Green Screening 101

At the CEMS LLC, we have an incredible Green Screen studio that we added as part of our big renovation. But we have many people who ask: How do I make a Green Screen video?

1. Film your scene(s) in front of a Green Screen. You may want to think about what you will be putting in the background as you film. For example, if you want to be walking past the Great Wall of China, where does it appear in the background photo you will be using? Position yourself somewhere that makes sense for the image you are using. When meteorologists do a weather report, they don’t stand in front of the area they are talking about. (Also, make sure you don’t wear any green!)


NOTE: You can do your filming on any device, but you will need to move the footage to a Mac Desktop or Laptop with iMovie to add the Green Screen effects and do the film editing. 

2. In this video, students wrote and performed a poem about Paul Revere’s ride. So we will be adding images about Revolutionary War Era Boston in the background. Once we finished filming in the studio, we then used AirDrop to move the footage onto a desktop Mac.

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3. On the desktop or laptop, search for and save the image (or images) you plan to use in the background. Remember that Google lets you search for images using several filters at the same time. First type in your search terms and click “Images” in Google. Then click on “Search Tools” and choose Size -> Large (so you have high resolution photos) and Usage Rights -> Labeled for noncommercial reuse (which means you are permitted to use them for your project).

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4.  Save the images you like to your laptop or desktop so they can be imported into your final project.

5. Now open iMovie and import your video footage into iMovie. You can use either the Import Arrow (on the top bar) or File -> Import Media.

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NOTE: From this point forward, you may want to refer to the iMovie Help File called “Use a green-screen or blue-screen effect to superimpose one clip over another”

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6. Next, do the same thing for your photos — import them from your desktop — so they are also added to iMovie.

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7.  Now, create a New Movie under the File menu and name your file.

8. Begin by dragging your BACKGROUNDS (not your Green Screen footage) into the Timeline window at the bottom of the screen.

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9. Adjust the length that each image will be on screen to match how long the clip will be playing in front of that background. In other words, if you have a 10 second clip, adjust the time that the background image is on screen to be 10 seconds, too.

10. Now, select your Green Screen film clip(s) and drag them into the Timeline window above your background images.

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11. Next select your entire Green Screen clip and choose the first button on the left on the top bar of the Preview pane. This button shows a solid box on top of a dotted line box and it should say “Video overlay settings” when you hover over it.

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12. Drop down to Green/Blue Screen and your video and image should now appear combined in the Preview window.

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13. You will now need to use several tools in the Preview pane to reduce the “see through” effect. The most effective one is the “Eraser” next to “Clean-up” in the Preview window. Tap on the eraser and then tap on the image below where you see the most washed out colors.

14. You may also wish to add titles, transitions and effects just like you would in a typical iMovie.

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Here’s how our project turned out!