This blog began in 2010 as part of the publisher’s promotional materials for my travel book, The Single Girl’s Guide to Meeting European Men. The book rose to #1 on Amazon’s Best-Sellers List within two weeks of publication, and is still selling. The blog has been expanded to cover my other pursuits.

Green Screen 101: How to Film Yourself in a Cool Location When You Can’t Be There

March, 28, 2016

I received an email from a high school student who was making a video for her senior project. She purchased an editing program and dreamed up tons of incredible ideas, but none of them were in places where it was feasible to film herself. She realized that I faced a similar problem with the waterfall scenes in my St. John video, and asked how I did them. Some of you may have the same question, so I’m sharing the answer:

St. John

1. Shoot on a green screen. Obviously, I couldn’t film myself in a gorgeous gown standing on muddy ground while being sprayed by a powerful waterfall! So I got green screen paper from a photo store and filmed myself in front of that. There are a number of materials that can be used for a green screen. Although paper gets damaged more easily than something like canvas, I like it because it’s much cheaper.

2. “Green screens” come in a variety of colors. Choose one that is not the same as the color you are wearing. Otherwise, your image will disappear when you try to place it in your video.

3. Set up your screen anywhere with good, even light. I did this shoot in my friend’s living room.

4. You don’t have to have a friend to help you pull this off, but it’s more fun. I love it when someone volunteers to help, but I’ve done many shoots all by myself. I just put my camera on a tripod, hit “on,” and hop in front of it.

5. Place your paper on any stand that is level, and high and wide enough to cover you. This can be a DYI. Here we used tape to hold the paper in place.

6. If you want to film yourself full-length, roll out the paper far enough on the floor for you to stand on it.

7. Do not create any shadows, otherwise the green screen might not drop out when you put your image into your video. You can accomplish this by standing ten feet in front of where the paper hangs. We didn’t have enough space here to do that, so we made sure that the light was very even to keep shadows to a minimum, and it worked.

8. When you film, make sure every part of you stays on or in front of the paper. Anything that goes off the paper will not drop into the video.

9. Go to your background location and film what you visualize standing in front of.

10. Import all your footage into an editing program. I use Final Cut Pro X. If you’re familiar with this editing program, the following steps will make total sense. If not, I’d suggest watching YouTube video-editing tutorials to get a basic feel for the program. That is how I learned.

11. Put your footage together.

Drag the green-screen clips into your timeline. Crop out anything you filmed that went off the green-screen so only those sections remain. Drag in your desired background and place the clip underneath your green screen clip. Use a keying mask to drop out the green screen background. Play around in the Inspector with features like the edges to make the image and background meld together as cohesively as possible.

You can do it!

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