Behind the Scenes of Video Production: The Green Screen

If you’re planning on having a video production company produce a short Web video for your website, be prepared for a flurry of behind-the-scenes activity. After all, there’s much more involved than lights, camera, and action. When you arrive at the studio, you may be surprised at the lack of a set. In its place, you may see a gaudy green screen.

What Video Green Screens Do

The green screen may be bright and unattractive, but it serves an important function. This green color can effectively be removed from the video and replaced with other images. For example, when you watch a television weather reporter standing in front of weather maps and radar images, the weather reporter is actually standing in front of a green screen. In the television control room, a technician uses a switcher equipped with what’s known as “chroma key” technology to replace the green with a computer generated image. If you’ve ever watched the Suze Orman Show on television, her entire set is chroma key green and computer generated.

Why Chromo Key Green?

Theoretically, you could use chroma key technology with other colors. However chroma key green and chroma key blue are the most popular. These garish colors aren’t commonly used in clothing and props, making them a good choice. Remember, the technology finds all instances of the selected color whether the color is painted on the set or worn as clothing. If the onscreen talent were to wear a chroma key green necktie, that necktie would be replaced with the video intended to appear on the screen behind the talent.

The Green Screen and Online Video

While green screens are commonly used in broadcasting, they’re also used for Web video. If you want a unique background or a polished “broadcast-like” look, shooting your Web video in front of a green screen and replacing the green background with a computer generated or b-roll video background can accomplish that.

Another use for chromo key in the Web video realm involves virtual spokespeople who are superimposed over the actual website. In this case, the chroma key technology doesn’t replace the green background with a new image; it removes the background completely. With a transparent background, only the actor or actress appears. This allows for frameless video overlays and creates the illusion of the actor being a part of the website itself.

When you head to the studio for your next video shoot, don’t be surprised if you’re placed in front of an ugly green screen. If you’re curious, ask the director to show you the composite picture before or after the shoot and enjoy your time behind the scenes!

Technical Considerations when Adding a Virtual Spokesperson to Your Website

Considering adding a virtual spokesperson to your website? Adding a virtual spokesperson to your site can add a whole new level of interactivity and personalization to your website. However, you may be wondering what’s involved or if your site meets the requirements for adding video overlays.

Shooting Video Overlays

If you’ve ever seen a video spokesperson walk onto a website, you’ll notice that only the actor appears; there’s no distracting background and the actor isn’t confined to a media player’s box. In fact, the actor looks as if he is part of the website. In order to create this effect, the original video must be shot in front of a “green screen.” This technology is the similar to the technology used by television stations. For example, when the weather forecaster appears in front of a weather map or satellite image, he is actually standing in front of a bright green wall. Inside the control room, a technician filters out the green color and replaces it with the background images.

When shooting a video spokesperson, the actor performs in front of a green screen just as television weather forecasters do. The green background is removed so that only the actor’s body appears. All background video is rendered transparent, giving the illusion that the video spokesperson is a part of the website’s overall design.

Because the background color, usually a bright green, are filtered out, it’s important that the actor does not wear clothes, jewelry, and other accessories featuring that same shade of green. Otherwise, those items will disappear along with the background. Professional actors and video studio staff members are well aware of this effect and know to avoid it. However, if you want to appear as your site’s own virtual spokesperson, it’s important to be aware of this before your scheduled video shoot date.

Hosting Video Overlays

Fortunately, the technology required to host a virtual spokesperson on your site doesn’t require much technical tweaking on your end. If you have a live website, chances are good that it is fully capable of hosting a virtual spokesperson. In fact, most virtual spokesmodel videos are hosted on the video production company’s website, not yours. All you need to do is enter a line or two of code into your website and the production company takes care of the rest.

Some video spokesperson production companies allow you to host the video overlays on your own or through a third party host. Before you opt to host the video elsewhere, make sure to find out about video streaming and bandwidth requirements because if the server doesn’t have enough bandwidth to support the video overlay, the streaming video could suffer through pauses and other interruptions.

All in all, if you want to incorporate a virtual spokesperson into your website, going with a professional video company from start to finish is the smart move. You’ll have few technical considerations and you’ll have a lively, interactive spokesperson working on your behalf 24/7.