The humble green screen is used in the majority of Hollywood’s big-budget action, fantasy, and sci-fi films. Green screen backgrounds in Hollywood, on the other hand, are far from humble.
Most scenes in these films are brought to life in post-production using advanced Green screen backgrounds techniques, which range from massive cyclorama sets to full-body green screen suits.
Many filmmakers want to replicate the effects, but it takes a thorough understanding of green screen sets and chroma keying to do so. Check out our Green screen backgrounds guide for everything you need to know.
The good news is that you don’t need a big budget or complicated equipment to make a convincing Green screen backgrounds set. There are several ways to DIY a Green screen backgrounds, whether you’re on a tight budget or simply in a pinch.
We’ve compiled a list of inventive ideas for both the Green screen backgrounds and lighting it.
Green Screen Kits at a Reasonable Price
Before we get into the Green screen backgrounds, we should point out that simple green screen kits are now more affordable than ever. Because “YouTube” green screen kits were not available when I was in college, I frequently had to make my own. The truth is that these modern kits will outperform most DIY setups. Typically, they cost around $100 or less. Check out our breakdown of the best green screen kits on the market if you already know you want one or if we just persuaded you to get one (for every type of user).
We’ll also list a few alternatives below.
Green screen setups, such as this Emart kit, are referred to as “YouTube Kits” by me. This is because these kits are popular among new YouTubers and anyone looking for a straightforward, all-in-one solution. Are these going to be high-quality kits? They will, however, be less expensive and more effective than most DIY setups.
Backdrop stands and support bars, green screen cloth backdrop, lights with stands, light dispersion, clamps, and a carrying case are all included in many of these kits. These kits are extremely difficult to beat for the price. These kits are often more expensive than a basic roll of seamless background paper.
Green Screen Popup
Green screens that are “pop-up” in nature, such as this one from Fancierstudio, can produce amazing results. Because of its simplicity, this is the type of green screen I use the most. The fabric becomes taut when expanded due to the collapsible pop-up design, leaving little to no wrinkles on the backdrop. This makes post-production keying out the green screen a lot easier.
The majority of pop-up backdrops are two-sided, with one side being Green screen backgrounds and the other blue. They’re usually around $40.
DIY Green Screens Kits
Let’s look at some DIY options now that we’ve seen how affordable modern green screen kits can be. The goal of these Green screen backgrounds options is to create a green screen solution that is even less expensive than the kits currently available. We’ll look at what free options are available in some cases. When it comes to making a green screen for under $100 (or even $40), you’ll have to think outside the box.
We’ll go over every component of a standard DIY green screen kit in the sections below, including:
- Backgrounds created with a green screen
- mounting and lighting stands
DIY Green Screen Backgrounds
Fabric from Craft Stores
For a DIY green screen, a fabric backdrop is your best bet. Large rolls of solid green and blue fabric, which you can choose from and cut to your own specifications, are usually available at craft stores. Fabric can also be purchased in this manner for a reasonable price.
Keep an eye out for the type of fabric as you shop for it. The heavy fabric will hang well and provide adequate coverage. However, it will be more prone to wrinkles and creasing. Although light, stretchy fabrics resist wrinkles well, they may not provide the same level of coverage as heavier fabrics.
Avoid using shiny fabrics, such as polyester satins, because they will reflect light and create unwanted “hot spots” on your background. Prepare to iron out any wrinkles or creases in the fabric. To ensure the best key possible, it must be completely smooth and wrinkle-free. You’ll also need to determine how you’ll hang the fabric. Some common solutions include hanging nails, large thumbtacks, or using a line and clothespins, which we’ll go over later.
Colored Foam Poster Board
Rainbow foam poster board is another item available at craft stores. These are also commonly found in blue and green colours. They won’t be big enough for a person to stand in front of, but they’ll suffice for filming items on a table from above. Any poster board with a glossy surface should be avoided because it will reflect too much light and be difficult to key in post.
I also don’t recommend glueing together multiple pieces of poster board to make a large backdrop because seams will appear where the boards meet. In a pinch, however, you might be able to make it work. It will simply necessitate more post-production work. When you really need to key out smaller areas of a shot, such as a TV or monitor screen, poster board is a great option. Without having to fuss with fabrics, you can easily cut the board to size and position it.
Same colored Walls
If you have a free-standing flat or a spare wall, you can create an easy DIY green screen by painting it green or blue. This is also a viable option for floors, allowing you to build a complete green screen set. The surface of the wall or floor must be smooth and flat, and the paint must have a matte or matte enamel finish. Matte paints don’t reflect light and are difficult to clean.
Matte enamels are glossier and thus more reflective, but they’re also easier to clean and last longer — this is the type of paint you’ll find in bathrooms. Choose bright and light greens and blues when choosing a colour. You can use a plain, solid-color wall as your key background instead of painting it if necessary.
It should ideally be a smooth interior wall that isn’t too close in colour to skin tones. The wall colour doesn’t have to be green or blue; those colours are just the furthest away from skin tones, so they’re ideal for keying in post. Any colour can be used as a key, though some work better than others. Experiment with this, but it’s most likely a last-ditch effort.
DIY Green screen backgrounds & Lighting
I can recommend the best free DIY lighting for green screens if you film outside. This is something I do all the time with a popup green screen mounted on a C-stand. This is extremely efficient. Filming in the middle of the day will provide ample light, and shadows should fall below your subject rather than on the green screen.
If shadows become an issue, you can easily adjust the angles of your background and subject. Also, if it’s a cloudy day, the sunlight will be diffused, reducing shadows even more. If you’re a low-budget filmmaker, I can’t recommend this solution highly enough!
Construction work lights are the most common solution for low-cost lighting. You’ve probably seen something similar before. Usually, they’re two lights mounted on a bright orange stand. I don’t recommend using these lights to light your subject because they’re too harsh. However, they do a good job of lighting up your background. A classic example is these 2,500 watt Woods Twin Head Work Lights.
However, if you do decide to use lights like this, exercise extreme caution. Work lights are made for raw-lighting power, which means they can get very hot and burn you easily. When working with them, make sure to wear heat-resistant gloves. Personally, I don’t believe they’re worthwhile (when compared to the YouTube green screen kits or just filming outside).
Look for LED work lights, such as this Olafus Work Light, as an alternative. They won’t generate as much heat because they use LEDs, and they’ll probably be safer to use.
DIY Mounting and Stands
Wire Nails or Thumb Tacks
If you’re hanging a fabric backdrop on a wall indoors, use wire nails or large thumb tacks to keep the backdrop from causing damage to the wall. These should keep the fabric in place well, and the holes in the wall won’t be noticeable. For a few dollars, you can get a pack of these. To avoid wrinkles, just make sure the fabric is taut.
Clothesline and Clothespins
Using a clothesline and clothespins to hang your backdrop inside or outside is one of the simplest and cheapest methods. Toss the fabric backdrop over the clothesline and secure it with clothespins. To keep the Green screen backgrounds fabric taut and wrinkle-free, hang clothespins or spring clamps from the bottom of the fabric.
3M Hanging Strips
If you’re mounting poster board to a wall, 3M Hanging Strips are ideal. They’re made to hold picture frames in place and can be easily removed from the wall without causing damage. If you’re hanging a fabric backdrop, some even have hooks that you can use instead of nails.
When it comes to hanging things from stands, make do with what you have. (Of course, do so safely.) Coat racks, doors, and door jambs can all be used to hang or drape a background. You can also tie a line between two small trees, fence posts, carport poles, or other objects if you’re outside.