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Do I need a green screen for my virtual business background?

You don’t have to use a green screen. You can simply use the wall in your office, but to get the most from your background a green screen is recommended.


Why use a green screen?

If you’ve ever used a virtual background feature without a green screen, you’ve probably noticed the glitches. That’s because without a solid colour background, the software can’t fully differentiate between you and your background. This becomes most apparent when you move and begins to glitch around the edges of your silhouette, such as your neck, head, and arms or fingers.

Enter the green screen.

Green screens have been used for decades in films, on TV and in the video game industries. By putting the actor or presenter in front of a solid green (or sometimes blue) background, technicians can separate the background from the person in post-production and add any image or video they want in the background. This makes it look like the actor or presenter is somewhere else. The best example of this is with the weather forecast where the maps are added in by the production team.

Using the same principle, using a physical green screen for proper performance of the virtual background feature. To use a green screen for online meetings, you can purchase and set up a green screen kit in your home office or other workspace.


When NOT to use a green screen

While a green screen can be useful, they’re not always the best choice. If you’re entering into an interview situation, meetings with bank managers, lawyers etc, a green screen is likely to undermine your professional image.

Why? Because green screens with virtual backgrounds can create a subtle impression that something is off.

Even with advances in technology, a green screen is relatively easy to spot. Because the person in the frame is in a different space than the background, it’s impossible to make them look completely natural. While your virtual background may look a lot better with a green screen, it will still look like a virtual background, mostly because of differences in lighting, coloration, and focus between you in your physical space and the virtual background.


Downsides of green screens for video conferences

If you’re planning to use a green screen for video conferences, you may want to consider some of the following downsides:


Difficulty with lighting

In order to make the green screen effect work, it’s crucial to have proper lighting. The backdrop must be completely wrinkle-free and evenly lit throughout with soft lighting. Otherwise, any variation in lighting will be interpreted as a colour gradient.

Achieving this can be very difficult in a home office setting, and even harder if you’re in a temporary workspace. If you have natural light coming into your room through a window, the lighting on your face will change depending on the amount of light, but your background will not. The best way to avoid this is by having a physical background in the same space as you. That way the lighting will be consistent across both you and your background.


Inconsistency across platforms

A green screen on its own is ugly. If you’re using a video platform that doesn’t have virtual backgrounds, this suddenly becomes a liability. Now you just have an ugly green colour behind you. This looks bad on other platforms, and it doesn’t look or feel great to have in your workspace.

With a physical backdrop, you’ll have the same background no matter what platform you’re on Although screen size changes can mean you have to move your computer (or background if using a desktop) to ensure your background fits correctly.


Lack of portability

If you have a lot of space to hang a large green fabric and you’re only doing video meetings from that location, a green screen isn’t a problem. But if you have a smaller space, need to move your background, or travel, moving a green screen setup quickly becomes infeasible.

While there are smaller, portable options like collapsible backgrounds that can be used as a green screen, these come with their own issues

If portability is an issue try using your digital background without it. Just make sure you wear clothing that the computer can distinguish you from the background.


Recommended setup

  • To achieve the best virtual background effect, use a green screen. You can easily purchase one of these online.

  • Higher quality cameras result in a better virtual background.

  • Use uniform lighting and colour.

  • Do not wear clothing that is the same colour as the virtual background.

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