How to Use a Green Screen for Teaching Online

By Editorial Staff •  Updated: 01/03/23 •  Teach Online

Green screens can turn a bland bedroom or home office into an interactive learning environment. Our guide will show you how to set up and use one, boosting student engagement effortlessly.

As more and more teachers are moving their classrooms online, they are looking for ways to make their virtual lessons more engaging. One way to do this is by using a green screen. Green screens allow you to superimpose images and videos over your live video or allow you to add in a dynamic and interesting back ground.

A green screen, or chroma key background, helps you set up professional-looking virtual backgrounds. It makes your online teaching videos more engaging by letting you add any digital backdrop during video production. All of which can add some much-needed visual interest to your online teaching. So let’s get into how to properly use a green screen for online teaching.

What is a green screen and how does it work

A green screen (also known as chroma-key) is a technique used in video production that allows for the replacement of an image’s background with a different image. The key to making this process work is the use of a green or blue backdrop. Once the video footage has been filmed and added into the computer software, the editor can then select which background they want to lay over the image.

This allows for an incredible range of creative possibilities and makes it easier to create believable special effects in videos. Green screens have become increasingly popular among film and television producers, enabling them to use digital techniques without spending large amounts of money on expensive special effects equipment.

For someone teaching, you can add background and images in real time to your live video feed. Sort of like what you see your nightly weather forecaster do. In addition, you can now set a quality teacher background.

Equipment Needed for Using a Green Screen

You’ll need a computer with fast CPU and sufficient RAM, the green screen itself, proper lighting setup, and chroma-key software for using a green screen for your online class.

To set up a green screen for virtual teaching, hang the green fabric evenly without wrinkles, ensure good lighting to avoid shadows, and position your recording equipment so that you’re clearly visible against the chroma key background.

A computer with fast CPU and sufficient RAM

A computer with a fast CPU and sufficient RAM is essential for running the chroma-key software required for using a green screen. The powerful processor and ample memory ensure smooth operation of the editing application, allowing you to seamlessly integrate your desired background into your online class videos.

Additionally, these hardware specifications enable efficient video rendering, resulting in high-quality content that enhances the learning experience for your students.

To optimize the performance of your green screen setup, it’s crucial to invest in a computer equipped with a fast CPU and sufficient RAM, ensuring that your virtual teaching sessions are seamless and professional.

The green screen itself

Using a green screen is an essential part of creating professional-looking videos for your online classes. The green screen itself serves as the backdrop for your virtual classroom, allowing you to replace it with any image or video background during editing.

When setting up your green screen, ensure that it is wrinkle-free and evenly lit to achieve the best results. Proper lighting setup is crucial when using a green screen to avoid shadows and achieve a seamless chroma-key effect.

Additionally, choose a high-quality fabric or collapsible green screen for convenience and durability during your online teaching sessions.

The use of a high-quality chroma key fabric can significantly enhance the visual appeal of your video recordings for distance education. Using the proper equipment, such as lighting fixtures and sturdy support stands, will ensure that your green screen functions effectively in creating engaging content for remote learning resources.

Proper lighting setup

Proper lighting is essential when using a green screen for your online class. Even and diffused lighting helps create a smooth, uniform background for video editing. Bright, soft lights that minimize shadows are ideal for achieving the best results with your green screen setup.

It’s important to position the lights evenly on both sides of the green screen to avoid any unevenness in color or illumination.

Ensuring proper lighting for your green screen can significantly enhance the quality of your virtual classroom experience, leading to more engaging and professional-looking content.

Chroma-key software

Chroma-key software is essential for seamlessly removing the green screen background from your videos. This user-friendly tool allows you to overlay different backgrounds with ease, giving your online class a professional and engaging look.

With the chroma key filter, you can create dynamic educational content that captures students’ attention and enhances the learning experience.

Engaging students in virtual classrooms becomes more interactive when using chroma-key software for creating digital backgrounds. It’s an effective way to transform your teaching space and bring educational concepts to life through visual storytelling.

How to set up a green screen for teaching online

Setting up a green screen is an effective way to upgrade your online teaching game. Green screens are simple to use and offer immense potential in creating virtual backgrounds and engaging learning environments.

After acquiring the necessary materials, such as a green backdrop, portable frame, and clips to attach it to the frame, the setup process is straightforward.

Here are the steps for using a green screen for online teaching:

Buy a green screen – Our choice is Elgato

While you can use anything that’s green, if you have the budget we strongly suggest buying a green screen. They’re not to expensive and the Elgato model comes with a built in collapsible stand. Unlock a world of possibilities with an optimized for camera chroma keying and green screen sets.

