VLog #57 – What do we Need for Green Screen for Video Calls?

Video – VLog #57

How do you do a green screen video call?

Is a green screen worth it for zoom?

What happens if you don’t have a green screen for zoom?

Script – VLog #57

Willie Nicol: Hello everyone and welcome to vlog 57 of The Techno Dinosaur Meets The I.T. Geek. I’m the Techno Dinosaur, Willie Nicol, so called because I’m digitally challenged. However, I’m also a personal development life coach based in Troon, South Ayrshire, Scotland, U.K.

Willie Nicol: With me today is my usual partner in crime, the I.T. Geek himself, David Logan. So, David, how are you and where are you today?

David Logan: Hi Willie, I’m great thank you. I’m based here in Annan, south-west of Scotland, U.K. I am the I.T. geek. I am the guy who takes the jargon out of technology for you, the Techno Dinosaur, and the home-based worker who is struggling so I keep it simple and make it work efficiently for you.

Willie Nicol: Simple and efficient works for me David. So, todays question is ….. we have these lovely backgrounds behind us when we’re doing our little vlogs. What do we need to achieve this in terms of green screen and the lighting?

David Logan: OK. So, green screen, you can see here the green screen. You can change the background quite simply when we’re in Zoom. We’ll base this on the Zoom platform since we’re both familiar with that platform Willie. So, if you have the latest version of Zoom, I believe, if my memory strikes me right, this has been in Zoom since we started using it over a year ago now. So, if you go to the bottom left of your Zoom (screen) you’ve got the bit that says “Stop Video”. If you press the ‘Up’ arrow you’ve got “Choose virtual background”. So, within that, you’ve got some of the ‘standard’ backgrounds that come in. So, there’s a good example there. If my memory serves me right, I believe in the early days when you had a green screen you used that. But there are other ones as well that come in as standard. I like that one …. space. It grabs me, space.

Willie Nicol: Yes, space …

David Logan: Did you know, that on Mars they’ve done the first helicopter flight last week?

Willie Nicol: I did read about that, yes.

David Logan: Anyway, back to reality, back down to earth. So, a green screen lets you do that.So, what we’ve got here is a green screen behind us as you can see. We call it a green screen in, or they call it a green screen, in video studios. You just need one colour, one plain colour. So, in my case it’s green. You can have blue but beware if you have blue you can’t wear a blue shirt, or it comes over that.

Willie Nicol: I understand that green is the most neutral colour, particularly in terms of our face pigmentation which is why it’s called a green screen.

David Logan: Yes. Yes. So, there’s not many people you see wearing green either is there?

Willie Nicol: Not unless you’re an Irish rugby player, but anyway.

David Logan: That’s a good point but we’ll keep the Irish to the side for now. We’ll stick to blue for Scotland.

David Logan: So, that’s the green screen. Now as far as equipment goes, I think this is where your knowledge comes in where you advise me. So, it was a green cloth, and it was a simple clothes hanger? That was from Amazon, was it?

Willie Nicol: Yes. All I did was I bought a clothes rail on wheel which you can adjust in height and width, right. And normally you would just hang your clothes on it from hangers, right. But the beauty of this is that it can be dismantled, or it can be compressed, put on the wheels and shoved in a corner.

Willie Nicol: Over that is just a piece of green material which I got on eBay for something like a tenner, right. Green material which hangs over the clothes rail and effectively gives me a green screen. So, I perhaps will demonstrate here .… So, all you have there is a piece of green material over a frame and the whole thing cost me in total 30 quid. So, it’s cheap as chips but it does the job. So, like you, I can use various things, whether the stock images already provided by Zoom or you can download your own images, assuming it’s not copyrighted, and pick and choose what you like. So, we’ll go back to that there. That’s as simple as that .… and there you have it.

David Logan: And you can see there, there’s my company logo there.

Willie Nicol: So, the actual physical material is no more complex than a frame with some green material over it and the next thing I’m going to ask about David is lighting.

David Logan: Okay. We need to be quick here. Lighting, okay, so, lighting can freshen up your face. If I switch this lamp off, or you can do that there, and you can see we have that slight glitch, just depends upon technology.

Willie Nicol: So, what I’m getting just now, my lighting is basically daylight coming in through my big lounge window. But at night when it’s dark, I use a little ring light I bought on Amazon for 18 quid.

David Logan: Yeah.

Willie Nicol: Which used to be a make-up light.

David Logan: Now, you’re facing the window, aren’t you?

Willie Nicol: I’m facing the window just now.  

David Logan: Okay. So, in the home office where I am, I’ve got windows to my left and I’ve got windows to my right. I’m not facing a window here so hence the reason I use the light. Do you see my face is a bit darker here? But a ring light sounds good though, that sounds good. I use a desk lamp on top of the monitor. The desk lamp is above here, and it points down to my face.

Willie Nicol: You just need the light somewhere near your camera, right, to shine light on to you so the camera picks you and your background up properly, is that correct?

David Logan: Your ring lamp, how much is that and where did you source that from?

Willie Nicol: It was from Amazon and it was something like 17 pounds odd, I’d say 18 pounds. And I think it’s actually a makeup facility. But it’s got a nice clip on it that I can clip to my desk. It’s got one of those bendy necks you can put it into whatever position you like. It’s a USB cable you stick into your monitor. There is a lighting control, you can make it brighter or darker or you can change from yellow light to white light. For the money it was cheap as chips.

David Logan: Okay. Interesting you’re saying there about making it lighter or darker. Last bit because we’re heading towards the time now.

David Logan: If you go onto settings within …. (Zoom) so you go back down the bottom left, same menu you use to choose the virtual background. Instead of choosing the virtual background, select video settings …. Mind you, you may need the latest version of Zoom here. If you’ve not updated it lately you might need to. But select that, you can select and adjust for low light. Normally it sets to automatic, so that’s the automatic setting there and my face has gone darker. Or you can make it manual and you can make your face darker or lighter. I don’t know if you know of that or not?

Willie Nicol: I had a vague idea David, but unfortunately .…

David Logan: That is, let me see here again. So, it’s where your “Stop video” option is, video settings, opens up a new window for you. But halfway down the video, actual video page, there’s a bit that says, “Adjust for low light”. Select that to ‘manual’ Then you’ve got a bar, a pointer on a line, you can push one way or the other way.

Willie Nicol: Every day’s a school day David. Unfortunately, I think we’re running out of time now. So, I’d like to thank you for all your information. Anything you’d like to add quickly before we go?

David Logan: Great to work with you. Yes, go for a green screen. It’s cheap as chips, £30 max. And a light, as Willie says, £17. So, you’re talking about £50 maximum guys and you’re all set. Go for it. We’ll stick the links on our website and on our social media channels. Back to you Willie.

Willie Nicol: Yes, David thank you very much. We’ll wrap it up now. I hope that’s been useful, ladies and gentlemen. Green screen, lighting, Zoom. There you are, you’re all set to go to have your Zoom calls and videos with a lovely virtual background.

Willie Nicol: So, all that remains for me to say is …. thank you for listening, be good, be safe, have some fun. Until the next time, goodbye.

David Logan: And remember, if you want to look for our videos, search in Google “The Techno Dinosaur Meets the I.T. Geek”, and you’ll see our videos. Have a great day everybody. Fantastic week. Stay safe, as my co-partner says.

David Logan: Goodbye for this week.

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