How to Create a Black Background Behind Your Subject
I know that not everyone likes a black background behind their subject. In some situations, I don’t either. But I use it a lot. It’s easy to set up. It draws attention to the speaker, and it makes colors come alive.
The black background look is great for interviews if the location of your speaker isn’t important.
It totally depends on the situation, but a black background in your video can be a good idea for several reasons:
Black Backgrounds Are Easy to Set Up
You don’t need extra lights for the background. In fact, you want to try to keep the light off the background.
A Black Background in Your Video Eliminates Distractions
One of the most common distractions I see in videos is a busy background. Clearly people would prefer to look smart on camera, but I think it’s a mistake to err on the side of putting your subject in front of book shelves that are loaded with multi-color book spines.
(I can’t be the ONLY person who tries to see what the book titles are…)
It might be helpful to think of things this way — anything we choose to put in the frame with our subject, is potential competition with our subject. If it supports the subject, then great — leave it in. But if not, then it might be best to take it out completely.
A black background helps do this. It takes away any sense of location and helps the viewer focus on the speaker, and I think especially on their ideas.
A Black Background Makes Colors Pop
Colors appear more saturated and lively against a black background. That’s generally something I like to do to.
A black background adds a serious tone, so it’s probably best for adults and more serious ideas. I generally wouldn’t shoot comedic material against a solid black background.
Can you imagine the Apple “I’m a Mac” commercials in front of a black background? Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? It wouldn’t work.
How to Create a Black Background
- I use non-reflective black fabric from FJ Westcott. Personally I’ve found heavy black fabric to be less reflective than black paper, so it’s easier to have the background go completely black.
- Keep light off the fabric.
I recommend you try this technique on an interview and see if you’re happy with the results. Like I mentioned, it’s not the best thing in every situation, but it’s hard to go wrong with a black background.