If you’re a streamer or content creator, a green screen is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. Today, we’re looking at the Elgato Green Screen. Retailing for $149, it offers the appealing ability to collapse into itself for easy setup and storage. If space is a concern or you’re simply looking for an easy solution to remove the background from your facecam, this offers a compelling solution. Does the Elgato Green Screen live up to the hype? Read on to find out.
- Current Price: $149.99
- Dimensions: w x h (Extended): 148 x 180 cm / 58.27 x 70.87 in
- Dimensions: w x h x d (Collapsed): 148 x 10,5 cm x 11,5 cm / 64.76 x 4.13 x 4.53 in
- Weight: 9.3 kg / 20.5 lb
- Material: 100% Polyester (Dacron by DuPont)
If you’ve spent any time watching Twitch of Let’s Plays on YouTube, or your local weatherman, then you’re almost certainly already familiar with a green screen. Green Screen tech, also known as chroma key or “keying,” is the process of placing a colored background behind you that the camera can then replace with anything you choose. The result is something like this:
Traditionally, a green screen would be hung from the wall and left there — but what if you don’t have the space or desire to leave a green screen hanging all the time. I’m going to be real here: even as a content creator, I really don’t want five feet of wall to be bright green all the time. Before I had a home office, there was no way I would have convinced my wife to be onboard with that setup in a shared room. For a lot of us, the Elgato Green Screen is the perfect answer.
The screen takes its cues from collapsible signage and, just like the Key Light, it makes you wonder why nobody thought of it before. As the Children’s Director for my local church, I was in charge of buying signage that would be reliable, long-lasting, but also easy to store. Signs that would retracts into their base were almost always the best option because they took seconds to setup and take down, and took very little space in the closet. That’s exactly the case here; the designs and benefits are identical. The only difference is that instead of a polyester sign, it’s the perfect chroma key shade of green. The actual material also feels very durable, more so than the average sign I would purchase.
Setting up is as simple as anything. The green screen comes in a durable metal case. On the bottom there are two plastic feet that rotate out for stability. After that, it’s as simple as unlatching the lid and pulling the screen up. Tear down is equally simple. Push it down, close and latch the lid, and turn the feet back. That’s all.
To keep things smooth and stable, the screen is supported by a durable X-brace. It’s also reinforced with two hydraulic arms that make pulling it out easier and also ensures that it won’t sag or retract unintentionally.
One of my concerns going in was whether or not the screen would be big enough. At roughly six feet by seven feet, it’s sized to match the width of the average 60-inch desk. If you’re using a wide angle lens, or are very tall, you’ll probably find that you can see the edges of the screen in your frame and the rest of your room around the edges. Thankfully, this is easily solved by using the cropping tool in streaming apps like OBS. Adobe Premiere also allows you to create a mask in seconds to get rid of those edges. Even though there are bigger screens out there that would save you that step, it likely won’t be an issue for most webcams, and the solution literally takes seconds to apply.
Another thing I kept hearing about was lighting. As a rule, when you’re using a green screen, you need to make sure you’re well lit. Likewise, many people will recommend that you also light the green screen behind you to eliminate shadows which can muddy the effect. For my lighting setup, I used the Elgato Key Light at about 25% brightness and a ring light at about 40%, as well as a normal lamp in the corner. That’s more than what most people would have, so I kept the brightness on each of these low. I did not have any additional light on the green screen.
(Note: the screenshots you’ll see used the Logitech StreamCam mounted on the monitor, not the Sony camera pictured here).
As you can tell, the results were great. I didn’t see any shadows whatsoever, even though the screen was only about six inches behind me. One thing I did notice that additional lighting might help is the green outline you see around me. This is exacerbated by my black sweatshirt. On a moving frame, and sized to the format of a usual facecam, it’s virtually invisible. For pre-recorded footage, it’s easy to remove in Premiere Pro. I haven’t found it necessary to add extra lighting at all.
The Elgato Green Screen is an excellent bit of kit. Since its introduction, clones have made their way onto the market, but with an MSRP of only $149, it’s priced competitively, if not a little cheaper, than the knock-offs, so why wouldn’t you go with the original. For my space, it’s the perfect solution that allows me to quickly set it up and then store it away when not in use. If you’ve considered getting a green screen, there is no reason not to go with Elgato.