Green Screen Lighting: A Guide on How to Light a Green Screen

Although the equipment and software required to create your green screen effects are now available to consumers at affordable prices, there are still some skills needed to get the best results. One of those skills is setting up the green screen so your video editor can effectively key it out.

One of the most important parts of setting up a green screen is getting the lighting right. In this post, we'll tell you how you can light your green screen like a pro so you'll be able to pull clean keys from it quickly.

Why is Lighting Important?

Chroma key software removes the green from your green screen video and works by looking at each pixel and comparing it to a target color. Ideally, every pixel would be the exact same shade of green. This is nearly impossible in practice, however. Whatever material your screen is made of has a texture that affects the color of the pixels, which is beyond your control. What is in your control is how the light hits the screen. If the light is not even, or if the screen is wrinkly, there will be light and shadow areas that create many different shades of green rather than a single unified color. Proper green screen lighting setup minimizes this issue and makes pulling the key much faster and cleaner.

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How to Light a Green Screen

Now that you know what light is important, it's time to learn how to light a green screen. You'll want a good green screen lighting kit to do this. Throughout the tips below, we'll talk about what kind of lights should be included in your kit and what will increase your screen's quality.

Smoothen the screen

We've already discussed how wrinkles in the screen can lead to uneven color and make it harder to key the shot. You should store your green screen properly folded, so any wrinkles are minimized. It can also help to iron it before you use it to minimize any creases that formed from folding it. Finally, you can use clamps to pull it taught and reduce wrinkles as well.

Use soft light

The best lights for green screen lighting will have a high amount of diffusion. Hard light produces hard shadows, and those make it harder for the keying software to see which pixels it's supposed to be removed and which are supposed to stay.

Avoid shadows

Using a soft light will minimize the impact of the shadow but won't eliminate them. Try to position your lights so that there is even lighting on the screen. This usually means using more than one light. At the least, you should have a light on either side of the screen.

Use a backlight

In addition to avoiding shadows and creating even lighting, your green screen lighting kit should be able to separate the foreground from the background as much as possible. A backlight helps to provide some extra contrast between foreground and background that further aid your video editor software in removing the correct pixels.

Don't use green clothing/props

This one may seem obvious but has even caught professional newscasters off guard a few times. Your software will remove anything green, so your onscreen talent should not be wearing anything green. You can get away with it if the green is far enough away in hue from that of your screen, but it will be a pain to get the thresholds set correctly, so it's best to avoid green altogether.


Getting the lighting right is essential, and so is having editing software that can work with green screen videos of varying quality.  Tools like VideoStudio make it easy to pull professional quality keys from your green screen footage.

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Download a free 30 day trial now!