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What Is a Green Screen.

A green screen is a backdrop against which footage is shot to later be superimposed over a separately-filmed background in a visual effects process called “chroma keying.” It is also known as chroma key compositing, color keying, or simply keying.

The green screen is a central part of this chroma key process, allowing filmmakers to isolate the actor from their bright green background and then introduce a separate background in post production. Essentially, movie makers digitally key in on the green value, remove it using editing software, isolate the actor(s), and then replace it with separate background footage or still imagery.

While a blue screen is also utilized and has been since the 1930s, green screens are the current standard in the film industry since green is both distant from human skin tones and relatively less common in costuming and props than the color blue. This is important because, when using chroma key, nothing in the shot can be the same color as the background—if, say, a character’s shirt is also green, the shirt will be removed in chroma keying and also replaced with the background image.

Green screens are not restricted to motion pictures and are also commonly used in TV newscasts (particularly with the weather map in a weather forecast), video games, and music video production.

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