Improve your green screen

all the info and tools you need to create great green screen videos

Table of Contents

Which is the Best Green Screen Background?

In my green screen background comparison video on youtube, I compared four different backgrounds for different room sizes and budgets.

Which should you choose? Cloth/fabric, background systems like the westcott x-drop, paper rolls, or green screen paint?

I show you all the pros and cons of each option by using them live and also give you my side by side test results.

Below you see the tools that I used. The links are affiliate links. Purchasing from them will help me maintain this website and produce more Youtube videos.

Green Screen Backgrounds

Cheap Green Screen Cloth Kits

Not the best option, but rather affordable. If you get a set with different background colours, you can use the fabric of the other colours to improve the sound in your studio. I talk about that in my second video blow.

DON’T get a kit complete with lights unless your budget is extremely tight. The light of these kits is very weak and won’t give you the control you need for great results.

Scroll down for lighting recommendations.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3m8n4jG

B&H: https://bhpho.to/41mHh5O

 
Cheap Green Screen Cloth
The cloth I bought is from Amazon Europe (https://amzn.to/41i6vSG), it is not available everywhere, but all the cheap ones are similar.
B&H doesn’t have an extremely cheap cloth, the cheapest one they have is from Neewer, but it is of higher quality: https://bhpho.to/3knu388
 
 

Westcott X-Drop KIT (5′ x 7′)

The X-Drop kit is a fabulous green screen background. The downside is that the stand wastes a lot of space, which is not ideal for small rooms. If you don’t have a lot of space available, have a look at the fabric only below.
 
 

Westcott X-Drop CLOTH ONLY (5′ x 7′)

My preferred green screen background for a small office environment. You can easily hang it on your wall. Drill some hooks into your wall and use the built-in eyelet patches to hang it.

B&H: https://bhpho.to/3XUbpT0

 

Westcott X-Drop Pro KIT (8′ x 13′)

This kit is larger than the one above and comes with a sweep. So it is better if you want to move around in your frame. Other than that it has the same downsides as the smaller one above.
 

Westcott X-Drop Pro CLOTH ONLY (8′ x 13′)

Same as the one above, just bigger and with a sweep.

Background Paper

Background paper is the preferred option for full body green screen shots. They come in various sizes. This is the most popular size and also the one I used in the video.
 

Green Screen Paint

My paint is from Amazon Germany (https://amzn.to/3EwwkEI), but dedicated green screen paint always looks and works identical, as long as it is not reflective (acryl) so here are international links:
Amazon: https://amzn.to/41jROi1
 
 

Green Screen Mounts, Stands, Hooks and Drives

Tarp Clips

Probably the most affordable and at the same time very effective is mounting green screen fabric on the wall.
Tarp clips are the best and cheapest option. Just drill some hooks into your wall and use the tarp clip to stretch the fabric. When you don’t need the green screen, use the hooks to hang some pictures on your wall.
NOTE: it requires quite a few mounting points to stretch the fabric without getting wrinkles.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3kos3wi

 

Stands

If you want to use the drives for paper, make sure you get a solid set like this one. Don’t go ultra cheap. If you only use it for fabric, you could go cheaper. But then I’d recommend getting a complete fabric set including the stands (see above).
 
 
Clamps

To stretch green screen fabric on stands, clamps are a must. I recommend going to your hardware store and get some, but if you want to order online, these should work well.
All together you need at least eight clamps. Go for an opening of around 1,5 inch.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ZfV4ZV

 

Single Hooks for Paper Roll

A convenient and space saving alternative is mounting background paper on the wall. These are the hooks I use. They are from Manfrotto. But there are other cheaper alternatives out there.
When mounting on the wall, you’ll also need an Auto Drive Set like listed below
 
 

Triple Hooks for Paper Roll

When you consider triple hooks, keep in mind that they take up quite a bit of height, so might not be perfect for rooms with a low ceiling. If you want to maximise the height of your green screen, you can only use the highest hook and have to remove the two rolls below. But three hooks are great for storing.
These are the hooks I use. They are from Manfrotto. But there are other cheaper alternatives out there.
 
 
Auto Drive Set

For paper background I strongly recommend an auto drive set. It unrolls the paper perfectly and helps store it without damage. When you mount the paper on the wall or on autopoles the drive set is mandatory.