Set up your broadcasting with lightning speed: simply open the aluminum case, lift the handle to your desired height and let the pneumatic x-frame take care of securely locking in place. Then, position it behind you while you’re on camera with your laptop. Easy and simple.

Adjust your lighting

Make sure that your lighting is even across the entire green screen, so that there are no shadows or areas of uneven brightness. You may need to purchase specific video lighting or buy a webcam that comes with a built in light.

But don’t skimp on this. Lights again are not expensive and make a massive difference when recording online. You want to look fresh faced and professional, not grainy and amateurish. Positioning the lights evenly across the green screen backdrop ensures uniform illumination. Place light sources at a 45-degree angle from both sides, preventing shadows on the screen.

The lighting should be bright and consistent to facilitate accurate chroma keying during video editing, improving the final result.

To avoid dark spots or uneven coloration on the green screen, adjust the intensity of each light source until it evenly illuminates the entire background. Balancing your lighting setup will help in achieving a seamless and professional virtual background for your online class videos.

Ideally, pick chroma-Key friendly software

To chroma-key your green screen background, you’ll need the right kind of app. Both free and paid options are available depending on what type of computer operating system you’re using as well as any additional features that may be needed for a project.

For example, ManyCam Studio has both a comprehensive set of tools with which to work, from creating lower third text boxes onscreen to displaying YouTube videos or wearing virtual masks. Making it an ideal choice when working towards bigger projects.

You can also use Zoom which allows you to set a virtual background with or without a green screen. Using a green screen looks much better and is more effective. You can also use the popular Open Broadcast software (OBS) that is powerful, chroma-key friendly and best of all, free.

Understanding the chroma-key settings

Adjusting the chroma-key settings is crucial for achieving a seamless green screen effect. Start by selecting the key color, typically green or blue, and adjusting its sensitivity to ensure that the background is completely removed while retaining details in your subject.

Fine-tune the settings to prevent any color spill or halo around your subject, ensuring a clean and professional-looking final product.

Once you’ve adjusted the settings, preview the result to see how well the chroma-key filter has removed the background. Make necessary adjustments as needed until you achieve a realistic and polished appearance.

Set up your camera properly

Place your camera or webcam in front of the green screen, at a distance that allows you to move around freely while still being in frame. Ensure that the camera is square to the background and that you have sufficient light to avoid shadows (as we touched on previously).

If you happen to be using a DSLR or mirrorless camera as your webcam, set your aperture between to f5.6 and below for best results. You can also adjust your shutter speed and ISO if needed, but be sure it matches with the frame rate.

Choose your video editing software

There are many options for video editing software that can be used to remove the green screen background and replace it with any image or video you choose. Some popular options include Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro, and iMovie.

If you’re on an Macbook, then iMovie is free and very feature rich. Final Cut Pro is a professional level editor but for simple green screen work, iMovie is good enough. For anyone on a Windows machine then you’ll want to learn Davinchi Resolve which is totally free to use and on part with Final Cut Pro.

However, there is no denying that it has a steep learning curve. So if you want good editor that’s less complicated but for professional use then take a look at Vegas Pro.

Record your video

Begin your online teaching session as you normally would, with the green screen as your background. Be sure to speak clearly and use hand gestures to help keep your students engaged. When in class, depending on the software you should be able to set a virtual background.

With a green screen, this virtual background will look much, much better now as your camera and software have something to focus on.

Edit your video (optional)

Once you have recorded your video, open it in your video editing software and use the green screen tool to remove the green background and replace it with your desired image or video.

If your recording live, then set the video to a virtual background. But if your doing online course work then removing the greenscreen with an image replacement is incredibly easy. The exact process however will depend on your video editor of choice.

But iMovie, Final Cut Pro, Davinchi Resolve and Vegas Pro all allow for video editors to swap out the greenscreen image with another image or video easily.

Save and share your video

Finally, export your video at the same frame rate which you recorded it (this depends on your camera settings. Then, save your edited video and share it with your students using a platform such as Google Classroom.

Using the filter to remove the green background

After understanding the chroma-key settings, the next step is using the filter to remove the green background. This process involves adjusting the chroma key settings in your video editing software to eliminate that specific shade of green from your footage.

By doing so, you can seamlessly replace it with another image or background of your choice, creating a polished and professional look for your online class videos.

