As much as I enjoy using Green Screen by DoInk, there are still teachers that find it hard to get paid apps approved, or to raise enough money to put a paid app on all the devices that they want it on. Consequently, I still get a lot of questions about the best free green screen app for the iPad. Up until today, there weren’t a lot of options, but a recent update to iMovie has opened up a whole new world of possibilities.Read More »
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of helping many different teachers use green screen effects in their classrooms. This summer I get the opportunity to do it again at ISTE 2018 in Chicago with my colleague Gina Rogers (@grogers1010). Although my presentations and workshops have evolved over the years, they typically include three elements:
- Why green screen is so popular in schools
- How to create successful green screen projects
- What other teachers are doing with green screens in their classrooms
Often, I find that I get a lot of inspiration from teachers on Twitter. So, in this post I wanted to share some of my favorite examples from tweets I have seen that illustrate great educational uses of green screens. As you scroll through, click on any of the images below to see the original tweet and play any associated media.
Are you ready to do green screen in your classroom? This short guide walks you through the basics of what you need to buy, borrow, or build in order to do just that. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, (you might not need to spend any at all), but there are definitely a few essentials that you will want to have on hand in order to get the best results. So, here’s a rundown of some of the best green screen apps, tools and technology.
The Green Screen
You have some options here. Some are better than others, but a green screen is not as expensive as you might think, and that is one of the best things about using green screens in the classroom!
Green screen fabric. You can pick this up at your local fabric store if you want. The actual shade of green doesn’t matter all that much, (some people prefer blue), but you don’t want anything too light or bright. Take a look at this selection on Amazon to get an idea for colors. If you don’t live near a fabric store, or you aren’t sure what to pick, you can get a 6×9 foot backdrop online for less than $20. Need something bigger? Try this 10×10 foot alternative. Remember, extra sheets are good to have on hand, so consider getting more than one sheet if your budget allows it. Extra sheets are great for special effects.
Green screen paint is popular in many schools. You don’t have to worry about wrinkles or setting up and breaking down a kit. You just paint some wall space and you’re ready to go. You can get professional green screen paint, but it is not cheap. Household paint will work, but you need to make sure it is a really flat, matte paint in order to minimize reflections. Regardless of which you choose, be sure to paint a wall that has even lighting, and not something that is often in partial shade.
Low cost options. You know that poster paper you use to line your display boards? That also works for green screen. Just wallpaper a wall with it and you are good to go. For small scale projects, I have seen teachers paint the inside of pizza boxes or use green tri-fold display boards as backgrounds for models and puppets.
You may not need lights, depending on where your green screen is, but even lighting is important if you want to get the best results. Your goal is to avoid multiple shades of green that are caused by shadows and uneven lighting. So, if you can’t move your green screen, consider some lights to help you accomplish that task.
Studio lights. If you have the room for them, studio lights can be a great addition. They are rated in watts for the amount of light they produce. The higher the wattage, the brighter the light. Generally speaking you will need at least two studio lights, but a third one would be good to use as a fill light. A set of three lights can be had for less than $50, but if you think you need more power you could spend a little more.
Desk Lights also work well, especially if you are doing small scale work. They are lightweight, easy to move around, and you probably already have some that you can use. Consider a goose neck lamp for extra flexibility.
Personally, as far as lights go, I would see if you can manage without them. They are after all an additional trip hazard, and take a little extra time to set up correctly. That said, if you decide to get an all-in-one green screen kit that comes with fabric, a stand and lights, then you have nothing to lose by experimenting.
The All-in-One Green Screen Kit
If you are buying a green screen sheet, a stand, and maybe some lights, you will often be better off buying a kit. Why? It’s often cheaper than buying all the separate components. For instance, you can get a green screen and a stand for $50 or less, while a full kit with that includes a screen, stand and lights is not much more.
Some of these kits come with muslin clamps, others do not. These are useful to help hold the green screen in place and to stretch the fabric to lessen wrinkles that may reduce the overall effect. They are very inexpensive, but can make a big difference.
As with lighting, microphones fall into the optional category. Many digital cameras have on-board microphones that are more than adequate. However, if you are filming with a mobile device, or your students suddenly go quiet in front of the camera, a microphone is a good investment.
Many schools already have microphones for a PA system or similar. If you do, the iRig Pre is worth a look. You plug an XLR microphone into the iRig Pre and then connect the other end to the headphone jack on a mobile device. The microphone will now connect directly to the iPad and give you a much better audio track. If you don’t have any of those microphones at school, you could just opt for the iRig Mic. USB microphones like the Blue Snowball will also work with an iPad so long as you use Apple’s lightning to USB adapter.
Finally, if there are a number of wired lavelier mics that are compatible with iOS devices. If you are able to hide the wire under a shirt, and frame your shots from the waist up, this can be a great option too. The IK Multimedia iRig Mic Lav is an affordable option that can be configured for either one or two microphones. The Rode SmartLav+ is also highly rated.
