Green screens are an essential tool for every photographer or video maker but, if you’re a beginner, you might be overwhelmed by all the different options out there. That’s why I’ve done the research for you and put together this guide to the best green screen kit for beginners.
So let’s cut right to the chase: what is the best green screen for beginners? It has to be Elgato’s collapsible green chromakey panel. It’s a fantastic, easy to use, wrinkle-resistant green screen kit that keys really nicely. Because of how simple and effective it is, it’s my top recommendation for any beginner looking for their first green screen.
As I said, though, there are many different options out there. If the Elgato doesn’t suit your needs or budget, don’t worry – I’ve got you covered! Just read on and I’ll be reviewing the 10 best green screen kits on the market. But first, let’s make sure we’ve covered the basics.
A Beginner’s Guide to Green Screen Kits
If green screens are still a fairly new concept to you, it’s important to learn about what they are, how they work, and what to look for before you make your purchase. This will help you to make a smarter purchase decision. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know.
What Are Green Screens?
Green screens are essentially nothing more than a green background for you to record against. They’re used in ‘chromakeying’, a photo and video editing method used to create special effects and change the subject’s background.
Do you know those big-budget Hollywood movies set in fantastical worlds? Well, green screens are how they put that world together.
How Do They Work?
Editing software is capable of automatically removing whole blocks of color through ‘chromakey’ effects. With green screens, the subject is able to stand against a uniform block of color to be photographed or recorded.
Next, in post-production, an editor will apply a chroma key to remove all ‘green’ from the scene, which will render the background invisible. They can then add any other background behind the subject instead.
If chroma keying works with any color, why green? Well, that’s because green isn’t a very natural color when it comes to human biology. There is very little ‘green’ in the pigment of our skin and hair, and it’s not a particularly common color in clothing either. As such, when the chromakey is applied, it won’t remove any color from the subject.
What to Look For in a Green Screen
Here are 5 things you should look for when buying a green screen:
The screen should be a uniform shade of green without any lighter or darker patches. This will help the chroma key to be more effective and clean.
Some green screens are made of different materials than others. The best material is one that resists wrinkling and reflects light without any color spill. Many green screens are made from muslin. This is an affordable material but it wrinkles fairly easily and absorbs a lot of color. Nylon and reflective panels are a more high-quality alternative.
Naturally, the size of the green screen is important. It needs to be able to big enough to completely surround your subject and anything else you’re filming.
4. Ease of Use
As a beginner, ease of use is probably very important. You don’t want to have to spend weeks learning how to set up complicated and technical green screen kits and would probably prefer to just pop it up and get going. We’ve taken this into consideration when putting together the list of the best green screen kits for beginners below.
5. Lighting & Add-ons
Green screen kits tend to come with more than just the screen itself. Many come with lighting equipment to help you to light the scene. Lighting is important for photography and videography in general, but particularly so when using a green screen as you need to minimize shadow and maximize clarity for it to work well.
Consider the type of lighting you want carefully and factor this in. Also consider whether you’ll need any other add-ons, such as mounting brackets to help you set it up.
Ok, now you know what to look for, you’re ready to buy! Just pick your favorite green screen from the list below.
Picking the number one spot for this list was easy. There is simply no better green screen kit for beginners than this collapsible chromakey panel from Elgato.
It’s made out of a high-quality, wrinkle-resistant digital green fabric and has an auto-locking frame. Setting it up is pretty much instantaneous. You just pull it down and lock it in place – you’re done! You don’t have to worry about wrinkles so it always keys very nicely.
The only downside about this green screen is that it doesn’t come with any lighting equipment. That being said, the color is so pure and the fabric is so wrinkle-free that there probably won’t be any shadows or dark patches to worry about anyway. It does come with its own aluminum hard case.
Considering there’s no lighting equipment included, it’s not too cheap, but it’s not all that expensive either.
Next up, we have the LimoStudio photo shooting green screen kit. LimoStudio is a brand you’re going to see a few time on this list – they’re known for making great beginner-friendly green screen equipment.
Unlike the Elgato product above, this kit really is the complete set. It doesn’t just come with a green screen, but also a crossbar and support stand, 4 bulbs, 2 umbrella reflectors, 2 softbox diffusers, and a bunch of support clamps. It really has all you need to turn your home into a photography studio or basic film set.
Considering all the stuff you get, it’s got a very reasonable mid-range price tag.
If you really don’t need all that lighting and would prefer to save money, I’d recommend this LimoStudio green muslin backdrop instead. It’s probably the best budget green screen kit for beginners on the market.
It’s the same brand as above and offers the same level of quality, but it doesn’t come with any lighting. This makes it a good option for people that already have their own lighting equipment or a lot of natural lighting wherever they plan on filming.