To start removing the green background, open your chosen video editing software and import the footage with the green screen. Locate and activate the chroma key filter within your software’s effects or tools menu.

Tips for using a green screen in your online teaching

When using a green screen in online teaching, there are several tips that can make the process smoother. Firstly, it’s important to ensure that your background is evenly lit and free from shadows or hot spots. If you find that the light isn’t consistent around the edges of your background, then additional light sources can be used to fill in these areas. Secondly, carefully choose the backdrop for your green screen.

The backdrop should complement what is being taught and add to any visuals you may have on-screen. Finally, test a variety of settings prior to live streaming as this will help identify any problems before going live and ensure a seamless experience for your students.

With good preparation and planning in place, utilizing a green screen for online teaching can be an incredibly effective tool for engaging with students and ensuring an immersive learning experience.

Troubleshooting common problems

Be prepared to trouble shoot any technical problems that can happen when using a green screen. Nothing worse as a teacher than wasting class time and being blind sided by an unexpected issue. In order to keep classes running smoothly, we recommend first identifying any technical issues that may arise.

The key is to focus on details such as testing equipment and software compatibility in advance. Ensure that lighting is set up properly so images aren’t distorted. If streaming onto an online platform, confirm that your users have the appropriate software so they can join the session.

Pre-recording and editing clips can also help minimize any unexpected hiccups during class time. As one final step, always take the time to test and practice for a minute before each session so that both you and your students get the most out of each class.

Key Takeaways

The benefits of using a green screen for teaching online

Using a green screen for online teaching offers benefits such as improved branding, enhanced visual appeal, and increased engagement from students.

Improved branding

Having a distinct and professional backdrop can make your online classes stand out, reinforcing your unique teaching brand. Utilizing a green screen allows you to craft an environment that reflects the content of your lesson or complements the theme of your course.

This consistent visual style not only enhances recognition among students but also positions you as a dedicated educator who values quality in digital media creation.

Custom virtual backgrounds give life to your branding message and create a cohesive look across all class materials. Whether it’s incorporating school logos, relevant images, or thematic elements related to the subject matter, green screens transform ordinary videos into vibrant, branded experiences.

They show commitment to delivering high-quality education while building trust and credibility with learners navigating through remote instruction environments.

Enhanced visual appeal

Using a green screen can instantly elevate the visual appeal of your online class videos. By incorporating a green screen backdrop, you can transport yourself to different settings and create an engaging learning environment for your students.

The versatility of green screens allows for endless possibilities in creating visually captivating content that will captivate and hold the attention of your audience.

With the use of chroma key technology, educators have the ability to enhance their video presentations with professional-looking virtual backgrounds. The visual enhancement provided by a green screen can significantly improve the overall quality of your online teaching materials, making them more visually appealing and immersive for your students.

Increased engagement

Using a green screen for online classes can lead to increased engagement among students. By creating dynamic and visually appealing backgrounds, you can capture the attention of your audience and make learning more interactive.

Incorporating green screen technology into your virtual teaching sessions offers opportunities for students to learn in an engaging and immersive environment, ultimately enhancing their overall learning experience.

Through creative use of a green screen, you can bring lesson plans to life, foster student participation, and provide a fun and interactive classroom backdrop that promotes active learning.

Implementing a green screen into your online courses opens up various creative possibilities for teaching and learning. The captivating nature of visual effects created by the green screen captures students’ interest, making it an effective tool for maintaining student focus during remote learning.


Is a green screen worth it for Zoom?

Yes, although understand that a green screen may give your virtual background the desired aesthetics, it will still fall short of actually being in-person due to dissimilarities between you and your environment such as lighting, coloration and focus.

Can I use green cloth for green screen for Zoom?

Yes, you can use green paper or even a green blanket as a green screen. Though if you’re a professional it is best to invest in purchasing a green screen because wrinkles and lighting become an issue.

How much do green screens cost?

Green screens can cost as little as $25 to upwards of $250 depending on the size you need.

How to use a Green Screen for Online Teaching – Conclusion

A green screen is simple and effective way to create a more dynamic and interesting class. We’ve seen teachers use green paper or a green blanket but we do suggest you purchase a proper green screen to avoid any wrinkles or lighting issue when recording.

Editorial Staff

I'm David Unwin and I head the editorial staff here at Teach and GO. I've taught as an ESL teacher in Thailand for 5+ years at all levels of education, from elementary to University. I was also one of the first 1000 VIPKID teachers. I and my team now share my extensive experience as a teacher here at Teach and GO. Learn more.

Keep Reading