Have you always wondered what those huge green screens in movie sets are used for or asked yourself How to Create a DIY Green Screen at home? DIY green screens are easy to make and there are many different ways to create one at your home.
It is thanks to those giant green screens that we are enjoying watching the many movies on our screens as they provide endless options for filmmakers to discover and exhibit their creativity. Now if you are new to this, let me explain to you first what a green screen is used for and give you a little background and context about it.
The technique of using green screens dates back to the 1900s. It was first introduced in the creation of films by Larry Butler on his film “The Thief of Bagdad” in 1940 which got him to win an academy award for special effects. Since then, more and more filmmakers have been resorting to the use of this technique to create and showcase “magic” into their movies.
How to Create a DIY Green Screen
Now the deal is simple, imagine you are recording yourself with a green screen behind you and that on the post edit, you can edit the green screen to look as the Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco or the Egyptian Pyramids as a background; yes that’s how cool it is! The beauty of it is that you can replace the green backdrop with any special effect you want. You may be wondering if it’s expensive to purchase one but for me it is better to make your own green screen at home since that way you can customize it based on the location you are going to be using it in. Moreover, you can learn how to make a DIY a green screen and sell it to your fellow filmmaker friends.
There are different types of green screens that you can make and we will explore together how to create various ones at home. These are green screens that don’t require having neither a big budget nor complicated equipment to create.
The YouTube Green Screen Kit:
The YouTube kit is a very useful one for content creators on YouTube. There’s nothing magical about making it once you follow and respect the rules. The first thing you will need to have is a bright green color muslin cloth to hang behind you as the backdrop and some lighting techniques that I will discuss later in this article.
Pop up Green Screen
The pop up green screen is a portable item that you can transport with you wherever you go. It is perfect for people who are always traveling and on the move so they can keep the same look on their videos. It basically gives you the option to create your studio wherever you go thanks to its simplicity and practicality.
Steps to DIY a Green Screen
Step #1: make your own green screen background
Obviously, the first thing you will need to have is a piece of green fabric. You can get it at the fabric store at an affordable price. First, make sure to get the measurements of the place where you will use it so you get the right size. There are certain things that you will need to keep an eye on when choosing the fabric.
First, the type of material. It’s better to avoid shiny types of fabric like polyester satins as they create hot spots because they reflect light. Instead, get a fabric that is less likely to get wrinkles as they are the enemy of getting a smooth background during the post editing. Having this in mind, it’s very important to get rid of wrinkles by ironing the fabric before using it and also being careful when folding it back. The process might seem complicated and tiring, but it doesn’t take more than 10min to set up once you get used to it.
Painted wood or cardboard:
Another technique that you can rely on as an alternative is using a large piece of wood or cardboard painted in green. This option is very cheap and practical too. The great advantage of using this method is that it provides you with a solid wrinkle-free surface so you don’t have to worry about getting those weird spots on your video. The downside is it’s difficult to move easily from one spot to another, but that would not be a problem if you always make videos at your garage or your room. https://bit.ly/2VeR1O0
This is another cheap option to create your green screen set up at home. If it happens that you have a free space with a wall that you can paint in green, well that’s great! I personally prefer this option because you can also paint the floor in green and now it gives you even wider options to get creative with your videos. However, the surface of the wall and floor must be smooth and flat.
Also, the paint that you are going to use will notably impact the quality of your video. We recommend you choose a green matte or green matte enamel finish paint. The difference is that the matte paint is difficult to clean but won’t reflect any light. On the other hand, the matte enamel is durable and easy to clean but it has a glossy effect and can reflect light if the lights are not properly set up.
Colored foam poster board:
Another great and cheap item that you find in the market and that you can use as a backdrop is the colored foam poster board. The only issue with this option is that you can’t get them in big sizes, so it won’t be possible to fit a whole person on the shot. However you can use them if you are filming from above items placed on a table. This is great for people who make DIY videos of hand crafts. It might not be a good idea to create a large poster board from many small ones as you will have seams between them which might show on the edited background but if you have some extra editing skills, you can make those disappear easily.
