Green Screen Video Tips



Leannne standing on the green screen.

Leannne standing on the green screen.





Happy Fourth of July! As I thought about all of the pyrotechnics of the coming holiday, the special effects the video crews will use to produce that TV special with the Boston Pops and the fireworks from the White House lawn, I had to reflect on my own special effects moment from earlier this week, a green screen video shoot.



The project we’re working on has a learning agent that guides participants through the course. We’re using a combination of still photography and audio along with green screen video. The shot went great, but we did learn a few tricks for future green screen videos:


  • Use a teleprompter. Even if it’s just a few short sentences, it’s hard to remember marks and the script. And since you really want the talent to hit the marks, lessen the burden on the script side.
  • Bring sticky notes! If the learning agent is pointing to buttons on screen, you’ll need to mark them off on the green screen, but sticky notes on the monitor will make sure the people watching know the agent is hitting the mark.
  • Keep it short. Green screen videos are shot in one take, if possible. Thirty seconds to a minute is really about all you need. Another reason the teleprompter is key, too.
  • Use props. The learning agent feels more comfortable when he or she has something to do, besides walk across the screen. Props that illustrate key points give him or her action to take. Picking up a book from a table can be easier than trying to talk to the camera.
  • Set cues for moving hands or changing position. Not everyone feels comfortable on green screen. Offering suggestions of when to move their hands or even walk a bit on screen can be helpful for new talent. We recommended keeping your hands above your waist, as you’re more likely to gesture with them naturally as you speak.
  •  Have hairspray. Editing green screen can get complicated if the learning agent has lots of fly-aways. The hair will get edited out when the background is removed. Our wonderful talent was thoughtful enough to bring her own, but next time I know I’ll have an extra can with me!


If you’re getting started with your own green screen video shoot or any video shoot for that matter, check out I Came, I Saw, I Learned for production tips and tips on purchasing the correct equipment for green screen.

What other tips do you have for producing green screen? I definitely want suggestions before I do our next video shoot!

Hollywood or YouTube – What’s the right level of training video production?

A couple of weeks I completed a video shoot for two short training videos. (When I say “I”, I mean I made sure there were snacks and supplies for my hard working video team.) I know that 90% of my job as project manager on shoot days is making sure that there is sugar around to get us through the afternoon!

Today, I read a post from Clive Shepherd that got me thinking about the decisions we made at that shoot. He argues that training does not need to have “Hollywood” production levels – that learners don’t need or expect it. His first point is that: “You will never in your wildest dreams be able to match ‘Hollywood’ production values or even get anywhere near.” While slightly depressing, it’s true. For those of us working as consultants with clients, it can become a little tricky to communicate this message (without looking like you’re trying to get out of work) and also identify what the production needs of the audience are. From my experience, here are a few questions you need answers to when developing training videos:

  • How will the videos be viewed? A video viewed online in a 2×3 player probably doesn’t need the production value of something seen on a large projection screen.
  • How old is your audience? In my opinion, a younger audience has different expectations than an older one. And while teenagers or twenty-somethings are used to low production videos on You Tube, they are used to videos that move quickly and have a high entertainment value.
  • What’s the budget and timeline ? Many clients have little to no understanding of how much it costs or how long it takes to develop a super-slick video game, or Hollywood movie.

What other questions do you think need to be answered? How do you determine when you are less concerned about production value?

Cool, but Not Necessarily New

I have to admit it, I’m fully adicted to FastCompany. I read the entire magazine, cover to cover, within 48 hours of it hitting my mailbox. And, of course, I love the Heaths of Made to Stick fame. So when I got to December’s column, I was pleasently suprised to see a topic that wasn’t just neat, but related to my world, How to Make Corporate Training Rock. Admist articles touting just how great Ashton Kutcher is at using Twitter and which company was using augmented reality in their ads, there lurked a new cutting-edge technology that would be perfect for my December blog post.


Huh. Well, so perhaps the tool isn’t cutting edge. But the approach was certainly different. Instead of the typical compliance training, perhaps even the typical video with the talking head touting the importance of acting ethically, the article profiled BearingPoint’s series of training videos based on the hit show, The Office. I have no idea if their metrics showed that people learned more from the new videos. But BearingPoint employees certainly loved them. And talked about them. And someone posted them to YouTube. (Really, when was the last time anyone in your organization even printed the Job Aids from an e-learning course, let alone attempted to turn it into a viral video?)

So perhaps the answer isn’t always with the flashy new tool. Instead, we just need to think about the current tools we have a little differently. And video can do so much more today than even a few years ago. Did you know that you can develop videos that are interactive? Meaning the learners can actually click on the screen and cause something to happen. Now instead of watching passively, they have to engage with the video, making decisions for characters or responding to questions embeded in the video.

I’m all for using new tools in learning. I have to admit, I am somewhat of a geek at heart, but I don’t think we should lose sight of the technologies we currently use. We have to push ourselves to adjust our thinking and imagine new ways to use what we have.

New Tool for Explaining Concepts

PC World recently published a list of 101 free web tools. I’m slowly making my way down the list, alphabetically. I’m only through “f” but I’ve found a tool that I really want to share. 

Flowgram allows you to combine several different mediums, including PowerPoint, websites, videos, and pictures, along with on-screen captions. So, instead of creating a document or blog that links out to all different documents, you bring everything into one place. And with your audio over the top of the screens, you can explain what you’re showing.

Here’s a great example that defines Web 2.0


Flogram User Interface

Flogram User Interface


The simple interface is easy to use. It only took me about five mintues to create a sample, using a website, a few photos from Facebook, and my Google Reader. It reminds me of ScreenToaster, but with slightly different functionality. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Revolutionizing Scientific Learning

A statistician married to a poet conveyed a story that for a moment the couple realized that they essentially do the same thing. The statistician tries to make sense of what can’t really be seen or known, the poet says what you can’t really put into words. Meet Drew Berry, he creates visualizations for scientific data that cannot be easily taught in text.

Drew creates beautiful and impacting imagery to teach scientific concepts. He was recently featured in SeedMagazine’s article The Interpreters. The article features how five people are revolutionizing science education using “cutting-edge” tools, such as: animations, videos, and virtual learning. It is exciting to read their stories and understand the impact of emerging trends in education.  After all, these tools are revolutionizing learning for all fields. Take a moment to read the article, and watch Drew Berry’s video. It is truly inspiring to be a part of the revolution.