Last updated: July 1, 2020

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Special effects appeared very shortly after the birth of cinema. In fact, the first effects were used only a couple of years after the invention of the cinematograph by the Lumière brothers. One of the pioneers of special effects is the Frenchman Georges Méliès, who went from being an illusionist to a filmmaker.

Nowadays, the technology and tools we have to create these effects are much more advanced, but many are also within everyone’s reach. In the following article, we will introduce you to the green screen, an accessory used for one of the most common techniques in the audiovisual world. Are you ready to learn more about it?

Key Facts

  • Chroma key compositing is a technique used in film, television, and photography. It consists of recording or taking a photo on a background – generally green – before replacing the colored area with another image or video in the post-production phase.
  • Green is used because it is very different from skin colors and far less common in clothing than blue. In addition, digital cameras use the Bayer filter mosaic. This means that green sensors are much more sensitive than red or blue, requiring less light to illuminate themselves and the image having less noise.
  • Before you decide on a specific green screen, you will have to consider a series of critical factors. These include size, transportability, color, additional features, and naturally, the quality of the product.

Our Selection: The Best Green Screens on the U.S. Market

You might think that the model you purchase doesn’t really matter as long as it’s green. This isn’t true. As you will discover below, there are various types of screens on the market, each with their own characteristics that will influence your final decision. Let’s have a look at our selection of the best green screens currently available out there:

Best Green Screen: Amazon’s Choice

Are you all set in the accessory section, with a place and support to hold your green screen? Then this incredibly affordable model might just be all you ever need. With measurements of 5 x 7 feet, it is made from environmentally friendly fabric that you can easily carry around wherever you need. A quick ironing process will get rid of the wrinkles in no time! Besides, you can choose from 11 other colors available.

Best Collapsible Green Screen

Do you want to create your own little studio in a specific area? Elgato’s green screen comes with everything you need to let your imagination do its work. The best thing about this product? It is incredibly easy to assemble and store. What’s more, its collapsible design also allows it to stand on its own. While its price is more prohibitive than other products in our selection, its unique design is certainly worth it if it fits your needs.

Best Green Screen for Traveling

This ultra-foldable model by Fancierstudio is quite a different product. The edges around the muslin fabric allow you to unfold it quickly, leaving no wrinkles. You can easily store it in the carry bag with which it comes, giving the possibility to take it anywhere with you. Another key characteristic of this green screen is that, well, it is also a blue screen. Each side gives you a different color to work with, ideal when green features in your work.

Best Muslin Green Screen

Last but not least, this green screen by Neewer measures 6 x 9 feet and is made from 100% pure muslin. This material has a lesser tendency to wrinkle, so you won’t have to prepare the screen every time you want to use it. It doesn’t come with a support, but the rod pocket on one edge allows you to hang it with your own system. You can steam iron the screen but avoid dry ironing it.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Green Screens

Did you recently get into the world of video and photography? We’re sure that you are eager to start experimenting with the many tools that allow you to produce original special effects. You might even want to surprise your online followers with a different background to keep things interesting. Here is everything you need to know about green screens for chroma key compositing.

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The main reason why green replaced blue is that the latter is a more common color in clothing.
(Source: Bruno135: 28486502/ 123rf.com)

What is a green screen exactly?

The green screen is an accessory needed for the chroma key compositing technique, which is widely used in the audiovisual world. It consists of recording on a background of a specific color (usually green or blue), before replacing that colored area by another image or video in the post-production phase. Editing programs are required for this last stage.

From weather reporters to film directors like Peter Jackson, many turn to this very useful technique when looking to recreate fantasy environments or reduce the costs of recording in a specific place. That way, you can produce visual effects that transport us to unknown worlds and create a lot of fun optical illusions.

Why is the screen green?

Nowadays, it is the most common color, but black, white, blue, and more have been (and are) used for this technique. Blue was originally the most popular. The main reason why green has replaced blue is that the latter is a more common color in clothing, such as jeans, or in the color of the eyes. In addition, it is more expensive.

Nowadays, modern digital cameras use the Bayer filter mosaic.

There are twice as many green sensors as red or blue, so they are much more sensitive and require less light. In other words, the green channel of the camera has less noise due to the higher sensitivity of the sensors. Keep in mind that this is a specific shade of green.

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You don’t have to be an audiovisual professional to make the most of a green screen.
(Source: Lightfieldstudios: 120196683/ 123rf.com)

Besides, the blue matches the color of the sky, which makes the task a little more complicated if we want to record outdoors. However, the blue screen is necessary to record at night or with a very dark image. Ultimately, green and blue are the most common colors because they are the most different from skin colors.

Green screen Blue screen
Price More affordable More expensive
Use It is the most common. It is generally used for night videos and when there are green objects.
Skin pigmentation Rare Very rare
Effect Digital cameras are more sensitive to the green color (just like the human eye). It is the color of the sky, so it can produce reflections.

How do I get the most out of my green screen?