Tripods & Mounts
Stability will greatly enhance your final product, so if you can mount your camera or mobile device on a tripod, you should. Video in particular, looks a lot more professional when you can avoid hand holding the recording device. So, here are a few ideas.
Tripods come in all kinds of shapes and sizes and you can really pay as much as you want for one of these things. For the most part you won’t need a professional grade carbon fiber tripod for your classroom, but you will want something that is sturdy,. reliable and cost effective. There are literally dozens to choose from, but there’s one for every budget. Things to look for include the maximum height, load weight, and a quick release mounting plate. If you already have a tripod, use that!
Tripod Mounts. Most digital cameras have tripod sockets built-in so you can mount them directly to the tripod. However, mobile devices like an iPad don’t have that luxury. So, you might look at something like a Makaya Movie Mount (available in different sizes depending on your iPad) or an iOgrapher to meet that need. The Padcaster series is perfect for this purpose, but it is kind of expensive. If you are looking for something more affordable, the iPow Universal iPad Tripod Mount might just fit the bill. It can be adjusted for different mobile devices and has proven to be very popular.
Green Screen Software
Once you have recorded your green screen footage, it’s time to make the magic happen! That only works with some dedicated software. The software will vary depending on what device you use, but here are some options that cover most bases.
iPad apps: When using iPads for recording and editing green screen movies, my go-to app is always Green Screen by Doink. For me it has among the simplest interfaces and will more often than not yield the best results. If you are looking for a free option, try TouchCast Studio. It doesn’t do everything that DoInk does, mainly because green screen is just one of many video features in this app, but it will get you started. Veescope Live is another iOS green screen app.
Online: For Chromebooks, and any kind of online editing with a desktop computer, the best web-based green screen editor that I know of is WeVideo. Unfortunately, you can’t do chroma key effects in the free version, but it is available in the paid plans and works on Macs and PCs too. Speaking of which…
Mac & PC: Lots of options here, but most are paid solutions. iMovie comes free with all Macs and includes the ability to edit green screen footage. Camtasia is a popular screencasting tool that many educators love and one of its many features includes chroma key editing. Be sure to check out the education pricing for some great discounts. Screenflow is a similar tool that is only available to Mac users. Cyberlink PowerDirector is a full-featured video editor for PCs that works well with green screen footage. Adobe offers the well-respected Premiere Elements for both Mac and PC, and if you have access to the Adobe CC suite at school, you can also edit green screen with the professional grade Adobe Premiere app on Mac or PC. Apple’s Final Cut Pro X is another pro option for Mac users.
Some time ago I wrote a blog post entitled 3 Top Tips for Green Screen Classrooms. It proved to be a popular post, so I thought it was time to do a follow up with three MORE top tips that you can use in your classroom when embarking on multimedia green screen projects. So, take a look at the ideas below, and feel free to submit your top tips in the comments below.
1. Add Logos to Images and Videos
Green Screen by DoInk lets you add up to three layers of media to each project. Think of these like the foreground, the middle ground, and the background. Often, we just use two of these layers – one for the live camera and the other for the background – but that third layer can be very useful for branding, a watermark, or even your school logo. Simply add it to your foreground layer, resize it, and position it to where you would like it to appear on the screen.
This is ideal for adding logos at a conference you are running, or simply to add a channel number icon to your news broadcast. Any image will work here but transparent PNGs (images with no background layer) will add an additional air of authenticity. Create your own and export them to the camera roll with Paper53 or search for Vector images at Pixabay.com.
2. Use a Tripod
This is a very quick and easy way to make your videos look more professional. Shaky camera work, especially on a green screen video, can be quite disorientating for the viewer so the steadier the better. Thankfully, this is not as expensive as you might think. The Padcaster is a great setup, but it’s not within everyone’s budget. However, the Makiyama Movie Mount is a decent option. Amazon is full of affordable iPad holders that cost even less and they will easily mount to any standard camera tripod. Many will even work without removing the case you have your iPad housed in so be sure to look for those too if you need that flexibility.
3. Get More Green Cloths
If you only have one green screen, you’re missing out on some creative opportunities. Ever wanted to fly like Superman or float like an astronaut? Cover a table, or some sturdy boxes, with an extra green cloth and you can take to the skies with the magic of green screen. When Halloween comes around you can use that extra green screen cloth to have fun with a disembodied head simply by wrapping the cloth around you like a cloak! For a less morbid example, you could try adding your head to Mount Rushmore! You could even try a mixed media example like this one on human anatomy.
BONUS TIP: Experiment With The Masking Tools
If you ever find that your green screen is not quite big enough, or there is a stubborn area of your background that you just can’t fix, then the masking tools are for you. They let you mask out areas of your scene that you don’t want to show on your final product. Simply tap the mask icon to get started and use any of the the eraser or shape tools to define an area that you want to mask. Anything that is underneath that layer will be transparent.
In the example where your green screen is too small, select the live camera view, then use the masking tools to “paint” the area outside of your green screen. This creates a mask that will now show your chosen background media instead of the classroom walls!
