What is a blue screen?
A blue screen is a popular color variant of the chroma-keying method commonly used in video editing. The screen has low brightness and, therefore, best for dim-light video shoots.
Blue screens are used in film production to give top-quality results with neater edges and smaller grains.
Here are the upsides of using a blue screen in video production;
- There is little or no color spill around the subject.
- Blue screens are of darker shades and hence do not reflect light rays.
- It is ideal for producing darker edges and can be best for shooting dark scenes or nighttime.
Despite the advantages of a blue screen, here are the downsides of using one;
- Blue screens are not budget-friendly in the sense that they require an additional source of lighting to work effectively during daytime or in bright areas.
- The color blue is too common. The blue color of some costumes and clothing materials tamper with the blue screen if the subject happens to have such on. This becomes a problem as it takes a longer time to edit such work.
What is a green screen?
The name green screen speaks for itself. A green screen is simply a green-colored background used as a chroma-key method for post video production and editing.
On a color wheel, green is far away from the shades of colors on the human skin tones, and it is highly luminous that can be used for daylight filmmaking.
Here are the advantages of using a green screen;
- It has a wider range of information coverage. The green screen captures every detail about the subject.
- A green screen does not require extra lighting to function.
- This screen is ideal for a noisy background as it picks less noise.
- The screen light is brighter and can be used to portray daytime.
Although, green screens have a lot of advantages over blue screens. However, the green screen has its own disadvantages;
- Green scenes are not ideal for dark spots and nighttime.
- There is a high amount of color spill- Green scene lights are usually very bright and reflect more light behind the subject. Therefore, too much reflection of light will mess with the subject.
Why blue screen and green screen?
The blue and green colors are important in a technique called chroma keying used in video production and editing. So now the question arises, what is chroma keying?
Chroma keying technology is simply the art of turning real backgrounds into unreal ones by video editors. This technology uses blue and green colors to cut out subjects from their real environment into whatever imagined environment they desire. (1)
How is chroma tech possible? The human skin has different color shades such as red and yellow except for blue and green colors. For the technique to work, editors need to cut out subjects from the initial background. A blue or green screen, therefore, allows for human subjects to stand out during editing.
Blue screen vs. green screen analysis: how do they differ?
Generally, the obvious difference between a blue and green screen is their colors. However, both screens have their unique purposes.
Here are the factors to consider before choosing a blue screen vs. green screen;
- Degree of color spill
The difference in the color spill is a top factor to consider in the blue vs. green screen comparison. Color spill goes a long way in determining the quality of work done and also the ease of editing video after production.
Compared to green screens, blue screens have little or no tendency for color to spill around the subject. On the other hand, Green screens have a large amount of color spill because the screen is highly reflective.
So light rays are easily bounced about, and most times, this causes the formation of the hue of colors around the subject, leaving the editor with much work to do after the shoot.
- The difference in screen’s luminosity
This is a significant parameter that better analyses blue screen vs. green screen. How bright a blue or a green screen is another tool to consider before choosing a screen for videography.
The green screen has higher lighting than the blue screen, and as a result, screens in green color can capture larger areas at once. (2) It is easier to capture bigger spots with a green screen than a blue screen with lower lighting.
- Cost of production
In the cost comparison of green vs. blue screen, using blue screens require extra lighting to give amazing results. Hence, pros may spend more than usual to provide an additional source of light. So, for low-budget filmmaking, consider using a green screen.
- Digital cameras
Here is another important factor to consider in the green vs. blue screen analysis. Unlike in the olden times where films were used to shoot videos, films have become obsolete, and digital cameras for video shooting are the new trend.
Digital cameras have been found to work better with green screens. This is because cameras need brighter light to give quality work; a green screen better supplies that kind of light. Hence, choose a green screen when working with digital cameras.
- The prevalence of blue color
Blue is a dominant color, and it is present in most clothing and costumes. Most times, subjects and objects have blue tones on them. Using a blue screen will not be the best of ideas because the background color will contrast the subject color. For such a situation, a green screen will be preferred over a blue screen.
- Time factor
The time factor is also important in comparing the blue vs. green screen. What does the time factor imply? It means that the time of video shooting influences the choice of screen used.
Blue screen is ideal for nighttime because it has little illumination. Although, a blue screen can also work well during the day with the provision of extra lighting. On the other hand, a green screen is bound to daytime and cannot be used to shoot dark scenes.
For a low budget video shoot and editing, go for a green screen. A green screen produces enough light on it’s own and does not require an extra light source.
When to use blue screen
It is already known that blue screens are on the darker side and are not as bright as green screens, for filming a darker scene or portraying nighttime, which other screen is perfect if not a blue screen.
A blue screen is best used in portraying darkness because it does not encourage color to spill around the subject. Also, there’s less mess associated with a blue screen.
Subjects appear with clean outlines and edges on a blue screen. Blue screens are not limited to nighttime; however, a different light source must be provided to illuminate the screen further to produce brighter results.
When to use green screen
The green screen is highly luminous and has better effects on light than a blue screen. Hence, for a video that portrays daytime and bright spots, a green screen is a go-to.
A green screen makes the edges of the subject being worked upon less obvious and makes film editing an easier task to accomplish. It is also known to pick up less noise from the background, so green screens can be used for filming with less worry over noise interference.
Not only that, a green screen is best for digital cameras because digital cameras process higher luminance backgrounds better than dull ones. Therefore, green screens are a better fit for cameras.
However, look out for too much color spill, which can be avoided by keeping the subject at a safe distance from the green screen.
A subject should be about six feet close to the green screen. If the subject gets closer than six feet, it may result in too much color spill or unwanted appearing of shadow.
Yes, a blue screen can be used instead of a green screen. However, for a blue screen to have the same brightness effect on the subject as a green screen, an additional light source must be provided during the shoot.
Even though it seems like the green screen won in the blue screen vs. green screen analysis, the place of a blue screen cannot be overlooked in film production and editing.
Blue screens are a better fit for shooting dark scenes and portraying nighttime. Moreover, when it comes to spilling colors, the blue screen has little or no color screen. Hence, there are no unwanted color shades around the subject, and editing is made easy.
What do you think of the blue screen vs. green screen piece? Leave your thoughts in the comment box.
- ASTC Science World Society. (17, September 2018). What is a chroma key? Retrieved from https://www.scienceworld.ca/stories/how-chroma-key-works/
- Mastercraft Staff. (8, November 2020). How to use a green screen: 5 tips for using a green screen. Retrieved from https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-use-a-green-screen#why-is-a-green-screen-green