Serif in Education

Some of our best Green Screen ideas

What do you watch on TV that uses green screen? If I asked 100 people that question, I guarantee most people would say the weather forecast. Green screen has been used to present the weather for decades as the idea is a simple one – if you shoot live TV, a film or video with a single coloured backdrop, you can replace it with any other video clip, graphic or still image.

When it comes to the weather, we all know that the reporter isn’t really standing in front of a human-sized map! One of my particular favourites of when green screen and its effects have been ‘rumbled’ is when a weather report was interrupted by a cat, which sneaked across the screen (you can watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCIRsQ7ENsc)

Green screen in movies however has become so sophisticated that often, we can’t tell when special effects are being used and what is actually real. Before the development of ‘green screen’, special effects were pretty much nonexistent in Hollywood movies. Where they were present, the effects were unconvincing at best.

However, in the 1930s filmmaker Larry Butler developed a scene featuring a genie escaping from a bottle for the film ‘The Thief of Bagdad’ using blue and green screen. This led the way to a new world of special effects.

Along with his green screen, Butler also developed the process by which effects were created using the screen. This technique was referred to as “Chroma Key.” Today, film makers still use the exact same process to film special effects.

Many schools are already discovering the effects of green screen by experimenting with it in the classroom.  Whether it’s creating a weather forecast in a foreign language (MFL), filming a music video (music), giving a historical news report (History), or re-enacting a recent school trip (Geography), there are endless ways that green screen can be used creatively across the curriculum. Here, I’ve provided a few ideas, but we’d love to hear yours. Tweet us at @serifeducation. For a full PDF of green screen ideas using MoviePlus X6, visit http://www.serif.com/education/videos/movieplus/green-screen-ideas.pdf.

1. Music video (Subject: MUSIC)

Ever wanted to bring a bit of magic into your music lessons? Green screen is the perfect motivation for students to take what they’ve learnt and mimic their favourite idol. Play guitar at Wembley or create surreal music videos. Pupils can record themselves rocking out against a green screen, removing the background and adding audio in MoviePlus to play in impossible locations.

2. Get animated (Subject: ENGLISH)

Use green screen to re-enact that book you’ve all been studying with fun animations that really bring it to life! Combine live action with stop-motion, for monster movies that ‘ape’ King Kong. Import animated GIFs (e.g created in DrawPlus or Animate IT!) into MoviePlus, adding a ChromaKey clip of students on the track above.

3. Clone students (Subject: SCIENCE)

For clever scenes where students have a twin, capture two videos against a green screen into MoviePlus. Add a 2nd video track to layer them, removing the backgrounds. Try using Transform to flip one clip for a ‘mirrored’ video. This could fit perfectly with a science lesson on life processes and living things.

4. News Just In (Subject: GEOGRAPHY)

A great one for a lively Geography lesson! One of the best know uses of green screen, students can make weather forecasts or school news bulletins by recording interviews against a screen, layering backdrops and images in MoviePlus.

5. Time travel (Subject: HISTORY)

Travel back in time to really get a taste of what life was like in Tudor times. Create the illusion of time travel by combining a green screen clip with another video, and adjust the Play speed of each in the Properties pane. Try adding an ‘Old film’ effect onto speeded up clips.

6. Freeze! (Subject: DRAMA)

Often used in battle scenes, students can create slow-mo effects in impossible sets. Record action shots with a green screen, import into MoviePlus to swap backdrops, split clips, slow playback speed or add static frames.

7. Sports Analysis (Subject: PE)

The ideal tool for perfecting that kick/run/jump/throw, green screens can provide simple backdrops to review technique in PE. Import footage in MoviePlus to preview with playback controls – even remove the backdrop to overlay and compare progress in earlier clips.

Remember, Heads of ICT can get started using ChromaKey with their free green screen and copy of MoviePlus X6 – contact us for more information.