How to Use a Green Screen for Teaching Online

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The benefits of using a green screen for teaching online

You may be wondering, why even bother with using a green screen in the first place but utilizing a green screen for teaching online has numerous benefits. Firstly, it improves the visual quality of the virtual classroom setting by creating an immersive experience that brings students and teachers closer together.

A green screen can also be used to display online resources or creative visuals during lessons to engage learners in a unique way and maintain their focus. In addition, it gives teachers the ability to seamlessly transition between slides without affecting the overall flow of the presentation. As such, through its various applications, a green screen can help make online teaching more efficient and enjoyable for both educators and students alike.


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

The editorial Staff at Teach and GO is a team of teachers with a broad range of experience led by David Unwin. We have been creating helpful advice, guides and tutorials for teachers since 2018.

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