Green Screen Mistakes (In Studio & On Location) and How to Avoid Them!

Green Screen Mistakes (In Studio & On Location) and How to Avoid Them!

“Wait a second… that’s not real!”

How many times have you caught yourself saying those words while watching a film, TV/streaming episode, video, etc? We’ve all been there. Everything is going great, then suddenly something occurs on screen that just looks off… and you’re not sure why. In today’s blog, I plan to tell you exactly why! That and much more. Together we’ll examine and explore the pros and cons of studio green screen video production and why green screen is crucial in today’s film and video production industry.

From amateur level video productions to high-budget Hollywood films, I’ll help you avoid rookie mistakes in your own videos and spot studio green screen blunders in massive blockbusters. We’ll dive into the many techniques used to produce realistic results that will have your studio green screen video production looking believable and professional. 


Before we get into the nitty gritty, I need to know: are you green when it comes to green screen? Puns aside, what is a green screen? Simply put, it’s a plain green backdrop that serves as a canvas for later visuals to be added digitally (though sometimes VFX [visual effects] are added to the broadcast simultaneous to the shooting, like the weather network radar). 

Can’t reach the mountain top? Set up a green screen, and the mountain top will come to you! But be warned– with great power comes great responsibility. If you bite off more than you can chew with studio green screen video production, the consequences can be quite embarrassing.

“The fear of failing the viewer is what propels our journey towards perfection.”

– Unknown Filmmaker


Why not glean wisdom from a cautionary tale or two? 

Nothing burns itself deeper into our memories than embarrassment, be it firsthand or second-hand. Think of all those cringey B-movies and low quality videos you’ve seen, ones where you feel genuinely bad for the actor. You feel second-hand shame for them because they’re acting within an “environment” they can’t see– a soon-to-be created digital environment the director told them would look good– and the results on the green screen are simply laughable. 

Let’s analyze & offer advice on some green screen struggles that beginners may face.

Too Easy to Make ‘Em Look Queasy

When it comes to green screen video production, in studio or on location, rookie mistakes are easy to make. One such mistake is placing your subject(s) too close to the green screen, which results in an ugly green hue smearing the edges of the face, body and even clothing (if it’s reflective enough). This unwanted effect will be obvious green screen amateurism to seasoned viewers, and to the uneducated, it will look like the subject is nauseous and ready to puke. You don’t want your video production associated with puke, do you? 

QUICK FIX: Create at least 6 feet of separation between your subject and the green screen. No, not because the green screen might catch COVID– the reason is to eliminate the spill of the green screen from pouring onto your subject. If you’re dealing with a portable green screen (much smaller than a studio green screen), then adapt your shooting style to accommodate limited space. Always maintain that 6-foot distance to keep your subjects from looking “sick”!

The Case of the Disappearing Torso 

Another highly embarrassing green screen failure is one we’ve all seen before on the weather network (or more likely on YouTube). Weatherman wears a green shirt in front of the studio green screen, and… poof! His torso disappears! Instead, it’s been replaced with a narrow cold front moving north towards his head! This gaff happens because a green wardrobe is antithetical to the entire point of a green screen. Green screens are green because it’s an uncommon color, and therefore it can easily be isolated, removed and replaced later in post-production. If a green article of clothing appears on screen, the visual effects program used by the editor or VFX artist will spot no difference between the clothing and the green screen, and will therefore project the image where it does not belong. How embarrassing!

QUICK FIX: This one is rather simple– avoid green wardrobe at all costs! Ties, pins, even earrings must be carefully checked. The same strict rule applies to props or objects that may appear in your video production, such as a mug or lighter. To misquote Ponyboy from The Outsiders, “Nothing green can stay.” 

One Light Fits All… Or Does It?

A final rookie mistake we’ll correct is a more subtle one, but just as crippling to your green screen video production if you allow it to happen. If you’re new to green screen video production, you might think that lighting the green screen and lighting your subject is a simple one-step process: erect your lights, point ‘em at green screen & subject, and you’re done! Right? Wrong.

The key to lighting for green screen is a tale of two setups: one setup for your subject, and an entirely different lighting setup for your green screen. If you attempt to use the same setup for both, your video production will be of poorer quality. Why? Because the human face is not a flat, neon-colored canvas! Approach the lighting of your green screen in too minimalist of a way, and both your subject and background will suffer for it. A studio green screen (or portable green screen) requires even lighting– dead even. A human subject does not. Instead, it requires (at least) a key light and fill light, and oftentimes a backlight too. Two different entities, two different lighting setups.

QUICK FIX: Use my foolproof green screen setup to achieve flawless results with your green screen video production. The broad strokes are thus: light your subject as one visual entity, light your green screen as a separate visual entity, then marry both parties through the lens of your camera and through editing software in post-production.


Now that you know how to avoid the potholes and pitfalls of working with green screen, ask yourself this: where does green screen fit into my plans for video production? As a Toronto videographer with nearly 30 years experience, I’ve assembled and shot more green screens than I can count, but my clients can always count on me to achieve professional results when it comes to their video production.  If you need any green screen video production studio in Toronto, find me at, and together we can turn your vision into reality.