Several of our clients have asked about shooting a spokesperson against a white screen or a green screen, but many people aren’t really sure which one they want or for what reasons. Numerous Web videos, especially informational ones, are filmed against white backgrounds not only for the simplicity of production but also for creating a more focused visual field. Filming against a green screen (or blue screen, in the past) is an entirely different type of process with different end-goals. Knowing which setup makes the most sense for your corporate video depends largely on need, so let’s take a look at both processes and outcomes.
White Screen Videos
Using a white background or white screen allows the spokesperson or actor to be the sole focus of the composition, often removing any possible distractions present in an office setting or a heavily production-designed desk. Shooting against a white background has added benefits, though, in allowing for adding text elements, motion graphics, and even B-roll fields to the sides of the actor. Shooting against a white screen is often the best way to provide flexibility in delivering additional information in post-production because it gives the editor a lot of space with which to play.
From a production standpoint, the videographer just needs to make sure the white background is evenly lit. Usually, a videographer will find 3-4 lights enough to cover the background in an even light where there are no obvious bright spots or dark shadows. Separate lighting is used on the actor or spokesperson just as with a standard interview. Overall, consequently, the lighting needs are greater for a white screen shoot than for a simple interview, so additional time should be allocated for setup and takedown.
Though a small extra cost may follow from the additional time and lighting, shooting against a white screen or white background is usually a fairly inexpensive way to produce a quality video, depending on post-production elements added later.
Green Screen Videos
Shooting against a green screen is most often used in major budget Hollywood features where digital elements will be added later. For instance, though the Star Wars prequels actually contain amongst the most models, miniatures, and sets ever constructed for film, almost every shot has some digital element that needed to be added later. That meant shooting on stages with massive green screens in the background, where digital effects artists could later add skyscrapers, air traffic, or other features. The actors are isolated from the green screens in post-production in a process known as chroma key compositing, or just chroma keying.
The filming process for green screen work is very similar to white screen in the sense that the screen should be evenly lit throughout, the actor or actors are lit separately, and post-production work allows for the manipulation of background elements. The difference is the difficulty in keying out green screens, which is often a time-consuming process especially if the footage is not perfectly lit. Additionally, unless done by skilled professionals, elements of green may remain around the subject or subjects. For most corporate video production, white screen filming is more common than green screen, but both have their advantages and uses depending on budget level and need.