With a green screen and a virtual background, you can stream from anywhere you want and never have to worry about your viewers seeing your messy bedroom or discovering that you broadcast from a storage area. In this buying guide, we provide some basic info about green screens, why you might need one and how to choose the best green screen for your streams. We also picked our favorite green screen backgrounds.
Why do you need a green screen for streaming?
A green screen lets you create virtual backgrounds or add special effects to your stream. Using chroma keying, you can key out the color of the screen, making your background “disappear.” Then, you can use live streaming software or webcam software to add a virtual background.
To use chroma key, your screen does not have to be green. Chroma keying involves keying out everything of a certain color that appears on the screen. If you had a light brown screen, for example, chroma keying might make your hair disappear right along with the background! Green is used most often because it doesn’t match most hair colors and skin tones.
Streamers add virtual backgrounds to their broadcasts to make their streams look more professional. Some use cases for green screens include:
- Gamers who want the “sitting inside the game” effect
- Streams or tutorials that require full-screen screencasting
- An amusing background to have fun with the audience
- Maintaining consistency if you frequently stream from different physical locations
- Display branding or calls to action (CTAs) in the background
For more info about how to use a green screen during a live broadcast, read our guide to chroma keying for live streams.
How do you choose a green screen?
Although green screens are relatively inexpensive, don’t just purchase the cheapest one you can find. You’ll want to take some other considerations into account.
- Size: The proper size for your green screen depends on your camera. First, you need to decide how far away the camera will be from you and your background. Obviously, the farther away you place it, the more of the green screen you can see. The camera’s angle of view also helps you determine the right size for a green screen.
- Material: Green screens should not be reflective. Muslin is a good choice because it’s a dull fabric and easy to clean. It can be difficult to store or take with you, though, as muslin will show wrinkles and creases over time. Spandex and nylon are good choices because they stretch and don’t wrinkle. But they tend to reflect more light than muslin.
- Stand: You will need a stand for your screen — or you can purchase a screen that mounts on your desk chair. The stand should be sturdy enough that it keeps your green screen stretched tightly, allowing no wrinkles whatsoever. Some green screens are sold with a stand included; others are not.
- Portability: If you plan to put your screen away when you’re not using it, you’ll need a screen that stores easily. Some screens are sold with carrying bags and some are designed to fold up for better storage.
- Price: You can find a green screen for about $50, although some may cost much more or much less. Remember that a higher price doesn’t always mean better quality. Choose a green screen that suits your streaming needs and judge it based on the above criteria.
Best green screens for streaming
Any of these seven background screens would be ideal for streamers of all levels, although some are more expensive than others. A few are more suited to photographers, but they still work well for live content creators.
1. Elgato Collapsible Chroma Key Panel
If you want a big green screen you can easily store, the Elgato Collapsible Chroma Key Panel is a safe choice. You can lock it into place with the X-frame and adjust it to suit your setup. Plus it’s wrinkle-resistant. When you’re done streaming, slide it back into its case and store it for later.
- Dimensions: 58.27 x 70.87 in / 148 x 180 cm
- Weight: 20.5 lbs / 9.3 kg
- Material: 100% polyester
- Extremely portable
- Easy to set up
- Non-reflective, wrinkle-resistant material
- Built-in X-frame
- A bit heavy
- The clips to close the case tend to be flimsy
2. EMART Green Screen
For a green screen with ultimate portability and setup ease, try the EMART Green Screen. The carrying case doubles as a stand, with legs that swivel out to support it. You simply open it and drag it up into position, locking it in place at any height you want. Setup doesn’t get much faster than that. The EMART screen uses high-quality materials, and the price reflects it.
- Dimensions: 61.02 x 72.44 in / 154.99 x 184 cm
- Weight: 19.6 lbs / 8.89 kg
- Material: Muslin
- Quick setup
- Non-reflective material
- Designed for streamers and content creators
3. Webaround Big Shot Office Chair Green Screen
For gamers or streamers who mostly sit in front of their cameras, the Webaround Big Shot Office Chair Green Screen is a quirky solution. The screen is a large disc that slides over the back of your desk chair, forming a giant green halo behind you when you sit down. It also comes in other colors and various sizes to fit your background needs. The Webaround screen is collapsible and fits in a nifty carrying bag.
