If you are a film enthusiast, you have surely heard of the term “green screen”. This simple special effect is an indispensable tool in the film and video, and it’s used from the largest cinematic productions to low level marketing that you may see while scrolling social media. From its origins to its current iterations, this technique has enabled content creators to push the boundaries of their productions by easily replacing individual items or entire backdrops in their post-production process. In this article, we will briefly talk about the green screen technique, how it is used in video projects of all scopes, and how a portable green screen can help you leverage this technology from no matter where!
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The History of Green Screen
The green screen technique, also known as chroma key, dates back by several decades. It’s first uses took place in the late 19th century and it has seen non-stop development since then (check out a timeline of chromakeying in cinema here!). These changes included the change from what originally was a blue screen into the green screen we are familiar with in the 1970’s. Why green? Well, the neon green hue used is chromatically the farthest away from human skin, which made it a natural choice for film, cinema, and television.
The uses given to this technique are endless. Weather forecasts on TV have the presenter stand in front of a green screen, which is replaced with the animated weather maps you see on screen. Major Hollywood blockbusters use green screen too. With the revolution and democratization of technology, now anyone can use green screen at home – all it takes is footage with a green-screen element that you want to replace during post-production using your favorite video editing software.
The Benefits of Using Green Screen in your Productions
Whether you are shooting a film, a documentary, an advertising, and no matter the budget and scope of your project, a green screen will almost always result in reduced production costs and hours of saved time. You can dedicate all the saved time and resources to bring your project to the next level during post-production, which will result in a project that looks impressive an expensive without having broken the bank on your end. Here is a list of some of the benefits of opting for a green screen:
Save time and money: Using a green screen in your video projects and productions saves time and money by avoiding the need to build expensive and elaborate physical sets. It also makes it easier to work with actors and extras, since it is not necessary to move them to different locations.
Greater creative control: Green screen gives you total control over the visual elements of a scene. This makes it possible to create scenarios and environments that would otherwise be impossible or extremely costly to achieve.
Simplified post-production: Thanks to green screen, it is possible to make changes to the background or add visual effects in post-production without having to re-record a scene. This simplifies the process and provides greater flexibility to adjust and refine the final product.
The Rise of portable green screens
The democratization of technology in the past decades means that high quality cameras, powerful post-production software, and special effects are no longer reserved for big budget Hollywood productions. This is one of the reasons why portable green screens have become increasingly popular. Portable green screens are what their name says: a green screen backdrop that can be easily transported and mounted according to the needs of a production, allowing content creators to take their studio wherever they need to go. Using a portable green screen will offer you several advantages, including:
Ease of use: Portable green screens are often easy to set up and take down, making them easy to use in different locations and situations.
Versatility: Portable green screens can be used both indoors and outdoors, allowing filmmakers and advertisers to adapt to the needs of their projects.
Cost-effectiveness: Portable green screens are affordable, making them a more accessible option for small and medium-sized productions.
The uses for these portable green screens are nearly infinite. Not only does chromakeying allow you to change a backgrounds for scenes, but it can also help you remove an object or part of a set you don’t want to. We recommend you check the video below for several ideas of all sort of special effects you can try with a portable green screen:
A couple points before moving forward:
Is it better to buy a portable green screen on Amazon or in a specialty site?
It really depends on your needs. You can buy a portable screen on Amazon that does the trick perfectly for your intended purpose. If you are just getting started with chromakeying, or are just looking for something to use at home, buying a green screen on Amazon is a great option (even if it may not be the sturdiest or best quality portable green screen). If you are more advanced or need something more special (i.e. a larger size, an infinity screen format, a size and format where you need it in blue vs. green screen), then a speciality video production retailer or website will be best).
How to fold portable green screen
As their name implies, portable green screens are meant to be easily wrapped and transported from place to place. Each model has their own way of being folded for storage or transporting, but either they fold into the top supporting tube (much like those old-school projector screens that we had in classrooms), or they fold into themselves to be neatly tucked away into their carrier. Depending on the size, some portable green screens will fold into the size of a briefcase, but larger ones require methods to fold the portable green screen that will still make them a larger prop to carry around with the aid of a vehicle.
Our Favorite Portable Green Screens:
Here’s a selection of our favorite portable green screens. They are affordable, high quality, and will get you replicating this technique at home and outdoors in no time!
Some factors that we considered when compiling this list, but that you should also take into account based on your needs are the following: Price/Quality Ratio, Shape and Size, and Intended Use. We are starting the list with the more affordable options, which also mean that they will have limited uses in terms of portability and sturdiness and may be more geared towards beginner or at-home use. Towards the end we are showing the more high-end options for professionals who need equipment that can stand heavy use and wear and tear. Please note that prices are based on current US prices and are subject to change depending on your location and current retailer offers.
A very affordable entry level portable green screen. This simple model is ideal for anyone in need of a portable chroma key solution for video production, streaming, or photography. This 5×7 feet green screen is made of high-quality polyester material that will provide a reliable and wrinkle-free background for professional results. The collapsible, spring-steel frame allows for easy setup and takedown, making it perfect for on-the-go content creators (however, given the price point, we do recommend it for indoor use only as it likely is not sturdy enough for outdoor shoots with weather elements and strong winds). It’s perfect if you have just gotten started with video and want to practice background replacement and visual effects.
