If you've been watching our weekly video tips series, you've probably noticed that we often choose to shoot against a solid white screen background.  Shooting against a solid black or white background is a popular choice for web videos as it helps create an intimate setting, removing visual distractions so that your viewers can focus their attention on the subject.  Additionally, you can use the negative space of the solid background to showcase graphics, text, or b-roll.

We've covered the basics of how to create an infinite white background and on this week's Reel Rebel, Stephen Schweickart dives in a bit deeper to provide some additional tips to follow to ensure a good looking video when shooting against a white screen background.

Tips for Shooting & Lighting White Screen Videos:

First, if you want a white background in your video you should shoot it on a white screen - not a green screen.  You can do this with greenscreen by chroma keying and then adding a white solid but you'll have a difficult time keying out all the green which will result in green spill on your talent.  It's far easier to start with a white background.

Use a set of lights that evenly illuminates the backdrop and then a separate set of lights to light your talent.  This will help to prevent shadows from showing up on your background from lighting your subject alone.  Using this method also allows you to modify the brightness you want on your talent without effecting the brightness of the white behind them.

The size of the white will determine how many lights you need to have to get the light even on the backdrop.  For a waist up shot you can get away with using 3-4 lights at the most.  One on either side, one above in the center and if necessary one underneath.

A couple other things will make shooting on a white backdrop easier.  First, the simplest way to check if the white is evenly lit is to close the iris on your camera all the way down to one stop before it's completely closed.  The white background should come across as a dark grey and you should be able to see the discrepancies of the grey where the lights are brighter than others.

If you are using a standard three-point lighting setup for your talent, be careful of the effect the back light is having on your talent.  On white it can sometimes put too sharp of an edge light on your talent making them appear to blend into your background as opposed to separating them from it.  Either use a less intense light or even try no light at all since the white backdrop may be reflecting just enough light to get the look you need.

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  • sameer

    what about against the black screen

  • Frank Schwarz

    Awesome tips and appreciate the fact that you say green screen does not get used with all situations.