Canvas as a Green Screen: Its Role in Photography and Video Production

If you’ve ever watched a meteorologist on a televised weather forecast, you’ve seen a green screen in action. What is a green screen? It’s a green backdrop that allows photographers and videographers to change the background during post-production. It’s a process known as chroma keying, and it’s used in TV, movies, and videos.

When actors fight battle scenes against giant robots or monsters, they’re not actually fighting those villains. They’re filming the action sequences against a vivid green backdrop. The monsters, aliens, robots, etc. are added in during editing to make it look like they were there all along. That’s the beauty of a green screen.

Why is green used? Technically, a green screen can be any color, but green is the least similar to the color of your skin, so skin tone isn’t canceled out in post-production. If you’ve ever seen a person wearing green clothing against a green screen, you see their body disappear. Green hides a lot, but skin is the one thing that won’t get lost. 

What is a green screen made of? They should be a material that stands up to heat from the stage lights. Green is ideal, but you can also use blue if that’s what’s available. You do need to make sure the fabric is flame-retardant.

The Benefits of Using Canvas For a Green Screen

What are the benefits of using canvas for your green screen? There are several starting with the price of a canvas tarp and where you can use it. Cotton canvas is affordable and easily used both indoors and outdoors. As it’s water and mildew-resistant, it’s not going to experience damage if you’re outside and it starts raining.

Heavy-duty canvas tarps withstand heavy use without ripping or tearing. Stretch it, fold it up, expose it to winds, and you’ll find it doesn’t wear out. Once you’ve invested in a canvas tarp, it is going to last years. Even better, canvas tarps don’t wrinkle, so you won’t waste time steaming or ironing out wrinkles before your shoot.

The canvas tarps we sell are not shiny, which is what you need. Reflective materials like vinyl tarps, a wall painted in gloss paint, poly tarps, and satin all have a sheen that can create reflections and glare in some situations. You need to avoid that with a non-reflective green screen.

The final benefit is that a canvas tarp is easy to carry with you. You can set them up with ease, move them around, fold them up, and bring them to the next location without any hassle.

How to Set Up and Use Canvas Green Screens 

Before filming or photographing anything, you need a green screen that’s going to work well. You cannot have wrinkles or tears, as they will be visible in the final product. You need to have a solid green or blue backdrop that’s stretched tightly from one pole or tree to another, on a wall, or on some type of track system.

Make sure the green screen is large enough for the action and poses you’re using. If you’re not certain what you have chosen is large enough, it’s better to size up and have too much than run short and ruin a shot.

The material has to be thick. If it’s too thin, lighting from behind can seep through. This is one reason why canvas tarps make exceptional green screens; they’re thick enough to block any light behind them.

Build stands to hold the green screen and lights properly. You don’t want them tipping over in the middle of your video or photo shoot. If you don’t have a large budget, even a frame built out of some cheap 2 x 4s is going to be sturdy enough.

Tips for Using Canvas Green Screens With Photography and Video Production

Make sure you choose a spot where shadows and sun glare are minimal, but you also need enough lighting that the entire green screen is lit. You want a location with ample backlighting, and complete the shoot before the sun changes and is behind the backdrop, which leads to glare.

Once you have the green screen in place, make sure there is lighting pointed at the green screen and on each side of the green screen. This helps prevent shadows. You may need to diffuse the lighting on the sides, but you can pick up multi-disc photo reflector and diffuser packages or lamp socks for less than $20 at many online retailers. It will help you avoid frustration with lighting that’s too bright during your shoot.

When you’re shooting videos or photographs, leave room between the green screen and people or animals to avoid them creating shadows on the green screen. If you can do a few test shots first, make sure things are set up before you start the actual shoot. This eliminates frustration as you have to adjust the location to get things right.

Go over your subject’s clothing and accessories beforehand. Reflective fabrics are harder to edit. Green clothing will disappear and must be avoided. Again, once the subject is dressed, do a test run and make sure there are no issues with the outfits and accessories, and adjust them if there are issues.

If you’re shooting video footage, shoot it in RAW format or the highest bit rate possible. This makes it much easier to work with during post-production. Photographers need a high-quality camera and an aperture of F4 or F5.6. Avoid having the ISO too high. You also want to have a fast shutter speed. The cleaner the lines on the people or animals in your shots, the better it is when it comes to editing.

Our Pick For the Best Canvas for Photography and Video Production

What is the best canvas tarp for photography and video production? We recommend a chroma key background when possible. Chicago Canvas & Supply has chroma key backgrounds available in green or blue. It’s 9’ 10” wide and napped on one side. We sell it by the running yard with a 5-yard minimum. 

Ask us for a sample. You can also reach Chicago Canvas‘s customer support team via chat and learn about related products like curtain trolleys, tracks, and track ends. It’s much easier to change photography backdrops when your backdrops are easily accessed through a trolly system.

We also have flame-retardant 16-ounce canvas tarps, but they’re only available in olive drab. If you’re not using hot lights, any of our affordable tarps in bright green make excellent green screens. We have a large selection of weights available. We do feel that our chroma key backgrounds are a better option and are also flame-retardant. Don’t miss out on our fall canvas sale. Coupon code TARPS15 gives you a 15% discount on your canvas tarp purchase.