Considering that it’s less than $20 and still mountable, it’s an absolute bargain!
The CRAPHY Photo Studio Umbrella Lighting Kit is a green screen kit designed for photography. If you’re a beginner photographer, I’d recommend choosing this.
Unlike the LimoStudio kits above, which are made out of muslin, this green screen is made of high-quality Nylon. Nylon does a much better job of reflecting and spreading light evenly to help with keying. It also makes for generally better quality photography lighting.
The energy saving, 5500k, daylight bulbs are excellent. It also comes with a black and white background, as well as the green one. This is great for any times when you need to photograph your subject against a plain background.
Next up, we have something a little different: the Fotodiox Pro 2-in-1 green screen kit. Unlike the others that we’ve talked about so far, this isn’t a piece of fabric that you drape over a pole. It’s a reinforced panel that pops up and back down again, kind of like a tent. This means that it’s sturdy and very quick and easy to set up.
It also has a reversible blue side on the back. You can flip it around to use it as a blue screen instead. Why would you want to do that? Well, blue screens can still be used to create a chromakey effect like green screens. If you’re wearing something green, using a blue screen for your key will prevent your green clothing from being keyed out too.
The only real downside to this kit is that it’s kind of small and doesn’t come with any lighting equipment.
What I love about this green screen kit is how easy it is to use. Have you ever used a windowshade before? If so, you already know exactly how to use this kit.
All you do is mount it on your wall and pull the string to roll it down when you need it. When you’re done, it rolls back up again. It’s very discrete and easy to hide out of sight when you don’t need it to save space.
You don’t need a floor stand and it keys great. Just make sure you have good natural lighting as it doesn’t come with any lighting equipment.
This green screen kit from StudioFX is another solid budget option. The backdrop is made of muslin, which I usually wouldn’t be very impressed by. However, it is high-grade, 100% cotton muslin, so it still keys very nicely.
Even with wrinkles, I didn’t have any problems with patches or colors bleeding over onto the subject when using this and the key came out totally clean. Judging by the other reviews, most people have a similar experience!
It’s fairly big at 10×20 so you should have plenty of room to capture your whole subject and move around a little.
Ok, this isn’t a green screen kit as such. However, it is a cool component that could complete your existing green screen setup.
It’s what’s known as a ‘chromakey body suit’. Rather than making your background green, this product allows you to make yourself green by donning a flexible green jumpsuit. This can allow you to make really cool special effects as it will render you invisible in the scene.
For example, you could make objects seemingly ‘float’, make your subject disappear, or create a whole bunch of other effects. You’re limited only by your creativity!
I wanted to include a chroma key paint for a little variety. These paints are used to paint your wall green to turn it into a green screen. This is what’s done in most professional photography and recording studios. The reason it’s the preferred method is that painted walls are easier to light than fabric thanks to their opaqueness and smooth, even texture.
Rosco’s is probably the best brand for these paints on the market. It’s very affordable too, which makes it great for beginners. Of course, you’ll need to have a wall that you’re actually happy to paint, but if you have one, go for it!
What’s easier to use than regular paint? Spray point! Why bother using a paintbrush to meticulously paint a wall when you can just shake up a can and do the job in minutes.
That’s why last but not least, we have the Filmtools Chroma Key Green Spray Paint. It’s not exactly a full kit, but if you pair it up with some lights and maybe a green floor mat, you have the makings of an awesome green screen studio.
How To Use Your Green Screen
Before we finish up, I wanted to leave you with some tips on how to use your green screen properly. This will make help you to make sure that the end result looks exactly how you want it to. Here are the basic steps you should follow.
Step 1: Set up the green screen
First thing’s first, set up your green screen by following the product’s instructions. If you’re using a fabric screen, try to make sure that the fabric is stretched out correctly to minimize wrinkles. Set up your lighting so that the set is well-lit and there are no harsh shadows.
Step 2: Position your subject 3 feet away
Your subject should be at least 3 feet away from the backdrop itself. This is to make sure that they don’t cast a shadow on the screen as this will skewer the results.
Step 3: Position your camera properly
You should make sure that the camera captures the full length and width of your subject and green screen. The green screen should be centered in the frame and. ideally, take up the entire shot so that you don’t have to crop off the edges in post.
Step 4: Record it
Not much to say here. Just hit record and get the shot!
Step 5: Upload it to your editing software and add a chromakey effect
Now comes the fun part. Upload it to your computer via a USB or SD card and open it in your editing software of choice to add a chromakey effect. Most professional editing tools will have this effect built-in. It will immediately remove the green screen backdrop.
You can then import a different clip with a different background and place it in a layer behind your clip so that your subject appears on the new background.