In addition to guest posting on the UpCity blog, Spotburner is featured as one of the Top Video Production Companies in Los Angeles. Check out their profile here.

As many videographers know, we now have access to the same technology that the big movie studios use to create virtual sets and imaginary worlds.

Video production has grown exponentially in the last five years as online video has become the number one strategy for attracting brand engagement online. The tools to create these videos have become easier to use, ranging from HD phones with great editing apps to smaller high-quality video cameras.

One type of organic video that has become popular in the past few years is user-generated content. It is now a large part of the millions of videos that are posted online. They are often spontaneous without much consideration for the background because “UGC” videos are all about the subject and the action. One article by Entrepreneur details this strategy in more detail, sharing that social proof is a much more compelling sales proposition than alternative forms of “selling”.

digital sets

An example of a green screen and how different backgrounds can be used on a digital set.

If you want to create videos that require a setting that you don’t have access to, a digital set might be the answer. Digital sets are not nearly as complicated to create as you may think. If you have a high-resolution photograph of the background you would like to have for your video, that image can be super-imposed into a video file, which is called “keying” or “compositing”.

Most types of editing software include an application that allows for keying. This process typically begins by shooting the video against a solid, well lit, green screen background. Then, in the editing process, the green is keyed-out and the image replaces the green in the editing timeline.  

A great example of a video produced on green screen can be seen above. If the subject of your video is green (think about shooting a tennis ball) or needs to wear green, just pick a background color that will not be in the shot and use that color to key-out. Blue is very common, but we have even shot on a pink background because our subject was both green and blue!

Lighting is very important when using digital backgrounds. The background must be lit evenly, without any shadows. Once this is accomplished, it is time to light the subject.

The main light on the subject is what we often refer to in production as the “Key Light”. There are often one to three lights to obtain good lighting on the subject, with the objective of achieving even lighting, without looking artificial. A “Backlight” (usually behind and above the subject) is a light that is also essential to lighting a green screen subject for a shoot like this. The backlight defines the subject from the green screen and creates a separation, so that when the green is replaced with a digital set, the integration of the two elements looks seamless.

If you want to shoot a video at a lake with a mountain background but are located in the city, you can accomplish the project using the same techniques as the big studios with the right equipment and a little practice. Keep your subject separated from the green screen background with proper lighting and experiment with software that facilitates digital keying and your video production capabilities will greatly expand!

A final example of how this technology can be used is to create a setting that does not exist in “real life”.  

This music video produced by our studio for Steve Aoki and Tiësto shows how you can place people or objects into new and creative environments. Thanks to the power of digital backgrounds, your options for business and marketing videos are now nearly limitless!

Bob Bekian
Bob Bekian
Founder at

Bob Bekian is the founder of Spotburner, an LA based video production company. He has directed and produced over 1000 professional videos for companies like Amgen, Acura and Menchie’s.