Of course, the masking tools can be used creatively too. If you don’t have another green cloth on hand, the masking tool could be use in place of that. Or, as you can see below, it could even be used to show two videos side by side! 🙂
I am a big fan of using green screen in the classroom. My favorite app for doing that is the Green Screen app by Do Ink, so you can imagine how happy I was to see these new green screen tutorial videos from Do Ink that show you various ways to use the app. Each video is short and to the point. They are a great way to learn the app, or to share with others that are interested in getting started with green screen on the iPad. Take a look! The videos are embedded below.
How to Combine, Trim and Save Two Videos
Just getting started with green screen? Then this is the video tutorial for you. It shows you the basics of how to combine your green screen video with a background of your choice, as well as how to save and export your finished video. Easy, right?
How To Use All 3 Layers in the Green Screen by Do Ink app
Wondering what you can do with all three media tracks? In this video you can see a quick demonstration of how (and why) you can use all three tracks to make a multimedia video that is layered with different tracks. It sounds hard, but it is easier than you think.
How to Change Position, Size and Orientation of Images
I find that this is something people discover by accident, but it is a very useful skill to know when using the Green Screen by Do Ink app. With a couple of pinch and drags you can easily scale and move your images to position them exactly where you want them on the screen. The same technique works with pre-recorded video.
How to Crop Images, Videos and Live Camera
The crop tool is a powerful way to deal with smaller green screens, or bad framing when capturing the original photo or video. Why? It lets you crop out areas of the image that you don’t want to appear in your final video. Here’s how to do it.
How to Use the Mask Tool to Create a Moving Newspaper
This is my favorite of all the videos. It shows you how to create an animated newspaper that looks like it fell straight off the set of a Harry Potter movie. This could be a great way for students to interact with local or national news and give their opinions on hot topics. It could also be ideal for historical perspective pieces with archive images of newspapers from the past. This green screen video tutorial is quick and easy to follow.
Are you using green screen in your classroom? What tutorials would you like to see next?
Are you part of the green screen revolution that is sweeping schools? iPad apps like Green Screen by DoInk make it easier than ever to take advantage of the magic of green screen from the comfort of your own classroom. So, here are three top tips on how to make your filming experience a little easier for both students and teachers!
1. Use Mirroring Software
Green screen is an abstract thing for your actors because they can’t see where they are. Do they need to move left a bit? If so, by how much? Wouldn’t it just be easier if they could see for themselves without moving away from the green screen? Well, they can if you put your video feed on a projector, TV or large screen monitor. iPad users can do this with mirroring software like Airserver. The difference is like night and day, and your actors invariably look more confident in front of the camera because they can see where they are in the scene.
2. Use a Teleprompter App
Nobody likes memorizing lines, but you don’t need to if you have an extra iPad handy. Why? There are a number of handy teleprompter apps that you can use to make forgotten lines a thing of the past. There are several free ones like Teleprompter Lite or Best Prompter Pro, but if you have the money to spare, take a look at PromptSmart Pro – a voice activated teleprompter that listens to your voice and automatically matches the movement of the script to the pace of your voice! For best results, hold the teleprompter as close to the camera as you can so that it looks like the actors are talking to the camera.
3. Use External Microphones
A study showed that people are more likely to watch a bad video with good audio quality as opposed to a great looking video that has really poor audio. With an iPad, you might think it would be hard to add an external microphone to improve your audio quality, but it is actually easier (and cheaper) than you might think. I like several of the iRig mobile products but there are definitely a number of options available to you if you are looking for better audio quality. The iRig Mic plugs directly into a mobile device, while the iRig Pre will let you add directional shotgun mics or standard XLR mics that you may already have at school.
Traditionally, a green screen is set against a wall in some kind of vertical arrangement, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In the video below, I laid the green screen flat on the ground and chose an image with some deep perspective to simulate a walk that not many people would want to take! 🙂
Are you a green screen veteran? If so, what are your favorite tips for recording a great green screen movie in the classroom? Leave a comment below.
There are lots of great learning opportunities when you use green screen effects in the classroom. I’ve written about some of those before, but almost all of them involved green screen movies. What about green screen photography? Is that possible on an iPad? It is, because there’s an app for that.
Recently I was reminded of the ability to do green screen photography when I read a blog post by Dr. Wesley Fryer. He did a green screen photo booth at the Fall Festival of the school he works at in Oklahoma. Great idea. So how do you do it? It all starts with the Green Screen app by DoInk. The rest is easy! Here’s how it works.
1. Start by collecting the background images you want to use in place of the green screen. You can get lots of free, high-quality images on sites like Unsplash, Pixabay, Morguefile or Pexels. Once you find the images you need, save them to your camera roll by pressing and holding on the photo and selecting Save Image.
2. Set up your green screen, and make sure it is evenly lit with no dark or light areas. You don’t have to mount your iPad on a tripod for green screen photography, but if you have that ability, you absolutely should because you will get a sharper image more often.
3. Next, open the Green Screen app and toggle the Video switch to Image. This changes the operation of the app from green screen video to green screen photography, (see below).