We are genuinely impressed with the versatility and convenience of this second entry-level entry in our list. This compact backdrop features chroma blue on one side and chroma green on the other (read more about when to use green vs. blue backgrounds for chromakeying). Its size is perfect for a home studio – be it to photograph small to medium sized items or a person from the torso up. It is also easily foldable for transportation or storage (carrying bag is included)! The adjustable metal stand can be set at different heights and the material will ensure that there are no folds or creases in the backdrop, so you won’t have issues in post-production.
The Westcott X-Drop Portable Green Screen Kit delivers in every aspect, providing a high-quality green screen that’s both lightweight and cost-effective. The 5×7 feet screen is ideal for medium-sized objects and subjects – and the steel frame is sturdy enough to be used indoors and outdoors. If you are afraid that outdoors will make the backdrop screen dirty, the material is fully washable (in cold water)! It is a great mid-range option if you don’t want to limit yourself by screen size and indoor-only usability.
This affordable portable green screen is ideal for content creators and professionals alike, especially to create a green screen backdrop in an indoor space (although it can be used outdoors too). Its shape ensures versatility for shots, as it can be used for anything from headshots to a vertical full-body shoot to even an infinity green screen backdrop. As expected, the collapsible design makes it incredibly easy to set up and transport. At 8×16 feet, this portable green screen provides ample coverage for various shooting scenarios. Very importantly, the high-quality, wrinkle-resistant fabric ensures minimal post-production efforts in editing out creases or shadows. Moreover, the durable frame is built to last and withstand frequent use.
The Atrix portable green screen with tripod stand is a beloved choice among gamers (no wonder that it is a GameStop exclusive!). The Atrix portable green screen with tripod stand is an incredibly versatile Green Screen backdrop tailored for streamers, podcasters, and entertainers who want to turn their at-home studio into amazing backgrounds for their content. It uses top-tier anti-wrinkle fabric and a robust frame, which ensures a seamless backdrop for enhanced chromakeying quality. It has an adjustable height and dual landscape/portrait orientation modes. Setting up and packing down is a breeze, making it incredibly portable. To boot, it comes with a sturdy carrying case for secure storage and effortless travel!
We end this list with this truly pro portable green screen. We use the word “portable” lightly as it a truly large screen perfect for replacing the background of entire scenes or blocking large elements in post production. It can be used for video shooting as well as for photography where large props or groups or people are involved. The sturdy and collapsible aluminum frame will make sure that your background is fixed in your shoots and won’t bend or break. One of the neatest features it how simply it collapses and folds into an included carry bag. If you have a large home-studio, rent spaces to shoot which you need to quickly transform into a studio with a green screen, or do a lot of outdoor shoots, this is the portable green screen for you!
No matter if amateur or advanced, selecting the ideal portable green screen is crucial for photographers and videographers looking to enhance the quality and versatility of their work. Our five recommendations in this article offer a range of options to cater to your specific needs, whether it’s for professional shoots or personal projects, the nature of your projects, and your budget. Don’t forget to also take into account factors such as size, ease of use, and durability. With the right backdrop in your toolkit, you can unlock endless possibilities for your audiovisual projects.
If you are interested in video production and editing, why not check out our gallery of b roll video, which is ideal for all your editing projects?
To wrap things up, here are some frequently asked questions about portable green screens:
Are cheap green screens worth it?
Portable green screens come in all price ranges. Some are very cheap, some are expensive and reserved for big-budget projects. If you are asking yourself if a cheap green screen is worth it, the only answer is: it depends on your intended use. If you plan to use it as a backdrop at home for your YouTube or TikTok videos, a cheap model will do the trick (as long as the fabric stays stretched to avoid any wrinkling that can cause trouble in post-production). Now, if you need a very dependable green screen that you can take out on outdoor shoots or for large-scale productions, you will want to invest in a portable green screen with a case, a sturdy frame, and thick, durable, and washable fabric.
What can I use instead of a green screen?
A green screen is really just a background for a technique called chromakeying. Basically you record against a high-contrast background (green or blue), which you will then replace by any other background during the post-production process. In this sense, you can literally use a well-stretched piece of neon green or neon blue fabric as a background to achieve the same effect. While this is a neat little experiment, we do recommend an actual green screen for any serious project where you don’t want to compromise quality.
Do green screens really work?
Green screens work great and are used in the fanciest of Hollywood productions – if done right. If your illumination is off, if your green screen does not cover the whole background of your shoot, or if there are wrinkles or discolouration on the fabric, you will not achieve the desired effect.
Are blue screens better than green screens?
Green screens and blue screens seem to be interchangeably used for chromakeying. Actually, if you are shooting outside or in a very well-lit space, you will want to go for a green screen, as it has more luminosity and will therefore work best for the desired effect. A blue screen is works just as well for scenes where you do not have or need so much light.