If you are not an audiovisual professional but want to make your way into this world, or if you simply want to have fun, here is a series of tips to improve the quality of your results when using a green screen:

  • Pay attention to the lighting: It should be as uniform and constant as possible to make the post-production work easier. You are advised to record in an environment where you can control the lighting.
  • Indoor recording: Place two spotlights on either side at a 45-degree angle and mid-height from the green screen.
  • Outdoor recording: Try to record at a time of day when the light is uniform.
  • The subject and the green screen are illuminated separately: The subject being recorded should be at least 6 feet away from the screen (the more, the better) to prevent color contamination in the subject and to avoid shadows. Always illuminate the actor according to the background image.
  • No wrinkles: make sure there are no wrinkles on the green screen. The fabric has a tendency to wrinkle, so you may have to use tweezers.
  • Be careful when using the same colors: As you can imagine, your actor should be dressed in green if you use this screen. Avoid green objects as well.
  • Avoid materials that reflect: these include glass and metals. You should also avoid very light colors like white.
  • ISO: Set the lowest sensitivity you have on your camera to reduce image noise and make the screen work better. You will end up with a cleaner image.
  • Color temperature: The color temperature of your camera has to match that of the lights you are using. You can use a photometer or the camera’s own exposure tools to measure the light intensity.
  • A good focus: It is important to keep the actor or object well-focused so that the edges are more defined, and it is easier to cut out of the green screen.
  • You can now proceed with your recording or photo session!
  • The final touch: During post-production, you will use an editing program to replace the green (or blue) area with the desired image.

What type of green screen should I get?

You should take several factors into consideration for this. Think about the size you would like your green screen to offer, and whether or not it is sufficient for what you want to do. The models that we have selected earlier do not exceed 9 x 15 feet, which is generally enough for you to do most things.

Regarding the installation of your green screen, remember that you must have a way to hang your screen if you decide to opt for a model without support. In addition, we encourage you to choose an easily transported screen if you need to work in different places. We will delve deeper into this criterion in the final section of our guide.

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Transportability is a key factor when buying your own green screen.
(Source: Lightfieldstudios: 120878231/ 123rf.com)

What is muslin?

This very thin fabric can be made of materials such as silk or cotton. Originally from Mosul, Iraq, it was first imported into Europe from India during the 13th century. However, its manufacture in North America did not take off until the 19th century. It is a very vaporous, thin, and transparent fabric that prevents overheating; it is often used to manufacture green screens.

Buyer’s Guide

Well, well, well! Now that you know the basics about this audiovisual accessory, let’s go over some of the aspects that you should consider before you get your own green screen and put your creativity to use. The following criteria will help you choose the model that best suits your tastes and projects:

Size

Size matters, both for the type of project you want to carry out and for the space available to you. As you noticed from our selection, most models on the market will measure up to 9 x 15 feet, with some exceptions. Before you make your purchase, check that the dimensions of the green screen you are interested in actually fit the type of project you want to work on.

In the same vein, you should pay attention to the size if you are looking to create your own small set at home. If you have enough space, you should easily extend the green screen without problems. Don’t forget to follow the recommendations we have given you earlier regarding the distances necessary to obtain optimal results.

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Most green screens on the market measure up to 9 x 15 feet.
(Source: Yodchompoo: 36007775/ 123rf.com)

Accessories

You have to analyze everything you need to make your ideas become a reality. You may not need anything but the fabric because you already have a support, and someone is lending you the lights. That way, the green color will be more than enough. In that case, go for the most basic option – as long as the size is right, of course.

If you are looking to set up your own little studio, on the other hand, you will probably want to go for something more professional. You have the possibility of acquiring a whole set that includes support, lights, various colors, and more. By having everything you need at your fingertips, you can let your imagination run free.

Transportability

This is a crucial factor when it comes to buying your green screen. Think about where you want to record and do photo sessions. As you have seen earlier, some models are much more portable than others; fast and easy to deploy is exactly what you’ll want. All the models of our selection can be transported, but some are harder to put together than others.

If you have set up your little set in a specific place and don’t intend on moving from there, you won’t necessarily have to look for a model whose main characteristics are lightness and ease of transport. The final decision is yours, but making an informed one is always the best solution.

Color

You naturally have to choose the color of your screen, too. While this article focuses on green screens, we have also discussed the possibility of doing chroma key compositing with other colors.

In fact, you should avoid this color if you intend on using it consistently on the actors or objects of your scenes.

As we mentioned earlier, you will also find blue screens – the second most common color for this technique. Others include gray, white, and black, which can also be very useful in specific contexts. Choose the color or colors you need based on your projects.

User Reviews

You can’t judge a book by its cover. In fact, we don’t recommend purchasing a product without first reading the opinions of past users. You can generally find useful information in these reviews, and the overall rating of the green screen can give you a good idea of its quality.

In addition, you can find dozens of forums on film or photography that have discussions on green screens or how to create different effects. We encourage you to make the most of the incredible online library. We are confident that you will find people who have similar projects to yours, and their opinion and experience can help you choose between various models.

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Summary

The world of green screens is probably more complex than you originally thought. The impressive visual effects that we can now see in films like Avatar or Lord of the Rings are the result of the incredible development of optical illusions since the very first film creations. Today, the chroma key compositing technique is accessible to anyone who wants to give it a go.

Whether you just want to try it out for fun or be the next James Cameron, the tools available at your fingertips allow you to let your creativity run wild. For this, all you need is to pick the right green screen for the needs of your projects. Don’t forget to take into consideration criteria such as size, color, transportability, overall quality, and the accessories that come with it.

We hope that you found our article on green screens helpful and informative. If that’s the case, feel free to leave us a comment in the section below. You can also share this article on your social media with anyone who might be interested in getting into special effects. Good luck!

(Featured Image Source: Rasslava: 35410265/ 123rf.com)

Why you can trust me?

Brett Holmes Technology Geek
Brett is a keen observer of the latest technology trends and knows his way around the industry because he runs an electronics store. He writes about it in his spare time and wants to help others learn more about the technology industry.