Cheap Collapsible Green Screen Setup That Looks Great


In this tutorial, I’m going to walk you through using a cheap green screen setup that can be purchased for around $100.

Let me be the first to tell you that I’ve never really liked green screen – especially cheap DIY setups. At a previous job as the lead videographer at a small college, we had a green screen studio for recording tutorials and promotional videos. But in a small space with mediocre lighting, it was difficult to ‘get a good key,’ meaning to be able to easily remove the green screen background while editing.

cheap green screenA good green screen shot is a delicate balance of good lighting, a screen without creases, and enough distance between the subject and background to limit any ‘green spill’ from appearing on the subject. This spill can make it difficult to remove the green screen cleanly while editing.

For years I’ve stayed away from even trying a green screen home setup. I’ve been happy with the gray paper backdrop that I’ve used for many of my shoots. I also just like using real backgrounds because green screen always looked funky to me. If it’s not done perfectly, it looks amateur.

While prepping to record a new Adobe Lightroom photo editing course with Jon Haase, we made the bold decision to include a green screen shot in our tutorials. Jon already had the equipment. I didn’t.

I hopped onto Amazon, found a collapsible 5’ x 7’ backdrop with a great price and the best reviews, and went for it. If you’re interested in getting the same one, it’s the Fancierstudio Chromakey Collapsible Backdrop (there are a few other brands that look very similar – and probably are).

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Here’s what the setup looked like in my office:collapsible green screen setup

Backdrop and Screen:

To hold up the screen, I purchased a backdrop stand and some clips. The screen isn’t huge, and I debated over getting one of the larger cloth backdrops that could cover more area. But for my intended use of simple talking head without much movement, the 5’ x 7’ disk should do.


I’m using the simple paper lantern setup I’ve used before to light me. I’m using additional lights


I wanted to test out how it looks with the easiest camera setup – my Logitech c920 webcam.


I’m recording audio with the Heil PR-40 connected to the computer via a Zoom H264 recorder.

Editing Software:

I edited the video in Adobe Premiere Pro with the Ultra Key effect.

Keys to a Successful Green Screen Setup:

  1. Keep the green screen flat. Large wrinkles will create shadows that make it hard to key out the entire background.
  2. Light the background & the subject. Think of the lights you use to light your subjects as completely separate than the background lighting. Lighting from the front will cast shadows on the screen, so you’ll need additional lighting specifically focused on the screen to get rid of those shadows.
  3. Use crop to cut out the majority of the video your subject isn’t in. Why worry about trying to key out the top corners of the screen when you can just crop them out cleanly.
  4. Adjust the spill suppressor to remove any green tinge of color on the edges of your subject. Light reflecting from the green screen may appear on the edges shoulders, head, and arms. Most video editors with chromakey (green screen) effects have a spill suppressor that can help with this.

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How to Edit Green Screen Video

I hope this article has helped you:

a) decide whether or not to get a collapsible green screen

b) learn how to edit green screen video in Adobe Premiere Pro

c) BOTH!


  • Learnt a lot, Phil. Thanks.

    I would love to see a video of how you set up the H4n Zoom. I have one and want to attach a lab mic and record into my computer. The whole thing looks overwhelming, but I plan to travel a lot and I figure the zoom will give me great sound, whether I use it with Screenflow or as audio for outdoors videoing.

    Appreciate all you do!

  • Phil learning a lot thanks! Regarding this setup…any suggestions as how far the subject should be in front of the screen? I am guessing the best in terms of distance will be from waste up with a portable unit like this?

    Should the light that is on the subject be at an angle instead of directly pointing in front of the subject?

    Or does it not matter as long as the screen itself is well lit?

    thanks so much!

    • Great questions Jeremy.

      Some rules of thumb with green screen:
      1. It’s good to be as far away from the green screen as possible. But you have to balance this with your composition, because the farther you are away from it (and the camera), the less the screen will cover.
      2. With lighting, ideally you would light your subject like you would a traditional video setup (from an angle), including a back light. But it depends on your style/situation. I have two lights that are basically right in front of me, which doesn’t create any contrast of lighting on my face. That’s a particular style choice.