One of the most imaginative class projects I’ve consulted on was a 4th grade project about California Missions. Each year, students were required to submit written reports about the history and significance of the religious outposts. From all reports, it wasn’t exactly the most electrifying week of the year. After much discussion, we decided to throw tradition out the window and take a very different approach. This time, we asked students to demonstrate their understanding by creating video guides to the mission with the aid of some magical green screen technology.
The first step was to research and plan the video, then capture the relevant images at the mission. Easy enough. Students used mobile devices on their field trip and took photos at specific locations around the mission. Step number two was to script their video guides. It’s ironic that most people consider video to be an alternative to writing, yet successful video projects hinge on this very important written component. Once the video was planned and scripted, they moved into the production phase and shot the video. We hung a green curtain in the classroom and students recorded video of themselves reciting the script in front of it. The final step required some simple video editing. Using an inexpensive app, students edited the green screen video and replaced the green background with the images taken at the mission. The end result was a wonderfully realistic video tour of the mission – and quite possibly, this time it was the most exciting week of the school year!
(using the Green Screen app)
- Take photos of a location (or find and use appropriate images online).
- Set up a green screen curtain or any other flat green background (see Equipment section below for more information).
- Make sure to set up in a spot with even lighting that isn’t causing any shadows.
- Take video of students in front of the green screen.
- Edit the video in an app such as Green Screen by DoInk.
- Place the green screen video on the uppermost layer. You’ll probably notice that the app immediately recognizes the green and strips it out. The green has actually become transparent and anything on the lower layers will show through it.
- If the background color isn’t removed, then you’ll need to adjust the selected color in the chroma key. Tap the color wheel and select the color that matches the background.
- Place an image on the lower layer. It will replace the green background in your video. If you want to use a series of images, slide the video along in the timeline and insert additional images at the appropriate spots in the lower layer. By the way, you can also insert a video on the lower layer.
- If you’re using a laptop or Chromebook, you can use the online video editor at www.wevideo.com. Refer to this article and video for instructions on editing green screen videos with their editor.
- Leave your green shirt at home! Remember, anything green will become invisible. Here’s an example of the rather macabre consequences of wearing the wrong clothing in front of a green screen.
- Alternatively, you can create some pretty awesome special effects by wearing something green. I made a green screen video with my young nephews and they draped a green tablecloth around their bodies. We called it, “Floating Heads in Outer Space”.
- Place the device as close as possible to the person speaking so that you capture sound clearly. If possible, use an external microphone for better audio quality. Some models attach directly to your device and others work wirelessly.
- Green Screen app by DoInk (iOS)
- www.WeVideo.com (laptops and chromebooks)
Amazon has a range of options that range from inexpensive green screen curtains to an entire green screen kit including curtains and lighting. You can take an even less expensive route by simply attaching a large sheet of green paper to a wall or whiteboard.
You’re wondering why the color has to be green? The technique is known as color or chroma keying. It separates one color and makes it transparent. The colors are normally green or blue but you can actually single out any color. Most green screen editing apps will default to green but allow you to change the chroma key.
Contact Sam for workshops about mobile devices and media.