Shooting white screen is cool. Shooting white screen gets rid of all the junk in your videos. So why not learn how to shoot against a white background?

Well, it’s a bit tricky. Maybe you’ve tried it without success or found that something was a bit off. This video should set you right again.

Enjoy learning how to shoot against a white background and instantly make your videos look more professional!

    54 replies to "How to Shoot With a White Background"

    • cheetu

      Very cool video Steven; I am really enlightened about the white screen.

      Thanks for the video

      Cheetu ๐Ÿ™‚

    • kathy kirk

      Hi Steven,
      Loved this video and learned a lot. I’m trying to figure out how to do this in the limited space I have. Would a plane white wall work as well?
      I belong to a marketing mastermind group and have shared your links with them.
      Thanks for what you do – so well. kk

      • Steven Washer

        Yes, Kathy. A white wall would work well. (Oo. Say that 3x fast ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Honor Dargan

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for this great demo! Especially re setting myself behind the lights that are lighting my backdrop. I am new to all of this and haven’t even bought my proper lights yet but all this is making sense and helping me plan ahead.

    • Allison Rapp

      As always, thanks for giving me an awful lot to think about. The first thing that comes to mind is… where’s the space where this can work without being taken down all the time?

      Our next-door neighbor is a professional photographer who is away a lot and we have access to his studio. Thing is — he’s a natural-light photographer, so there’s a lot of it in his studio and it can’t be shut out. Can this work in a set up like that — would the light we direct where we want it be enough to overcome what’s come from big high windows and a sliding glass door?

      Oh, it’s so tempting to just rip out a wall and…

      • Steven Washer

        It might work if you can get enough additional light on the white backdrop. As you saw in the video, it’s the big differential between subject and background that makes it work properly.

        A lot of people set up something in their garage. I know, I know, but as long as it isn’t snowing…

        • Allison Rapp

          No garage… it became part of the house long before we bought it!

          We do have a large open studio where we offer our Feldenkrais classes … I’m just trying to find a place where I can leave the set up without worrying about steaming the background all the time.

    • Wiz Withers

      Hi, Steven!

      Thanks for the white screen demo. Good to know that it’s not prohibitively expensive to create such a backdrop. However, there are certain tools (like a manual camera) that are absolutely required to make it work.

      Speaking of “over-exposed” – you better get a voice distortion device before you put your next protected witness on camera! I think his cover is now blown! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Steven Washer

        Shoot. And I thought we did such a good job of keeping him in the dark ๐Ÿ™‚

    • David Joslin

      Love it! And adding Timmy the Tapper makes a blast to watch!

    • Peter Anthony Gales

      Another great video Steve. Curious though; if one is going after one multipurpose backdrop is a green screen the best choice? Can’t you also get that white backdrop effect by using a green screen? Until this video I actually thought that every white background came from using a green screen.

      • Steven Washer

        It’s very difficult to get white from green. Unless you have a very high-end camera you end up with a nasty green fringe around the subject.

        The quest for an all-purpose backdrop probably does end at green, however.

    • Lisa

      Wow, so informative. And FUN!!!! You’re Awesome!

    • Marcus Stout

      Awesome Video Steve!

      What about a Black Screen (like Apple uses)?

      Do you need the same setup or is the lighting more forgiving due to the shadows blending in more?

      • Steven Washer

        Thanks for giving me the subject for my next video, Marcus! ๐Ÿ™‚
        But as a downpayment, yes, you need far fewer lights for black screen than for white. The tricky parts of black screen I’ll explain in the next video…

    • Chad Schultz

      The website may be plain and simple, but the video was wonderful! Extremely valuable, detailed, actionable information–just what I look for. I also appreciated how much effort you put into the video; clearly this was not a “shoot, talk, go straight to upload” type of production. It comes off looking very smooth and slick. I’ve always wondered about how to get that nice, clean background.

      My one suggestion is that a PDF cheat sheet would be quite useful to use after watching the video for when shopping for the materials or actually setting it up.

      • Steve

        Great observations all! I’ll be using pdf worksheets starting mid-December when a new series of videos launches. Hope you’ll stay tuned. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Jurgen Wolff

      Very helpful, and I’m looking forward to the video on black screen!

    • Barbara

      Very helpful Steve. Thanks.

    • Dan Derry

      Brilliant video, full of some exceptionally good and useful information.
      Far be it for me to mention the wrinkles in the bottom left and right hand corners of your white sheet – sorry, just being pedantic here. Obviously I’ve got far too much time on my hands.

      • admin

        Thanks. Next time I’ll use my magnifying glass! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Docrusspt

      Very cool! I have a question, what is the advantage of white screen over green screen?

      • admin

        Ease of production!
        Green screen is difficult to manage well. You really need a good camera and the post-production requirements are rigorous to say the least. The advantage is that you can remove the background and replace it with whatever you want.

        With white screen you shoot it and you’re done. Easy-peasy! But of course you can’t replace the background with something else. Well, you can, but that’s a whole ‘nother video ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Duncan

      Great video Steve, very helpful.

    • Andy

      Hi Steve,

      Great video and tips. Is there any chance of pulling this kind of thing off with my trusty Kodak Zi8? I can’t find manual controls for letting more light in…


      • admin

        It’s a lovely little camera, the Zi8, but this is a bit beyond its paygrade ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Neil Smith

      Am I late to the party again!


