The age old question: “Which is better for chromakey; a green screen or a blue screen?”

Everyone wants to know: Is there a difference? Is one easier to light than the other? Is it  just personal preference? The answer is: all of the above.

Believe it or not, ladies and gentlemen, there IS a complicated science that goes along with creating chromakey blue and chromakey green screens. It has to do with the Bayer pattern and color channels, and other mumbo jumbo that I know means nothing to you. You look to me for the straight simple answers, so that is what I’m going to give you.

Back in the day, the chromakey bluescreen was created for film, because it is the furthest color in the visual spectrum from red (which is the predominant color in human skin tone). However, as the industry made the move to digital, green became the favored backdrop of the two. Video cameras are most sensitive to the color green, which is similar to the human eye’s own sensitivity to green light. Because of this fact, the greenscreen produces the cleanest “key” and is now the most popular backdrop color to use.

So which one do you choose? Let’s consider the options. As we all know, the most important factor for chomakey is that there needs to be very distinct color separation between your subject (the foreground) and the screen (your background). So if you are shooting someone with blue eyes, or wearing blue clothing, you will want to go with the greenscreen. If you are shooting plants, or anything else that is predominantly green, you will want to go with a bluescreen. Both of these colors will key out nicely with virtually any type of chromakey editing software.

However, keep in mind that a greenscreen needs less light than the bluescreen, meaning you can get away with having fewer lights (which can save you money and time). Also, if you plan on shooting outdoors, use a greenscreen so you don’t have to worry about accidently keying out the sky on a bluescreen.

What do I suggest? If you are shooting on high quality film and have a nice light setup, you can make brilliant work with a blue screen. If you shoot with a digital camera, and your subjects might wear blue, your best bet will be a greenscreen. At the end of the day, it does come down to personal preference. You can make it work with either color.

Hope this helps ease your puzzled brains. Now go make some magic happen!

GreenMan

SIMPLE GREENSCREEN TIPS:

  • Place your subject at least 5-6 feet away from the screen for a better key. Any closer and you may encounter what we call  “green spill”, or a green halo effect around your subject that is difficult to key out.
  • Light your screen evenly to minimize shadows that can cause problems during keying process.
  • Make sure your screen isn’t wrinkled. Wrinkles will not key out properly. A quick ironing job should do the trick.

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