How to Set up a Great Green Screen for Under $100

It goes without saying that there comes a time when you decide that you want to start playing with a green screen but can’t justify the expense for some metal poles and fabric without knowing whether it is worth your time and money. Luckily for you, I have taken that upon myself to review the Photo Studio Adjustable Background Stand Backdrop Support System by Neewer. I had picked up this set based on my previous purchase track record with Neewer. This is because I have been mostly happy with their products. 

Green screens have many applications, whether that is to chroma key in adobe to replace the screen with a background of your room. This could be your room without a mess in the background or possibly to remove your bunk bed from your stream background, it can do many things. The use case that I wish is to use is to improve my YouTube Thumbnails as well as have the flexibility to potentially record videos with a controlled background.

Life Hack Print off a picture of your sink

It is important to choose the correct material and stand size for the type of shooting you plan to do. Following this, there are helpful tips that you can follow to improve your time when first using your green screen.

Part 1: Selecting the Right Green Screen Size for you

Green screens come in all shapes and sizes and it is important to understand this before selecting the support system size and choosing the fabric. There is a great article that outlines how big a screen you should get depending on your needs and I recommend you check it out after reading this

What size backdrop

I personally picked the 10ft w x 6.6ft h system with the 10ft w x12ft h cloth. Keep in mind if your system is too large, you can always remove joins in the crossbar and pull the fabric to one side. The loose material can then be held down by a spring clamp included in the kit. However, this is not possible in reverse if the system is too small. It is important to note that once you set your actor a few feet in front of the screen and set up the lighting and camera, the screen may completely be too small for the frame.

However, this should not be an issue if you mask out the frame and then chroma out the backdrop.

Part 2: Unboxing & Ironing out all of the creases

Once delivered, it is suggested to set up the screen before your first shoot to remove the fold lines and creases from the cloth. There are two suggested ways, one however, is much more dangerous and extreme care is needed if using this option. For both options to work, the system will need to be deployed and the fabric will need to be stretched and clamped down as well as weight added to hold down the fabric. Once that is complete:

  1. Use a garment steamer, they are pretty cheap or get one from your mom’s linen cupboard and begin removing the creases. The weight from the sandbags / your gym bag or a shopping bag full of melons will add the needed tension whilst you remove those creases like any other garment. If you do not own a garment steamer, however;
  2. The more dangerous option, hence, proper care and precautions need to be taken. This requires you to boil water and pour it into a plastic/metal spray bottle and spray the crease lines. This will mimic the garment steamer action. However, do not screw the spray bottle shut as it may explode! This may also deform the sprayer’s components as they are made up of plastic and can be deformed from the heat of hot water. Ensure to be careful when holding it as, if the bottle is metal, it will quickly heat up to the burning temperature of the water. If the bottle is plastic, it may warp and still will heat to hot temperatures.
  3. The third option is to do nothing and not iron the creases out. However, you are continuing with the risk that your frame may still have crease marks when you try to chroma key it in post. But, with some time, effort, and a few well-placed clamps & sandbags, you can have the screen have no creases without having to iron in the first place.

Part 3: Filming with a green screen

Creases will not be your biggest issue if you have not had experience in shooting with green screens before. If you don’t take the correct steps to making sure that you have the right lighting positioning as well as having your subject be standing away enough from the screen to prevent shadows. Obviously, selecting a larger screen will provide you with more lighting flexibility, however, take up more real estate in your shooting location.

lighting angles for green screens

As I had mentioned earlier, going with the combination I have purchased will allow you to reduce the system size to fit in tighter shots & rooms that can’t accommodate a 10ft green wall. You simply pull the leftover fabric to one side and pull the fabric tight similar to how you would if it was full size. The only negative of this is that this side of the screen is unusable real-estate. However, I would imagine if you needed a larger area to work with, you would not have removed a rung, to begin with.

Part 4: Packing Green screen away

At the moment, I have stowed my green screen kit with my other camera & filming equipment, such as Neewer Ring light, tripods, etc. However, with my material, I did not want to have to thread the material onto the pole again. Hence, I have left one rung out of the kit and left all of the material threaded onto it and stored it hanging over a clothes rack pole. However, this may leave it prone to being creased along the top. However, I feel like clamping the top tight will under any small creases. It also means I can just attach the other poles to this and just run the fabric along instead of needing to thread it onto a  pole in the first place. 

Although $150 for a bit of green fabric and some black metal poles seems like a lot, the additional value that it provides is worth magnitudes more. This allows me to replace my background with more appealing visuals as well as the ability to shoot advanced videography shots. However, the most value purchasing this green screen is for me, is actually reducing and improving my YouTube thumbnail time. This is possibly why many gaming creators use a green screen in their production. The power it brings to improving their thumbnails leads to viewers clicking on their videos improving their success.

My Last word is go out there and just give it a try, even if you have green bed sheet in the closet!