      • admin

        Not at all. We’re getting a little low on video chai, but you’re more than welcome ๐Ÿ™‚

        • admin

          Um…I mean “vanilla” chai…

    • Sergio Felix

      Hey Steve,

      SUPER cool tips man but wow, I don’t see how could I possibly fit all of that into a small 4×4 room.

      Do you have any tips for reduced space?

      I think I’m going to do some DIY experiments for the lightning and hopefully I won’t end up burning the house down lol

      Thanks in advance! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • admin

        A 4 x 4 room is smaller than many closets. I can see why you’re concerned about burning down your house! Seriously though, 4 x 4 isn’t enough room to get the camera far enough in front of you to light the background and foreground separately.
        But if you work it out I hope you’ll come back and post a link to your video. And there are tons of other videos you can make.

    • Belinda Pollard

      Great stuff Steve. Thanks. I’ve tweeted this.
      p.s. you need a tweet button ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • admin

        Right you are, Belinda. And thanks for the tweet!

    • Molly Gordon

      Great video, Steve. I searched Amazon and found several backdrops (fabric only) for under $40, but the stands were extra (about $70). It’s still a reasonable investment, but I’m wondering if you have a link for a set that runs around $40.


    • Matt Perry

      Great video Stephen!

      I really liked this one. I use a combination of Day Flo lights and Home Depot fluorescent lights. This allows me to light the entire screen and makes my keying (w/ green screen) a lot easier. Obviously, you need to make sure the temperature colors are identical (or very close), and make sure you use lights with electronic ballasts (not magnetic) so they don’t buzz constantly.

      • admin

        Good points, Matt! A lot of people don’t know about the ballast issue, so thanks for the reminder.

    • Ian

      Hi Steve – this is by far the best video on doing whitescreen I’ve seen – i keep recommending people to come and watch it.

      Here’s a tip I’ve learned very recently.

      My problem with whitescreen so far has been that my lights haven’t been powerful enough to illuminate a big area – so I ended up doing mainly headshots when I wanted to get at least the top half of my body in so I could gesture and stuff – and also so I could add in text and other stuff later to the side of me.

      What I realised recently is that I could do this by simply having the lights in close to me to get the stuff behind me perfect white. The lights are visible on the video, but I can then use my video editing software (screenflow) to paste blocks of white over the lights so I get a big expanse of white round me.


      • Steve

        That is interesting, Ian. I’d like to see what that looks like. Good on you for being ingenious enough to accomplish this with practically no resources!

    • Ian

      Hi Steve – I wouldn’t say no resources – I have the standard three light softbox setup with an extra light too.

      Part of my original problem may be that the manual exposure on my camera is pretty basic – no f stops or fancy stuff – you just kind of crank it up until the backdrop looks really white.

      Part of it is definitely my pedantry – I want the background to be absolutely pure white – no slightly greys!

      And part of it may be that I’m not sophisticated enough with the setup – I have a feeling from your instructions that the whiteness of the background isn’t just to do with the power you put on the background but also the contrast with how much you have on yourself?

      Anyhoo – you can see an example of one of the videos I’ve done recently where I overlay big blocks of white in the editor here:



      • Steve

        Nicely done, Ian! Yes, the keys are to light the white screen separately and to blow out the exposure of the white screen by exposing for yourself first. That usually does it unless you are extremely light-skinned ๐Ÿ™‚

        Having said that, you’ve achieved an excellent result with very few lights!

    • Ian

      Aha. I light the backdrop separately – but I have a feeling I may be lighting myself too brightly – not enough contrast with the backdrop.

      What I’m doing right now is setting the exposure so that the backdrop looks “really bright” – and then putting myself in the shot. I guess I would need someone else to work the camera to get the exposure right for me first?

    • Nathan Wei

      Hi Steve,
      Can you tell me how to open up more light on the video setting with a Canon DSLR (T3i)?

      • admin

        Make sure you’re in manual mode and pull down the iris toward a lower number. The lower the number, the more light you’re letting in. Also, a slower shutter speed will let in more light.

        But I think if you just do the iris thing you’ll get all the light you need. If that doesn’t work, then you simply need more light!

    • Ashford promo code

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      • Steven Washer

        I would decide what I wanted to be known for, who I want as a client, then start writing…a lot. At least a couple of times a week. And make it really, really good stuff.

        Keep doing this for about 2 years, then you will get known and be able to make a living, maybe.

        If you want to make it happen faster, create some great video training, post it to YouTube, G+, Facebook and your homepage, link that to another video training they can opt in to, then link that one to a sales video, and the whole thing can be up and running in 30 days.

        That’s what I would do were I starting today.

        Best of luck in getting your virtual empire off the ground!

    • Laura

      Hey Steve. Thanks for the informative and encouraging video. I’ve purchased all the goodies and also got a halo/ring light which really seems to help. Do you have any suggestions on how I use (or not use) the white screen if I’m shooting exercise videos? I can’t extend the screen onto the floor for obvious safety reasons, and it looks really strange having a bright white backdrop and then hardwood floors and exercise mats.

      Any suggestions would be so appreciated.

      • Steven Washer

        You are right, in a sense. It would not be a good idea to use a white backdrop for this video. The primary backdrop in this case is the floor. What you would want ideally would be a fairly large empty space with a neutral background in the distance. Or a gym-type background if you’re close up; just something that sets the scene for what you’re doing.

        Make sense?

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