What You Will Need
- Green/Blue Screen* (I bought this kit)
- 3 Directional Lights + Stands (I use 45 watt CFL bulbs with umbrella hoods)
- A Decent Quality Webcam (I use the Logitech C920)
- A Computer + Open Broadcasting Software
*You can substitute a green sheet or just paint your wall green. Some people have had mixed results taping green construction paper all over their wall. So long as you have a solid colored, mostly wrinkle free green surface behind you, you should be good to go.
Let There Be Light!
First things first you want to set up the room for optimal lighting. You can do some elaborate multi-light setups utilizing as many as five lights but for the purpose of this article we will go with the cost effective three light solution. You want to make sure you have three bright lights. White light is what you want in my opinion. I HIGHLY recommend going with some bright LED or compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs. Using halogen or traditional bulbs will crank up the heat in your room, which can be unpleasant. I don’t know about you but my computer heats up the room enough as it is.
Anyway, once you have your bulbs selected go ahead and slap them in whatever lamp stand and hood/umbrella you will be using. I use three shoot-through umbrella lamps that I got off Amazon in a kit. The umbrellas allow the light to be directed and diffused a bit. You can get reflector hoods that reflect the light back out or you can get less opaque umbrellas to shoot through. Depending on the type of umbrella or hood you pick, the direction you aim it will differ.
Lights! Camera! Action!
Now that you have your lights selected and put together lets talk placement (I skipped the assembly phase, I trust you screwed the light bulb properly…giggity). The whole name of the placement game is trying to get your lights placed so that they do not cast major shadows and that they light you well but do not wash your features out.
You also want whats called a “hair light” which is an overhead light that helps separate your hair from the background, so when you chromakey (green screen) the camera can tell your hair apart from the background easier. Anytime you see someone who’s hair looks like it is dissolving, chances are they have frizzy hair and no hair light. Also, though I hate to do it, combing your hair really helps when you are chroma keying.
Below is a picture detailing the general optimal light placement. However, your room features may vary and you may need to shuffle the lights around to find the optimal placement that eliminates shadows and illuminates you properly.
Adding a Camera in Open Broadcaster Software
Ok, so you got all your lights set up and are ready to roll. Next thing you need is Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). If you do not have it, go snag a copy here. Now, there’s a whole bunch of stuff to do in OBS to set it up for streaming, but that is an article for another time. Install OBS if you need to and lets skip ahead. We’re going to focus on how to get OBS set up for chroma keying. Would you kindly open OBS.
So first, go ahead and click “Global Sources”, then add a “Video Capture Device”. Name it “Webcam” or whatever. Name it “Steve” if you want, I won’t judge you. After the window pops up, make sure at the top, your webcam is selected.
Then go ahead and hit “OK”. Next, in the main OBS window right click the “Sources” box and select “Add”>”Global Source”>”Webcam or Steve or Whatever”. You should now have your webcam added to OBS.
Chroma Key Time!
Now comes the potentially hard part, finding out what chromakey setting works for you. Make sure your lights are on (only the 3 lights you will have on while streaming, turn off additional lights such as desk lamps you may not use). Go ahead and right click your webcam under sources. When the window pops up, you will see a section at the bottom left called “Chroma Key”. Go ahead and check that box to “Use Chroma Key”. Pick a color that closely matches the medium range of your screen. You can even hit “Select” to use an eyedropper if you have an accurately lit photo of your green screen to sample from. Depending on the lighting and how wrinkled it is, areas of your screen may be lighter or darker, shoot for a shade of green somewhere in the middle. Side note: Some people iron their green screens to remove wrinkles. Use very low heat if you try this, especially on the thinner cheap screens.
Now, I’m going to be totally honest…when I set my chroma key up I was worried because I had heard horror stories of people spending an hour or more trying to find the right chroma key settings. I was looking around and saw someone on reddit had posted their settings: 330 Similarity, 81 Blend, 50 Spill Reduction. I punched it in and BOOM, chroma keyed baby! It looks pretty decent to me. I still use that setting. I forget who posted it, whoever it was: THANK YOU.
Sadly, depending on your lighting and webcam, your experience may be different. What I would recommend is starting at those settings and tweaking up or down slowly. “Similarity” is the main value you should be tweaking to achieve perfection. Tweak “Blend” a bit as you raise or lower “Similarity”.
Also, turn OFF any auto adjust features on your webcam. Stuff like the “RightLight” and “Auto-Focus” will shift and screw with your chroma key settings. Once you have nailed your settings down you are good to go!
Welcome to Invisible Land
If everything went well, you should now be able to stream yourself and effectively delete your background. Remember not to wear shades of green or you will look like you are missing pieces. Or go ahead and wear a green shirt and look like a floating head, your call. You can insert your own backgrounds too. Make it look like you’re streaming from the moon. You can have a blast goofing around with your green screen.
A few last notes:
- Using a green screen is recommended over using a blue screen. Digital cameras allegedly detect green better and green is an easier color to illuminate, requiring less light.
- Keep your green screen clean. Lint and loose cat fur shows up.
- If you are buying one, get a thicker green screen. Some of the cheap thin ones can be tougher to chroma key.
- You can also chroma key in XSplit. The process is probably similar.
- HAVE FUN!!!
Thanks for scoping out this tutorial, I hope your questions have been answered and if anyone has any other questions or additional bits of information you think should be in the guide feel free to post them in the comments. Enjoy your chroma key!