How to Get a Blurred Background in Video

Do you want to know how to make the background look blurry in your video? Find out how to shoot videos with blurred out backgrounds, plus two hacks for getting it done in post production.

Do you want to get that beautiful, blurred background in your shots, you’ve probably seen it everywhere and love the way it looks, but you don’t quite know how to achieve it. Today, I’m going to show you the real way to do it. And then like a couple of cheats to get it done too. My name is Jenn Jager. I’ve worked in professional video production for like, a couple decades, it’s been a minute, I can’t believe how long I’ve worked in production. But I know all the tricks to get this stuff done. I have this YouTube channel where I show you how to do it, I help you grow your YouTube channel and just generally talk about video marketing in general. So if any of that sounds good to you, hit that subscribe button. So now let’s talk about getting that blurred background, what it’s really called is depth of field. And achieving depth of field is like very scientific. There’s like all sorts of mathematical calculations about your lens, and like the sensor in your camera. And I’m not going to get into all that today, because you don’t really need to know it, you just need to know like how to get it done.

Depth of Field

The first thing you want to do, if you want to get the real depth of field look, is to look for a longer length lens. So what that means is that when you use a lens if you’re using a prime lens, and a prime lens is a lens that does not zoom in and out. If you’re using a prime lens, you want to look for a lens with a higher number that is going to give you more depth of field, but you’re also going to sacrifice like how wide your shot is, right. So if you’re trying to do like a real estate shoot where you really want to show a room and make it look bigger than it is in real life, you don’t want to use this type of lens. But if you’re trying to get that blurred background, this is the type of lens you want to use. Next, if you have a zoom lens, you’re going to want to zoom in as close to that subject as possible. Let’s cut to Rob here, he’s over our sound buffering wall. And you can see here as I zoom in, watch that background, that background gets blurrier. So that’s almost the same effect as using a long length lens, I’m using the longest length I can get with my zoom lens to achieve that effect.

Distance From Camera, Subject, and Background to Get That Blur

Now another trick is that you want to shoot in the biggest space you can find. So you can get as much distance as possible between the back wall and your subject. And then again, as much space as you can get between your subject and your camera, giving that a lot of space between the subject and the back wall allows you to really blur out the background, and then giving yourself a lot of space between you on the camera. And your subject allows you to see as much of the frame around the subject as possible. So you’re not just like so super close up in their face. Another way to help really blur out that background is to open up your aperture or on a video camera, we call it the iris, Iris up, you’re really helped blur out that background. Now, if you Iris up too much, and your subject becomes too bright, what you can do is raise your shutter speed to kind of cancel out that brightness. Or you can even use what’s called a neutral density filter. If you have a nice video camera like this one, the neutral density filter is already built into the camera. But if your camera doesn’t have that neutral density filter built in, you can actually buy an external one that screws on to the front of your lens to help block out that light.

Why Is A Tripod Important?

The last thing to remember is that if you’re zoomed way in, any movement from your camera is amplified. So it’s really hard to shoot handheld if you’re shooting with a long lens or zoomed all the way in on that camera. So you might want to invest in like a nice tripod so I can get a nice steady shots. And then the other thing to know is that if your subject leans forward, or leans out, they’re going to go in and out of focus a little bit so they really have to sit still.

Depth of Field Cheats

Now let’s talk about those cheats. Your first option is to shoot over a green screen. That way you can drop in any background in the world that you want, and then blur it out and post production. Look at what we just did for a recent client. The other option is to use an app so you can take your raw video and then blur around your subject after the fact. But watch what happens here. As Rob moves his arms, you can see that the blur effect is applied to that entire section of the frame that I selected so his hands look out of focus. I’m not crazy about these apps, you really have to have the right conditions for them to look okay. But if you’re really hell-bent on getting that blurred background, and you don’t have any other way to do it, I guess you can use it.

So what other production tricks do you want to know from me? Ask me anything in the comments. I hope you learned something and if you did, hit that subscribe button. I’ll see you guys next time.

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Jenn Jager

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