- Dimensions: 56 in / 142.24 cm (diameter)
- Weight: 1.8 lbs / 816 g
- Material: Polyester
- Portable and lightweight
- Good for streamers with small studios or limited space
- Material stays taut
- The green screen moves if you move
- Only covers your immediate background
4. Neewer Chromakey Double-Sided Backdrop
If you want a flexible color option for your screen, the Neewer Chromakey Double-Sided Backdrop is a great pick. One side is green; the other is blue. It’s collapsible as well, folding up into a disc you can store easily or carry with you. You will need to get a stand to hang it on.
- Dimensions (extended): 5 x 6.6 ft / 150 x 200 cm
- Dimensions (collapsed): 24.8 in / 63 cm (diameter)
- Weight: 17.31 oz / 490.73 g
- Material: Muslin
- Durable metal frame
- Stretched tightly over frame for no wrinkles
- Collapsible and comes with carrying bag
- Stand sold separately
- Folding it back up can be tricky
5. LimoStudio Green Backdrop
The LimoStudio Green Muslin Backdrop is one of the most inexpensive on this list, so if you’re on a budget, it’s worth a look. It doesn’t come with a stand or frame, however. The LimoStudio screen has a pre-stitched loop, so you can slide it onto a rod. It does come with clips, so you can clip it up when needed as well.
- Dimensions: 6 x 9 ft / 182.88 x 274.32 cm
- Weight: 1.25 lbs / 0.57 kg
- Material: Polyester
- Machine washable and ironable
- Available in a larger size if needed
- Not wrinkle-resistant and requires a lot of ironing/steaming
- No stand included
6. Neewer Green Screen Kit
The Neewer Green Screen Kit is a good investment if you don’t have any lighting or photography equipment already. It comes with two green screens in different sizes, a light stand, light holder, CFL daylight bulb, white umbrella, a 24 x 24 in softbox, backdrop clamps, background stand and carrying bags. It’s a good value considering everything that comes in the kit, plus it’s extremely portable.
- Dimensions: 8.5 x 10 ft / 260 x 300 cm and 6 x 9 ft / 180 x 280 cm
- Material: Muslin
- Easy to transport
- Green screen can be ironed
- Good value for the money
- No setup instructions included
- Equipment could be sturdier
7. Fancierstudio Green Screen Muslin Background
For a green screen that extends to and covers the floor, try the Fancierstudio Green Screen Background. It’s a good deal for the price, as it also comes with a stand to hang it from and a carrying case for portability. The screen is nine feet long, and you can adjust it to the length you need. If you require a bigger screen, you can try the Fancierstudio Chromakey Green Screen Kit, which includes a 10- by 12-foot green screen along with umbrella lights.
- Dimensions (minimum): 3.5 x 4.5 ft / 106.68 x 137.16 cm
- Dimensions (maximum): 6 x 9 ft / 182.88 x 274.32 cm
- Weight: 11.3 lbs / 5.13 kg
- Material: Muslin
- Adjustable and covers the floor
- Comes with frame and carrying case
- Not wrinkle-resistant
- Screen doesn’t always stay steady
Tips for streaming with a green screen
To use a green screen for a live broadcast, you’ll need to set up your scene and then ready the chroma key in your streaming software.
Here are a few tips for setting up your studio with a green screen:
- Always get a bigger screen than you think you need
- Use plenty of lights so there are no shadows on your green screen
- Make sure your PC is powerful enough to handle live streaming AND chroma keying at the same time
- Put the screen far enough behind you that you don’t cast shadows on it
- Set up your screen, lights and camera and run a test before going live
- Avoid wearing anything green or reflective in front of the screen
What is the best type of green screen material?
Look for materials that won’t reflect light. Muslin is a popular choice, although it is prone to wrinkling. Spandex and nylon are also good options, as long as they aren’t shiny.
What is the best size for a green screen?
This really depends on your setup! If you always stream directly in front of your camera, you might be able to get away with a smaller size. If you have a wide-angle lens or tend to place yourself farther from the camera, you’ll want to size up. If in doubt, always go one size bigger than you think you’ll need.
Is it worth buying a green screen?
A green screen is a relatively cheap investment that can make a big difference in the quality of your live streams. It’s possible to get by without one, but we think it’s worth owning one because of all the possibilities it opens up.
What should I wear in front of a green screen?
Don’t wear green! Otherwise your software will make your body disappear right along with your background and you’ll end up with the dreaded “floating head” effect. It’s also a good idea to avoid wearing anything reflective or shiny because it might pick up green tones.
Let’s wrap up
Choosing the right green screen is about finding the best value for your needs. Think about what you’ll use your screen for before you start looking. As long as you have the proper lighting, just about any green screen made from high-quality material will get the job done.