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Green screen

What is a green screen?

A green screen is a large green backdrop used in digital videos to insert a virtual background. Special visual effects are added in place of the green screen during the video editing process. You can also use a green screen with a live video and replace the background in real time, as you’re broadcasting. This process is called chroma keying.

Why is it called a green screen?

The name green screen comes from the large green backdrop placed in the background of the shot. It’s literally a green screen. Green was originally chosen for the color because most people don’t have green skin or hair.

To get the special visual effect to work, you have to replace the green screen with your virtual image or video using editing software. You don’t want to replace the person standing in front of the green screen, though, so they need to be a different color than the backdrop. Most people aren’t green, so green is a good color for replacing the background. That’s where the name green screen comes from.

Is a green screen just green fabric?

Technically, yes, you can use just about any fabric to create a green screen. It doesn’t necessarily have to be green either. However, there are certain fabrics that work better as green screens than others. Also, green or blue are usually the best colors to use.

The best green screen fabric choices are either muslin, nylon or spandex. Green screen fabric shouldn’t be reflective because it will mess up the special effect. For that reason, muslin is a good choice. However, screen greens also shouldn’t be wrinkly, and muslin wrinkles pretty easily when you fold it up and store it. If you want less-wrinkly fabric, try spandex or nylon. They can stretch and create a smoother green screen — but they also reflect more light than muslin.

Get more tips about how to choose a green screen and the best green screens for live streaming in our detailed guide.