Which green screen is best?

Green screens offer an affordable solution for conveying animations, landscapes and other backgrounds created in post-production with a person as the foreground. Despite the many screens available, it’s easy to choose the best one for you with a bit of background knowledge. However, knowing what you’re buying can seem daunting, especially if you’re new to green screens.

The Elgato Collapsible Green Screen is convenient, featuring a retractable screen that’s easy to store and transport.

What to know before you buy a green screen

Color

To produce virtual backgrounds, editors use a process called chroma key, in which they separate specific colors in an image to create a composite, or layered, image. While it may seem obvious, most green screens come in green because the color isn’t found in natural skin tones. For chroma key compositing to work, however, there must be a wrinkle-free, consistently colored surface.

Stand vs. fabric

Most green screens come with a stand or hanging mount, though not all do. While green screens with mounting hardware or a frame may be a bit more expensive, they’re often preferred for their convenience. To save money, some buyers may choose to buy green screen fabric on its own.

Lighting

Another consideration when working with a green screen is lighting. It’s essential to make sure any lights used while shooting produce an even tone across the screen and shot. This saves editors the headache, letting them easily drop background images onto the screen.

What to look for in a quality green screen

Material

A green screen’s material can make or break its performance. They’re often made from paper, vinyl, polyester, muslin or cotton — though cotton tends to be the best quality. The best green screen materials also need to be nonreflective. It’s also helpful to have a green screen that’s machine washable in case of any spills or stains.

Size

Size is a significant factor when considering green screens. What size you need primarily depends on the size of your subject. If you have multiple subjects, you’ll also need to consider a large enough screen for the whole group to fit onto. Green screens can be as small as 3 feet by 5 feet, with large ones measuring 10 feet by 12 feet or larger.

Portability and storage

Some green screens are made to be easily portable and storable. These designs include retractable screens that are stored in metal housing. Consider a collapsible screen if you plan to travel with your green screen or want to stow it away when not in use.

Accessories

It may also be worthwhile to choose a green screen that comes with accessories such as lights, boom microphone stands or other audio-video equipment.

How much you can expect to spend on a green screen

Cheap green screens can cost as little as $10, while midrange options range from $30-$170. For high-end green screens, expect to spend $170-$400.

Green screen FAQ

Why are green screens green?

A. Green is used for editing backgrounds in post-production because it doesn’t reflect any natural human skin tones or hair colors — even more so than other colors. Still, you can use any color as a green screen, but green and blue are the most common.

Can you use a green screen for Zoom?

A. Yes. Many use green screens for online presentations on video chat platforms. This is a great option for conveying images other than your actual background during online meetings, not unlike how they’re used by meteorologists reporting the weather.

Tips

  • Avoid wrinkles. Wrinkled green screens can make it harder for editors to edit out the background in postproduction. Some screens can be ironed, steamed or washed to preserve the consistency of the background.
  • Use multiple lights. The more lights you have, the easier it is to create a consistent layer of lighting. If possible, use at least two to four lights, and maybe even more if it’s an extra-large screen.
  • Remove reflective items. Even small items an actor or individual wears like jewelry and eyeglasses can mess up shots in front of a green screen.

What’s the best green screen to buy?

Top green screen

Elgato Green Screen - Wall-Mounted

Elgato Collapsible Wall-Mounted Green Screen with Wrinkle-Resistant Fabric

What you need to know: This huge green screen features a retractable design that makes it easy to transport to and from shoots.

What you’ll love: This is simple to mount and it features a simple locking mechanism for when it’s fully extended. The screen measures about 58 inches by 71 inches and is made from a durable, wrinkle-free Dacron fabric with consistent color.

What you should consider: This green screen may be too large for some small spaces.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top green screen for the money

Andoer Photography Background

Andoer Photography Background Green Screen Fabric

What you need to know: This green screen fabric is a great option for budget buyers, featuring a simple rod pocket that can be used with any mounting pole.

What you’ll love: This screen is 108 inches by 72 inches, though it can also be purchased in a square configuration. It’s made from an antiwrinkle, super lightweight fabric that can be washed and ironed.

What you should consider: This only includes the fabric and doesn’t include hardware for mounting or setting up the screen.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

 Fotodiox Collapsible Chromakey Green + Blue 2-in-1 Background

Fotodiox Collapsible Chromakey Blue and Green Screens with Stand Kit

What you need to know: This kit includes two screens (one blue and one green) and collapsible stands that are perfect for storage or traveling.

What you’ll love: The screens are about 60 inches by 84 inches. When collapsed, the stand is only 2 feet, and it can be extended to about 84 inches tall. Purchase also comes with a 24-month manufacturer warranty.

What you should consider: These screens are thin and let some light pass through.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Peter McGuthrie writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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