Step #2: Set your camera
The next step is to pick a camera that shoots 720p or higher. You can use a DSLR camera, a camcorder or just your phone. The idea of shooting with your phone might not seem very convincing to you but with the proper lighting, which we will discuss on the next step, your video quality will improve.
Step #3: Set your lighting
One of the most important elements of creating high quality videos is mastering the skill and techniques of lighting. Lighting your green screen with the proper amount of light and the right way is what will step up your game in content creation. You might think that your room bulb light will be enough but believe me, that’s not a good idea. You don’t want to shoot a whole video to discover later that all you needed to do is to set up the lights.
–Natural light: If you are on a really tight budget, the best light that you can use is natural sunlight. It’s effective and for free! I recommend you shoot during midday as this will provide enough light and shadows should not fall on the green screen but below your subject. However, there is a downside to this which is that natural light is never stable. The sun is moving, therefore your shadow will not stay at the same spot during your video, unless you’re recording a short video. The weather might also get cloudy and change every minute so the white balance will change which will make your video look weird and unprofessional.
–Set up Work light: If you are opting for this second option, bear in mind that you will have to spend some extra dollars however, the results will be much better. We can’t stress more on the importance of lighting on your green screen because it’s a huge factor to the success of your video. The advantage of using spotlights is not having to worry about shadows due to light changes when relying on natural light. Here you have everything under your control which can give you the comfort and confidence during your content creation process. If you are using a spotlight, this might not be enough to get the job done as the light will be harsh and will target only a small area of the green screen. What you want and should have is a soft diffused light that covers all the green screen without having any shadows on it. Just make sure that the light is even on the whole surface so that you don’t have dark areas and bright areas. To make this happen you can either use a softbox or a soft light diffuser. Now let’s see how to position yourself, the lights and the camera. You will need at least three light sources of which 2 are directed towards the green screen and one directed towards the subject. The distance between the subject and the green screen must be around 3 to 5 feet away while the distance between the subject and the camera should be about 5ft away. Make sure to use the same type of light on both sides of the green screen with the same light power and temperature.
Step #4: How to mount your green screen?
Using a green screen made of fabric can be quite difficult since you have to make sure that there are no wrinkles that will create shadow spots on it. However, to avoid that you can mount your green screen on a professional backdrop stand designed to hold the cloth backdrop or use two c-stands with an interlocked crossbar. Last but not least, you will need some tape and some spring clamps to secure and hold that green screen tight in order to avoid getting any wrinkles on it.
Step #4: Wear proper clothes
Now as you have everything set up into place all you have to do is make sure you’re not wearing any green clothes as the editing software will remove the green background including the green parts of your outfit, unless you are going for a horror/funny scene where the subject is acting like they lost a body part. Believe me, you will get really creative with those kinds of scenes over time. If you want the subject to look very clear, it is better to choose an outfit that is in contrast with the green backdrop.
-Keep the green screen flat and wrinkle-free so you can remove the whole green background during the post edit.
-Use as much light as possible. As we have seen, you will need at least 3 spotlights with soft boxes mounted on them. Two of these lights should be directed towards the green screen and make sure that every part of it is well lit, and the other one should be used for your main subject. If you have an additional light sitting in your studio, use it too.
-Don’t worry about getting only the green screen on your frame while shooting the video. You can always crop the unnecessary parts of the video your subject isn’t in. This will save you lots of time and effort.
-If your camera can shoot 4k then take advantage of that. But why? 4k will give you enough options to zoom in on your subject in post without losing video sharpness and quality.
-If you have a wide aperture lens that blurs the background, it will work better than the other lenses that do not have this feature. This will be more helpful if you have dark and bright spots on your green screen as it will distort them and editing will be much easier.
And that’s it! That’s all you need to know about how to DIY a green screen and I hope we shared enough and valuable information and tips with you so you can start your first steps into the journey of using the magic of the green screen.