This is How I Quickly Create and Add Green Screen Backgrounds to My Recorded and Live Videos
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. Right now, many of our first impressions are made during a Zoom or other live and recorded video conversations, interviews and shows.
The above photo shows one of our 3 “work from home” makeshift offices. The screenshot below is how the green screen video looks while I’m sitting at this very desk. Big difference right? In this post, I share exactly how I do this.
Live Video Isn’t Going Anywhere. It’s Time for You to Raise the Bar
Many of you have asked how I create the green screen backgrounds that I use on Zoom, StreamYard, my recorded videos on YouTube, social media, and in my private BombBomb email videos. Well, I thought I’d take a couple of minutes and show you.
If you’re able to record a video, or live stream, from a location at your office or in your home that has a great natural background which gives the right impression for your business or profession, then you’re good to go. However, if you’re like many of us who are creating recorded and live video from a spare bedroom or kitchen, then the background you’re using probably leaves a lot to be desired.
At the law firm we have 8 conference rooms. Two have full-time green screens set up that we used almost daily before COVID-19.
At the house we have 3 “home office” setups that we created during COVID-19. At the top of this post is a picture of one end of our upstairs bonus room that’s been converted into a temporary home office with a green screen. I want you to get a better idea of how everything will look once you’re setup and ready to go. Because I’m not meeting clients here, I’m not worried about the wires or how things look. Also, please excuse the mess on the left. I’m using the big table to get ready for a Zoom settlement mediation, play around with a new drone, and charge my GoPro Hero 9 Black 😉
Also note that there are many ways to checkoff each of all the steps you should take to create and use a green screen. However, these are the steps I’m taking because they’re easy, fast and inexpensive (hey, I’m a lawyer working from one of three home offices right now and not a professional video producer).
Before we dive a bit deeper into the post, keep in mind that regardless of how long COVID-19 last, the consumer now expects most professionals to use video. I can’t think of a better business move than to make sure you take time now, to get set up and ready to go with recorded and live video for the future. [Related videos: “HOW TO PLAN, START, PRODUCE, FINISH AND PROMOTE A LIVE VIDEO SHOW” and “HOW I CREATE MY VIDEOS WHILE RUNNING AND PADDLE BOARDING (OUT AND ABOUT VIDS).”]
The Normal Process for Me (this takes me about 60 seconds)
When I’m ready to jump on a recorded or live video, I can be ready in about 60 seconds. Here’s what I do:
- I turn on my 3 lights;
- I click on my Ecamm Live Pro app;
- In Ecamm Live Pro, I select my green screen background (I usually use the same image which happens to be a nice picture of our office reception area) and,
- I click on my Zoom link (or whatever platform I’m going live on) and then select the “virtual cam” option in the Zoom settings at the bottom of the screen. Note that at the bottom of Zoom you can select your audio and video options. Similar settings are available in all of the platforms that I use.
That’s it. It’s fast and easy. After the first time most of these settings become the default and nothing needs to be selected. The end result looks very professional.
OK, here’s the breakdown of the equipment I use to be able to do this quickly and easily (this is key because if it’s too difficult or time consuming, you’re not going to use the green screen). Also note that in addition to being a full-time California trial lawyer, I’m also a brand ambassador for several of the companies I mention below. Having said that, I only agree to use and recommend services of companies I believe in and, companies who’s services are awesome.
Below I share the equipment I use all day long. For the most part, my laptop sits on my desk and is connected to a large LG screen, wireless keyboard and mouse. It’s just like having a desktop to work on but, I can grab the laptop and go where ever I want whenever I want. The laptop is connected to both a high speed Cox wireless and hard wired internet.
My computer of choice is a Macbook Pro because it it’s easy to use and just works. Almost any current high quality Apple or Windows based laptop or desktop has the power to make all of this work just fine. (link)
I attach a Logitech webcam to the top of my laptop or to the top of the monitor on my desk when working from the desk. I do not use the built in laptop camera/webcam because we’re talking about video and the webcam is about 10X better than the built in cameras. This is especially true when using Ecamm below for your green screen.
I use the Brio Ultra Pro Webcam but almost any high quality webcam will work just fine. The webcams connect quickly and easily with a USB. (link)
I use the Blue Yeti and it connects to my laptop with a USB. I do not use the built in mic on the laptop or on the webcam. Sound is important when you’re broadcasting and my Blue Yeti helps me do this correctly and with quality sound. Any quality USB mic will do the trick. I also use the same mic for podcasts. (link)
You want to use earbuds when doing a live video. This avoids the echo that you hear during live videos when someone isn’t using an earbud. It also allows you to keep the conversation private and not disturb everyone else who may be in the room or house.
