Even though white screen is mucho popularo, black screen can be very dramatic and compelling when you use it the right way. Plus there are some very cool side benefits!

It uses less room space than what you need for white screen
It uses less lighting than white screen.
You don’t need a fancy camera; sometimes not even manual controls.

There are just a few little “gotchas” to watch out for. That’s why I made this video. So now you don’t have to worry about it. You can just implement!

But please watch the video first 🙂

    33 replies to "Secrets of the Black Screen Background"

    • joe

      Great video Steve. Appreciate the tips. Personally I like the black screen video better.

      • admin

        Really. I mean, isn’t it cool?

    • Ken

      Great video, Steve – amazing what a change of emphasis and lighting can do!

      • admin

        That’s why I like doing side-by-each comparisons. They help you make subtle but profound changes in your thinking.

    • Sam Thatte

      Your tutorials are just so helpful! Thank you so much for doing these. I am getting a lot of helpful knowledge and tips as I get closer to making my own videos.

      • admin

        Well, at least you know one more place to find reference material! 🙂 Thanks!

    • Dr. Russ L'HommeDieu

      Once again, Steve – you made me think about a whole new dimension for my videos. Thanks!!

    • paul wolfe

      Hey Steve

      Cool video. The other thing about black screen (IMO) is that you can get better results with a limited budget. I use black screen as you know…and the results are pretty good.


      • admin

        Your results are quite good, in fact!

    • Rodrigo Fernandez

      Great video Steve!
      I enjoyed your presentation, you are very funny and the info was great. One thing I would like to mention with regards to the “separation light” is that you have to be very careful, when using that light, not to create shadows in your face. You may notice on your video that, although you were almost successful at eliminating the shadows from the back, you created some shadows on your face which can be distracting (notice that in some instances you have “raccoon eyes.”

      A great way to create separation from the background without running the risk of getting shadows all over your face is by placing that same light behind you. This light can go above your head (as in your video) or to the sides. The light should be placed so that the back of your head as well as parts of the shoulders are illuminated. This will create a more pleasing and professional result. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

      • admin

        I noticed this during the edit (we had a very tiny monitor during the shoot) but it was already midnight and I couldn’t face reshooting. 🙁

        I know how to light. I was just exhausted and missed it this time. I would take it as a concept to be improved upon rather than the best possible result that can be achieved.

        • Rodrigo Fernandez

          Hi Steve,

          Meant no disrespect! I was just giving my two cents. 😉

          • admin

            I know. It’s cool. I’m still grumpy and sleepy (and maybe Dopey and Sneezy).

    • Sergio Felix

      Hey Steven,

      I think black screen backgrounds look super cool and after checking out your tips I think it is actually easier than white backgrounds, just as you said.

      I think Eben Pagan used black screens a lot but also wore black clothing, I think he was trying to look really authoritative. I didn’t think it looked bad.

      Thanks for the tips!

      PS. Couldn’t avoid laughing at the “unless you want to look like an angel” bit LOL.

      • admin

        Thanks, Sergio! I remember those videos and doing a lot of squinting 🙂

    • Rick

      Thank you for the Video tutorials Steve, very useful stuff – how about a real low budget low tech video tutorial using a decent web cam maybe with an on-screen teleprompter and video broadcast using a digital “office/studio” style background?

      • admin

        Hmmm. Thanks for the suggestion. Stay tuned…

    • Wiz Withers

      Awesome video, Steve!

      My office/studio is in a spare bedroom, and I just don’t have the horizontal and vertical clearances for effective white screen lighting. (And my spouse is not keen on me turning the garage into a studio! 🙂 )

      These black screen tips will be a big help – thanks for sharing ’em.

      Hope you’re getting some flying done this spring – we’ll have to get together for a couple of $100 hamburgers!


      • admin

        That would be incredibly awesome, my friend! (but I think they cost $200 now)

    • Jim Craig

      Informative and enjoyable, thanks Steve. I’ve been struggling to get the “super cool Apple white” effect without success due to lack of powerful lights, and not enough space. This looks like another way to do super cool black.

      Great stuff 🙂

      – Jim

      • admin

        That’s great to hear, Jim. This should work for you as the intimidation factor is much reduced.

    • karim

      Another Great Video Steve,
      Thanks for sharing.

      • admin

        Thanks, Karim. Hope your videos are progressing well. Keep in touch!

    • Duncan

      I enjoyed this video Steve.

      What is the black screen made from?

      • admin

        Paper! From a photography store. Anyone could do better with cloth because cloth will absorb more of the light instead of reflecting it back like mine did.

    • Peter Sandeen

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for the video, it’s great 🙂

      I’m just starting to make videos (haven’t shot a frame quite yet), so this came at a great time. Actually for two reasons.

      1. I was somewhat worried about using white screen (getting good lighting is difficult in a small space).
      2. I now noticed I like black screen more than white 😉

      Any thoughts on should the black screen look black, black-ish, dark grey, or something else?

      • Admin

        Sounds like you’re gaining some confidence so that’s great! The only thing I can offer about the other colors is that white and black are both “infinite spaces”

        The others would be more like changing outfits. Aside from any psychological associations with any particular color, or your own branding, just make sure you don’t blend in!

        • Peter Sandeen

          Hi Steve,

          Thanks for replying 🙂

          Today I got an idea to use a really dark blue screen, which is a color I use in my website design. I guess I’ll just have to try it and see how it works…

    • Morris

      I like the black screen effect as it triggers imagination. Now had you worn a black jacket with the black shirt, I would have expected to hear music, perhaps “Ring of Fire”. Assuming your voice is deep enough.
      You really didn’t talk much about what can be acceptable material for black screen. Perhaps black screen material?

      • admin

        Heh. Then all you’d have had to say is “Hello. My name is Sue.”

    • Marina Brito

      I love these before and after videos. Since I don’t have very discerning eyes for video, being able to compare gives me the “aha” moments that I’d otherwise miss out on.

      Perhaps in the future, you’d like to show how many cameras and shots you used to create this many “sets” – and then how you did the editing.

      Thanks so much for the wonderful education. 🙂

      • admin

        Thanks Marina! That’s precisely what I was hoping. In this case the shooting was far more complex than the editing 🙂

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