What to Buy for a Green Screen Kit (and Where to Buy It)
Here are some helpful tips on finding the right green screen kit — what kind of kit you should buy, what to look for in the kit, and where to buy them.
The green screen has become a necessity for productions of all sizes. When you’re looking to buy a kit for your home or studio, a simple online search will yield an endless number of results trying to sell you a cheap curtain set, complete with stands destined to break on their first use. There are a few things you need to know before you purchase a kit. We’ll cover the must-haves in this article, and for anything else chroma key-related, check out our comprehensive guide to green screen.
The shining star of the kit is the screen itself— the kind of material you choose will have a drastic effect on your ability to effectively chroma key. A material that can stretch, eliminating any wrinkles, is desirable in order to achieve a nice, even lighting across the screen, which is essential in post. Another key factor to consider is a material that’s not too reflective, so that you don’t encounter any hot spots and the screen itself doesn’t reflect back onto your subject.
These backdrops tend to be fragile, unwashable, wrinkle easily, and often reflect too much light back at the subject. For these reasons, I suggest passing on any paper kits.
Muslin is a dense material that will absorb light, sparing you the headaches of unwanted reflected light and color spill. Muslin’s downfall, however, is wrinkles. This can become a recurring nightmare if you have to break down the screen, move it, or store it multiple times throughout its use. It does, however, work well for a permanent installation where you can stretch the fabric, steam out any creases, and then set up for extended periods. When packing or breaking down a cotton green screen, we recommend rolling the fabric instead of folding, so the next time you need it, there won’t be as many wrinkles or creases.
This stretchable, wrinkle-resistant material is quick to set up and performs extremely well when pulled around a frame or stretched between stands. Often, this material can be too reflective, so watch out for any spill when lighting the backdrop. Most of the kits on the market use these types of material — and for good reason — high functionality at a lower price point is a major plus.
Some may argue that you need a specific shade of green for your backdrop, but honestly, as long as nothing in the foreground is close to being the same color as your screen, you should be fine. This is the reason many professionals also use blue, or even red, depending on what’s being filmed. You can chroma-key any color out from a shot; bright green simply tends to be used the least on set, making the task easier.
Green Screen Kits
Now that you know what to look for, which green screen kit is right for you? Here is a breakdown of some of the top options, based on price, size, and convenience.
The Neewer Budget Kit
An extremely popular choice for a green screen kit, Neewer currently boasts a 4.4 star rating with over 751 reviews on Amazon. There are hundreds of other kits that are extremely similar, but this kit rises to the top of the bargain bin at only $190.99. Neewer has become a dominant force for affordable gear that performs well and lasts long, and with good reason. This massive package boasts a 6×9 screen that includes a white and black backdrop, a 8.5×10 stand support system, six clamps, four light stands, two umbrellas, two soft boxes, four daylight bulbs, and bags to carry the kit around.
Personal experience dictates that while the gear might feel cheap, this kit will get the job done. Note that the lights included may be enough to get the desired outcome, but you should really regard them as filler — that is to say, cheap lights that make the entire package seem more appealing, but they’re not professional grade. This muslin seamless is great for beginners (or temporary needs), but it may not be the best option if you’re looking for a permanent solution to stand the test of time. Be sure to secure your stands with this kit so the entire backdrop doesn’t come tumbling down on your subject.
Composite Components Pro Kit
At over double the price of the Neewer screen ($435), with far fewer bells and whistles, this kit from Composite Components also comes with true professional quality. The company touts twenty years of Hollywood partnerships and a résumé that features Life of Pi and The Amazing Spider-Man. The screen is made of a stretchable nylon spandex that features their proprietary chroma green pigment. Composite Components actually creates custom green screen film sets that span hundreds of feet, and the seamless one included in this kit comes from the leftover material from these builds. The kit features a nice backdrop stand and a carrying case, recommended for those who want professional grade material and don’t mind the high costs that come along with it.
LastoLite Panoramic Background Landscape Kit
This panoramic green screen kit from LastoLite features a whopping thirteen-foot spread, split into three easily assembled sections stretched around a solid aluminum frame. This large, solid construction makes it a great choice for scenes featuring multiple actors, large set pieces, or blocking out an entire wall in a studio. The material is cloth-based, with nice, felt-like texture that helps fight any unwanted reflections. This kit is the largest of all the kits mentioned here, but it’s also the most expensive, coming in at over $500. To help cut costs, you can purchase the screen for about $150, then build the frame yourself, much like this YouTuber Emerald Coast TV did with PVC pipes.
Fotodiox Collapsible 5x7ft Portable Backdrop Kit
This kit from Fotodiox sets up quickly, transports easily, and stores with minimal space. If you find yourself working on the fly and often needing a quick chroma key option, then this might be the best option for you. It features a stand that can actually raise the screen up to eight feet in the air. And with a five-foot wingspan, this should be plenty of space to plant a subject anywhere, anytime, to shoot what you need. The wrinkle-resistant background is flexible, is easily operated without the stand, and includes a blue screen on the reverse side, should the need for one arise.
The Draper Silhouette Office Option
Draper Inc. offers some extremely high end (and pricey) green screens of all sizes that you can permanently install onto a wall — and it conveniently retracts into its own housing, replacing the need for stands. This green screen is perfect for those who rely on a green screen on a daily basis, especially for those who need a green screen for streaming video game content. This screen is wrinkle resistant, time efficient, well-made, and extremely durable. It might not be much of a “kit,” but if it fits your needs, it could be the perfect option for saving space and time.
Hopefully, you find the right fit for your production with one of these green screen kits, and be sure to check out any of our helpful articles to assist you with your chroma key adventures.
For more filmmaking tips and advice, check out these related articles.
- How to Key Green Screen Footage in After Effects
- Blue Screen Vs. Green Screen: Which One Do You Need?
- DIY: How to DIY a Green Screen on a Budget
- Everything You Need to Know About Chroma Key and Green Screen Footage
- How to Shoot a Green Screen for Perfect Chroma Keying
Cover image via Rashevskyi Viacheslav.