If you like making your own videos and want to add a professional or custom background, or if you want to add some cool special effects to your latest artistic film project, you can use the same technique film-makers and newsrooms have been using for decades! Without blowing your entire budget for your project, you can easily and quickly create your own green screen for home video projects!
Choose a Color
While the traditional “green screen” is actually green, you can create your green screen to be almost any color you want it to be. You’ll want to choose a shade that’s not too dark but not too light – somewhere on the lighter side of the middle is usually best. And you need a shade that you’re not likely to be wearing or that’s a part of your facial features. This usually rules out red, yellow, and brown.
Fabric or Paint?
Most traditional green screens are created using a specific fabric stretched along a frame. You can create a frame at home using PVC or pipes, but it can be challenging to get the fabric stretched correctly and to ensure that the lighting is correct. Draped fabric doesn’t work well for a green screen, as the variations in shade and tone can prevent the computer from reading the color correctly. If you’re going to be using the same spot to record, you may want to consider using paint for a green screen.
If you’re fortunate enough to have your own home-based recording studio, you can generally just paint the wall with your green screen color. Chromakey Green paint by Tube Tape has the precise shade and finish of green that most professional green screens use. If you’re using another color, look for a matte finish. If your walls are textured, you’ll need to remove the texture from the walls before painting.
If you live in an apartment or you want a painted backdrop that’s portable, you can find a large sheet of plywood or MDF at your local home improvements store. For invisible hanging, you can install picture hanging wire on the back of your plywood. A thin sheet of MDF may be able to hang to a specific spot with 3M fasteners, but it’s more likely to break if it’s moved regularly.
A frame for your fabric can be easily created using PVC tubing or metal pipes, along with plumbing fasteners. Measure the height and width you need, and use those measurements to have your pipes cut to the appropriate length. The bottom piece can be attached with T-joints, and the top bar can be attached with elbow joints. You’ll probably also need to make a base with additional pipe and T-joints. The fabric should be cut to size with reinforced metal grommets at regular intervals about 1/2 inch from the edge of the fabric. You’ll attach the fabric to the frame using clothesline, parachute cord, or even elasticized bungee cords.
A thin fabric may present problems for a green screen. If the lighting on the front of the fabric is too bright, the fabric may reveal shadows and other items hidden behind the screen. This can be minimized by creating a double layer of fabric or by using a thicker and heavier fabric. Depending on how you secure the frame and the fabric, this design may be able to be easily disassembled and transported if you need a portable green screen.