Green screens are often associated with big budget Hollywood movies. Action, sci-fi, and fantasy films rely heavily on massive green screens to bring these incredible worlds to life. You may not have the budget of Avengers: Endgame at your disposal. But a green screen may be just what you need for your next project. Luckily, you don’t need to spend a fortune. Learning how to make a green screen is a lot easier than most people think. Play your cards right, and you could probably make one for less than $20.


How to make a DIY green screen

Right now you’re probably asking yourself, “How do I make a green screen?” After all, big budget movies have them, so they must be expensive. But a cheap green screen is within your reach. And with a home green screen, you can film all kinds of scenes in your living room without spending an arm and a leg.


DIY green screen with poster board

You can find multi-colored poster board at any craft store (Michaels, JOANN Fabrics & Crafts). You should be able to find poster board in lime or neon green. Blue boards also work but make sure you know the difference between blue screen vs green screen.

How to Make a Homemade Screen for $6  •  iLuvTrading

One poster board may be enough if you’re just filming someone from the neck up. But as the above video shows, you can combine multiple poster boards together to create one large surface you can chroma key later.

If using a poster board, you want to make sure you don’t use one with a glossy surface. The gloss ends up reflecting too much light, and it creates problems later in post.


How to utilize green screen cloth

Fabric stores often have huge rolls of fabric, and you can cut out exactly as much as you want. You should be able to find a basic green or blue one that can serve as the backdrop for your scene. JOANN Fabrics has a green gabardine fabric that works exceptionally well you can check out and learn more about in the video below.

Making a Chroma Key Screen  •  The Slanted Lens

If possible, you should opt for a heavier fabric as it hands better and provides superior coverage. The one thing to remember with fabric is that it can wrinkle. If you plan on transporting the fabric to a certain location, then you may need to iron it later to smooth it out. Everything needs to be even to ensure you can key out the color later.

With fabric, you need a way to hang the material behind the subject. Along with the fabric, you also need to invest in stands as well as thumbtacks, hanging nails, or clothespins to keep it in place. 


DIY green screen with paint

This option isn’t going to work for everyone. But if you have a spare wall available somewhere, then you can paint it green or blue for a simple green screen setup that’s always available.

Just make sure you choose the idea green screen color.

How to Paint a Chroma Key Screen Wall  •  Syn

You just need to make sure you choose a matte or matte enamel finish so that the wall looks flat and smooth. Additionally, matte paints don’t reflect light. The wall you select should be smooth. Any popcorn aesthetic needs to be smoothed out otherwise you’re going to get inconsistent lighting when it actually comes to filming.


How to make a green screen stand

If you plan on using a green sheet or curtain, then you need a stand to keep it taut. You can’t just drape your material over a clothesline and expect an easy time chroma keying later. Depending on how handy you are, you can make an impressive homemade green screen stand. But the easiest (and cheapest) way to make a frame is to follow these steps.

1. Get the right materials

Knowing how to make a chroma key green screen at home means you better get familiar with your local Home Depot or Lowe's. You need the following materials to make a standard frame.

  • PVC pipe
  • (4) ½” 90-degree elbows
  • Saw or PVC pipe cutter

How much PVC pipe do you need? It really comes down to how big you want your frame to be. If you just need a screen to go behind someone’s head because you’re filming a close-up, then a 2” x 2” frame should do the trick.

2. Cut your PVC pipe

You should get 10 feet of PVC pipe if you want a 2” x 2” frame. Technically, you only need 8 feet, but it’s a good idea to have some spare pipe just in case.

In the event you want a bigger frame, then it can be a good idea to reinforce it on the inside with some tee sockets.

3. Affix the PVC pipes together

Using your 90-degree elbows, attach the PVC pipes together at the joints. From there, you can easily slide the cloth over your new frame.

How to Make a Stand for $10  •  The Stumys

You can get creative and make a stand of your very own design. But when you just need something simple to film with, especially if you plan on making YouTube videos, this basic setup works well for a great price.


Other materials and techniques

You may buy something green and think that’s the end of it. But to get the most out of your chroma keying, you’re going to need other materials to make your videos the highest-quality possible.

First and foremost, you need screen lights directed toward the screen to provide an even shading across. Uneven lighting can make it difficult to key out later in editing. While you can opt for some Diva 400s, some basic lights with fluorescent bulbs do the trick when you’re on a budget.

You also need a key light, back light, and fill light. This is to better ensure the subject looks natural against the backdrop you fill in later.

Our blog on green screen lighting provides a better overview of how you should light a these scenes.

You may require green gaffer’s tape to affix poster boards or fabric together. And a green screen suit can make for some pretty cool effects.

5 Simple VFX  •  Studio 2 Magic

Whether you have thousands of dollars in your budget or less than $100, you can make a professional-looking video. You just need to get creative. But since you’re a filmmaker, that shouldn’t be a problem!


Buying a chroma key kit

The above methods should only cost you about $10 to $20. But if you have a little extra cash to spend, then you could consider buying a full-fledged kit. It’s a great way to get everything you need, especially if you’re concerned about altering fabric or poster boards.

Best Kits of 2019  •  TheTechMag

This video gives you four great options. They all cost over $100 though. But in addition to getting your green screen, some kits come with lights and stands, which you need as well to bring your project to life.

Before buying any green screen kit, you should have a good idea of what you want to film. Some green screens you buy are smaller, making them great for YouTube channels where it’s just a person talking to the camera. Others need a full-on green screen rig to film scenes with several people.

If you have the money, then it can be good to invest in a professional setup. Even if you make your own green screen, there’s still the matter of everything else you need to make it as easy as possible to edit the green screen out later.


How to use a green screen like a pro

Green screens can make any amateur production into a professional-looking one. But that’s only if you know what you’re doing. You don’t need any special training to do chroma key compositing. With our handy instructions, you’ll be wanting to find every excuse to use your green screen as often as possible.

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  • Mike Bedard is a graduate of UCLA. He’s a screenwriter based out of Los Angeles who’s written several short films as well as sketch comedy for various theaters around LA. He’s also written articles for sites like Cracked and Ranker.

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