Make (and Use) Your Own Green Screen

Make (and Use) Your Own Green Screen

To the moon, Brian!



> Pencil and paper for sketching your screen and noting dimensions
> PVC pipe (around $20, local hardware store)
> Green fabric, preferably polyester (around $5 at a fabric or craft store)
> Permanent marker
> Hacksaw
> At least 12 inches of adhesive-backed Velcro (around $10)
> Digital video camera
> Final Cut Express ($299, or Final Cut Pro (part of Final Cut Studio 2, $1,299)


If you watch television news, you’ve seen the weather person standing in front of a giant map of your city, displaying the current temperatures and conditions. Of course, there isn’t a huge map plastered behind the meteorologist - he or she is standing in front of a green screen. This solid green (or sometimes blue) surface acts as a blank canvas that can be digitally replaced with whatever a video technician wants, from weather maps to sci-fi battle scenes. Green screens are used in television and film all the time (think The Matrix and 300). With just a few lengths of PVC pipe, some green cloth, and a touch of elbow grease, you too can place a subject into a different setting.


1. Plan Your Screen Size


Decide on what size you’re going to make your green screen. Plan on a small screen (3 feet by 2 feet) if you’re going to work with small objects, and a large one (8 feet by 7 feet) to work with people. We built a medium-size screen (5 feet by 3.3 feet) to allow us to shoot the upper half of a person or two.


Keep in mind that you’re going to place the screen at least a couple of feet behind the objects or people you’re shooting, so compensate by making your screen at least 20 percent larger than your subject area. Our screen structure is 6 feet, 8 inches tall with a 60-by-40-inch green area, just enough to provide a green background behind a standing person’s torso. To bring the screen to the desired height, we planned 40-inch legs and supports to make it tall and steady. In all, we needed two 60-inch lengths of PVC, four 40-inch lengths, four 24-inch pipes for the legs, and connectors to bring them all together. Sketch out your planned screen on a sheet of paper so that you can get the exact materials you need.


Plan your screen with a rough sketch that includes dimensions and also notes pipe connector locations and types.






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Jim Lewis

Cheaper still, buy a couple of green dollar store tablecloths.



Or a Lybian flag.


Geek lover

Great how-to, Brian -- and (blushblushblush) you geeks are sexy (check out Roman sometime, eh).

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