I’d recommend getting a metal chain because the plastic ones reportedly break.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3SvC3Rc

B&H: https://bhpho.to/3ZgvaFt

 

Autopoles

Autopoles are great, particularly for smaller rooms and also for keeping your space free from stands to not fall over. The downside is: they need a sturdy ceiling. Don’t use them with a styrofoam ceiling. The ones I use are from Manfrotto, but there are cheaper alternatives out there.
 
 
Super Clamps

To mount the background on auto poles, you need these clamps. That’s where the hooks below are mounted on.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ZgzOTH

B&H: https://bhpho.to/3ZiuM9x

 
Hooks for Super Clamp

If you use auto-poles and super clamps, these hooks mount onto the super clamp, and then you hang the auto drive set above on the hook.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3lYkg8R

B&H: https://bhpho.to/3YTCXcl

 

 

Which is the Best Green Screen Lighting?

Green screen lighting depends a lot on the room size and on your budget. This very detailed video about the best green screen lighting covers everything you need to know. From the very basics to some secret tips that I learned through a lot of experimenting.

I could explain it in a long winded text, but it’s better to watch a video where you clearly see the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Recommended Green Screen Lighting

Nanlite PavoTubes (I and II)

The incredible small footprint of these lights make them perfect for small rooms.
They are available in different lengths. I’d recommend the 30″ version.
Being battery powered, having several effects and the ability to control them with an app via Bluetooth (out of the box only the II version) adds to the flexibility of the PavoTubes.
The version two is a bit more expensive, but has some advantages over the first version. So I’d recommend that.

The link below will lead you to a set of two Pavo Tube 30 II, which I’d highly recommend.

B&H: https://bhpho.to/3m3w89O

 
Nanlite FS-150

This monolight is not only perfect as a background and a rim light. It is pretty affordable, while still high quality and powerful enough (150W) to give you a beautiful bright background.
It is almost silent and offers Bluetooth to control it with an app. That makes the FS-150 not only great for green screen use.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3YXRaF9

B&H: https://bhpho.to/3ExdJZc

 
Nanlite Forza 60C RGB

In case you have some budget left, you could get this light for a rim light. The big advantage vs the FS-150 is that it is an RGB light. So you can get any colour you wish, which helps a lot when you want to blend your green screen clip perfectly into the background. To seen an example for that technique, check the above video.

B&H: https://bhpho.to/3KAFc08

 
Barn Doors
These doors help block the light from spreading in all directions. For example when you light the background separately with a monolight like the above and want to avoid spill on your subject like I did in my video above.

B&H: https://bhpho.to/3klWS4W

 

White Diffusion Gel Filter
This filter will diffuse the light when you light the background separately with a monolight and a standard reflector like the one above on the Nanlite FS-150.
To light the green screen in my video, I used two layers of the sheet that you can easily cut out of this bigger sheet.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ZgKNwG

B&H: https://bhpho.to/3EyZX8x

 

What are the Best Green Screen Camera Settings?

  1. To improve the evenness of your background, film with either an APS-C sized sensor or set your full frame camera to APS-C.
    BUT: use a full frame lens.
    That will give you the least amount of vignetting and therefore a more even background.
  2. Don’t forget to enable lens correction in your camera. That will further improve the shading/vignetting in the corners.
  3. Don’t shoot your lenses wide open (lowest f-number). That would also create substantial vignetting.
    f/5.6 is a great compromise (even though that is the lowest setting on cheaper lenses)
  4. For shutter speed, choose 1/100sec or 1/125sec depending on whether you live in Europe or USA (for more info, check Wikipedia for PAL vs NTSC).
  5. Enable audio signals. While you may turn off your audio signals for regular filming, I recommend to turn it on for green screen work if you film yourself. That way you can make sure that the camera really records. Trust me – I’ve been there and had to reshoot a few scenes just because the camera didn’t record.

The video Best Green Screen Camera Settings explains all the specific camera settings and shows examples why the specific settings work best.