I plug a traditional inexpensive 3.5mm earbud into the bottom of my Blue Yeti (the white wired earbuds shown in the above picture). They work just fine. Sometimes I’ll also use my Apple AirPods or Bose SoundSport wireless earbuds for audio. They easily connect via bluetooth with my Macbook. Whatever your choice, make sure to use a wired or wireless earbud.
I have a large green screen set up in two of the law firm conference rooms and, at our home office. We just leave them up all the time. Other green screens are portable and can be put up and taken down quickly. Our home setup which is pictured at the beginning of this post cost less than $100 to put together. It’s also 8 years old. If I was doing this again today, I’d go with a smaller more portable system for the home office like below. There are many options and you can start reviewing what’s best for you and your office space here (link).
You will need 3 good lights to make your green screen work correctly and look good. When I turn them on, they are focused on the green screen and not me (see the first pic in the post). Why? Because a bright green screen lets everything else work. You can’t skip this step and expect good results. Put another way, without a well lit green screen, this video technique will not work properly.
I have 3 lights that are a few years old. Two are set up on each side at a 45 degree angle pointing towards the green screen. They’re positioned about 4 feet to each side of me and 90% pointed towards the back green screen.
The center light is a large ring light directly in front of me. I could have just used a third normal light in front but I already had the ring light so we’re using it. The light in front lights up my face and also the green screen behind me. You can get something like what I’m using (older technology that’s shown in the picture above) here. Or, if you don’t have lights and are starting fresh, I’d go something along this route if I were buying new lights today (link). Whatever decision you make, have your final setup look like something like my home green screen office (top of the post) for results you can be proud of.
I use the Ecamm Live Pro software to start my video with the green screen. This is what makes everything work. I couldn’t do what I’m doing without it.
This software allows me to do many different things but I primarily use it for my green screen needs. Ecamm only works on Macs. Although I’m not using the software/service, it looks like ManyCam for Windows (the Studio and Premium editions) offers virtual backgrounds, green screen with Chroma key features, and a virtual cam option that may allow you to do the same thing.
With respect to my green screen, with a few clicks the Ecamm software allows me to make the green screen look great. You can adjust the size of your video and the size of the background green screen and really tweak color and contrast (and about a dozen other things) so your green screen looks good. In the black box below, you can see me sitting framed in the green screen and in the upper right, you can see the image I selected to fill the green screen as a background. You can also blur the green screen background for a slightly polished look (see below).
Now here’s the important part. The Ecamm Live Pro version has what’s called a “virtual cam.” What this means is when I go live on Zoom or the other platforms, the programs ask me, “What webcam do I want to use?” In response, I look at the dropdown list and select the Ecamm virtual cam. Now, when I go live on Zoom, StreamYard, or BombBomb, the video that comes up is the video that’s created in my Ecamm Live Pro application with the green screen that I’ve selected and dialed in using the settings.
The end result is a quality green screen video feed that helps you stand out and make a good impression.
Normal green screen (our office)
Blurred green screen
Background Pictures for your Green Screen
We have a few pictures from our main law firm lobby that we use. Clients who meet us at the office tell us they feel like they’ve been there before because it’s the back ground on our Zooms. Any high quality image will work and we have selected a few from Unsplash (free) that also work well.
A couple of quick tips: look for nice office pictures that have depth to them. Hallways and clean angles work well. Here’s one background example from my Top Secret Partner consulting video. Here’s another background being used during a Zoom with my friend, Haben Girma, the first Deafblind graduate from Harvard law.
Once you have your pictures, you upload them into Ecamm and you’re good to go. You simply select the background picture you want in your green screen before going live. You only have to do this once or anytime you want to update your background picture with a new picture.
Another thing you can do with Ecamm is upload video loops to play as your background. City lights, news anchor backgrounds and similar videos look pretty good so long as they compliment your interview or show.
I use Zoom for many of my private client meetings and court hearings. I enjoy using StreamYard for my live video shows because of the additional bells and whistles. StreamYard also allows me, with one click, to stream to YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Periscope, Twitter and other platforms all at the same time. Ecamm also allows you to do interviews and push your live video to different platforms. I also use both of these (mostly Ecamm) to record to my desktop to shoot client “how to” videos.
I use BombBomb with my green screen to send private video emails to potential clients, existing clients, opposing counsel and others. It’s been a secret weapon that helps me stand out and build my brand and the nice green screen via Ecamm makes the experience special.
If you’d like to learn how I create and produce my live video shows, I share my entire approach here (video). Along the same lines, live streaming pro, JennyQ and I, also covered a few “how to” live video tips in this info packed video.
Well, I hope this helps give some context to how I’m creating the green screens backgrounds that you’re seeing on social media. Please reach out with questions and stay connected with me here at the Streaming.Lawyer, my LegalMinds Mastermind, my new Top Secret Partner consulting service for new lawyers and my firm Jackson & Wilson, Inc.
Thanks everyone. I hope you found this post useful.
Make today your masterpiece!