to its reflective characteristics, your pictures will be sharper and of better quality.
  • Green screens are very versatile and can be used indoors, outdoors or in a studio setting.

Cons:

  • If your subject has blond hair, you will probably have a green bleeding effect around the hair due to the reflection of the green background.

Blue Screen

Pros:

  • Blue is less reflective, which will reduce the green bleeding effect.
  • It works best with low-light, which is great to replicate darker or nighttime conditions.

Cons:

  • Blue is a color that is more likely to be worn by your guests. It means that you risk erasing part of their clothes in the process.
  • Since this is a less reflective color, it will be trickier to light it properly, especially during the day.

2. The right backdrop for you.

Once you’ve chosen the color of the backdrop, you need to select the right material.

Cloth

One of the first choices you have is to use a cloth or fabric backdrop. It’s one of the cheapest options, which is great if you’re on a tight budget. But it’s also a tricky fabric to work with. You will need to be careful with it to avoid wrinkles on the fabric. On top of that, you will need to carry around the stands, poles, and clamps everywhere. It’s not the most recommended option if you change the location a lot.

Wrinkles are your enemy!

One of the most important things is to make sure that your backdrop is completely wrinkle-free. Wrinkles create imperfections and will cause problems with the chroma key.
If you use a folding green screen, be careful when you fold it to avoid the wrinkles. You should also always have clamps on hand to be able to tense the material and have it as smooth as possible. If needed, you might also want to invest in a portable steamer.

Paper

A paper backdrop is cheap and is an alternative to cloth, as it doesn’t get any wrinkles. It’s also very light and easy to carry. You will just need to carry one stand and the roll of paper.

However, it also has a lot of disadvantages. Most of the papers have a glossy finish, which will result in a lot of color spill on your picture. Paper is also a delicate material which can be easily damaged.

If you chose to use chroma key paper, we recommend you use the Savage Paper Tech Green #46. It delivers the best results in our experience.

Pop Up Screen

If you are looking for a backdrop that can be transported easily, then this one might be the one for you. Those kinds of backdrop collapse and expand without effort. They are usually made of a synthetic material which is also wrinkle-free. This is a reflective material which will be easy to light.

But if you need your backdrop to cover a large surface, then the pop-up screen isn’t for you. The chroma key surface is small and won’t be able to fit a large group of people.

Our personal favorite? The Elgato Green Screen.

3. Get the perfect light set-up

Now you need to properly light your chroma-key backdrop. Keep in mind that depending on the material of the screen, the color and the place where you set it up, you might need more lights.

You usually need two main lights for the backdrop and one for the guests. The lights for the background should be placed on each side of the backdrop, at a 45° angle. The goal is to evenly light the backdrop and avoid shadows.

Don’t hesitate to make a test shot and to play around with the setting of the lights. You will find the combination that works best for you through lots of experimentation. But be careful to not overexpose your backdrop with too much light.

4. The space between the background and the subject

The last thing you need to watch out for is the shadow that your subject will cast on the screen. You don’t want any, because it won’t look good in the final picture. To avoid that green shadow, we recommend that you respect a certain space between the chroma key screen and your subject. Ideally, space should be 6 feet wide – around 2 meters. Having the subject so far from the screen will also help to prevent the bleeding effect.

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