Green Screen Camera and Lens Recommendations

Sony a7IV

While not cheap, this camera is probably the best bang for the buck when it comes to filming green screen.
Great low light performance (you probably need an ISO of at least 800 to film your green screen) and awesome face detection for perfect focus while walking around in the frame.
Another plus is the tiltable display which is great to have control over the framing when you film yourself.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ZyNwSn

B&H: https://bhpho.to/3KDr7Pz

 
Sony a7III

Almost as good as its successor the above Sony a7IV, the a7III has a slightly slower focus, and in my experience less accurate face detection for this kind of shooting.
It also lacks the tiltable display, which isn’t a deal breaker though.

The big advantage is the price.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3xO30pu

B&H: https://bhpho.to/3SpnbDD

 
Sony FE 24-105mm f/4 G OSS

Relatively affordable with very good performance and a big range of focal lengths. That way you can get closer and wider shots with ease and still keep the same aperture.

The f/4 aperture is good enough for green screen work because your target aperture should be around f/5.6.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3SrfJYO

B&H: https://bhpho.to/3Is9wHr

 

Recommended Green Screen Acessories

Sony RMT-P1BT

The little things that make life easier. Particularly if you are filming yourself.

I have tried all sorts of remotes for above Sony cameras. Infrared, Bluetooth, smartphone, wired,… This is the one solution that is really reliable and extremely comfortable.

I also use a third party knock-off from Pholsy that is not nearly as reliable.
It has a red tally light that shows whether the camera is recording or not. Very convenient and highly recommended.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3XZ9Kvr

B&H: https://bhpho.to/3XYaa5k

 
Iloknzi 16″ Teleprompter

A teleprompter can theoretically make your life much easier. But it takes some practice to not look like a deer in headlights.
The Iloknzi Teleprompter is pretty affordable and very big. Theoretically you don’t need one as big as that, but in case you ever consider using two cameras, like I do (for getting close and wide shots for easier and more interesting edits), then this is a great choice. It requires some DIY work though to get two cameras side by side.
Despite its size, it is very well built and pretty lightweight.
I use it with a 10″ iPad.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3XZanoN

 

Green Screen Editing Tips

The best tip I can give you is to use selective keying. Don’t apply the keying effect (e.g. Ultra Key in Premiere Pro) over the complete frame and then raise the sliders of your effect to key out the unevenness in your background.

Instead create multiple instances of the effect  on the clip and use masks to apply each instance to only a part of your frame. For example one for the hair, one for the body and one for the darker corners.

Sounds complicated, but is not only incredibly effective with very clean results, it is also pretty easy and extremely fast.

Have a look at the youtube video green screen editing secrets to learn how to use it.

Green Screen Editing Software

Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro and its built in chroma keyer “Ultra Key” is a fabulous editor, particularly for green screen. Reason being is that it allows for several instances of the keying effect, which lets you key more aggressively in the corners of the frame and very gentle in areas that need more precision, like hair.

Hawaiki Keyer

A specific green screen plugin that offers automatic AI tracking of your subject, a built-in primary and secondary key and lots of other tools to blend your clip perfectly into the chosen background.

It is particularly helpful for full body green screen with lots of movement.

https://hawaiki.co/keyer.html

 

Green Screen FAQ

Yes you can, but bad is pretty relative. With a few editing secrets, like selective green screen keying, you can definitely improve your results a lot. Check the video above about green screen editing secrets to see which tools to choose and how to use them.

It is pretty fast and particularly when you have multiple clips, you can easily copy and paste the settings from one clip to all others.

Takes 30sec all together and your green screen has (almost) Hollywood quality.

The best way to improve keying of the hair is to light the background around the hair as even as possible and avoid shadows on the green screen background.

While editing, you can then separately key the hair region and the rest of the video which will improve your results even further. Have a look at the video above about green screen editing secrets.

The reason for that effect is a too dark green screen. If you light your green screen brighter, that problem will disappear.

Let me give you a tip for metering a green screen background: make sure that when you meter the background alone, you get a reading of -1/3 stops for clips that include a lot of skin. And +1/3 stops for people with blonde or light grey hair.

That will give you the perfect background brightness for the desired use case.

The best way to avoid that is by getting as much distance between your subject and the background.

Another (additional) solution is to add a rim light from the back (ideally from both sides).

If you don’t have enough space, or have already recorded your clips, let me recommend having a look at the plugin Hawaiki keyer from fx factory. It is especially great for dealing with green spill.

2 thoughts on “Improve your green screen videos”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Login to your account

Email *
Password *