Green screens for Zoom virtual backgrounds, ManyCam as well as online teaching platforms make for a surprisingly easy, fun and professional background. While it may seem a bit intimidating from a technical and cost standpoint, green screens are truly affordable and easy to use.
A green screen may be right for you as it’s important to have a good, thoughtful teacher background for your online class. We have our own dedicated guide on some quick and easy design options for your teacher background, but for some teachers it may be a good idea to get a green screen and use a virtual background.
Are Greenscreens expensive and complicated?
Most of us associate green screens with big expensive movie productions. That a green screen is probably very expensive to purchase and confusing to use. But the reality is that green screens can be small, affordable and easy to pack up and put away.
How do they work?
Greenscreens work by way of chroma-keying. It’s a process of having one solid color that can be made transparent in either post production (or live in a Zoom call for example) by having the image, video or footage positioned beneath the color then blanked out.
Green is the most popular color because our skin tone and hair simply don’t match the color green. Obviously you can’t wear any green clothing, but the chroma-keying process works with any color, not just green (blue is the second most popular color).
What to look for in a green screen for a virtual background
You have a few different options when purchasing a green screen. You can get something as simple as green fabric from any store or purchase a simple and affordable green screen kit.
You simply need to take care and make sure your greenscreen is free of wrinkles and various creases as it’s makes the chroma-keying process more difficult.
Next, you’ll need enough material to cover the area behind you as well as a way to hold up the greenscreen. Some teachers simply tape their greenscreen to a wall, others use a hangar to hold everything up.
Green Screens for online teachers
So what are the best options for teachers who are using Zoom, Many Cam or a platform like VIPKID that supports a chroma-keying background? Here are some options we like at Teach and GO:
- Julius Studio
- Elgato Green Screen
- Neewer Chroma-key
- Yesker Video Studio
- Emart Photoshoot
- Chroma-key Paint
Julius Studio – The Basic Choice
This is an uncomplicated, no frills green screen. It comes in at a 5 foot width and a 10 foot height. It’s not too big, but it is on the larger side so just be aware that you will need a bit of space to get this screen setup.
It also comes with nothing to help hold the green screen up so you’ll need to improvise. Either tape it to a wall or get a dedicated green screen stand like this Emart backdrop stand.
It’s just a simple, basic, easy to use option. Be careful not to wrinkle it when you put it away. Otherwise you’ll have to spend some time ironing out creases.
- A simple, easy to use green screen that works with Zoom, Manycam and streaming software like OBS.
- Affordable and easy to pack up.
- You’ll need to source your own way to hang this up. We suggest getting a T-shape backdrop stand.
Elgato Green Screen – The Collapsible Option
The Elgato Green Screen is unique option simply because it comes with it’s own built in stand that is also collapsible for when not in use. You take it out, expand it, the material is held tight so their are no wrinkles and then you can put it away when done.
This option is a bit more expensive than we would like, but it works really well. You just take it out, extend the screen up and everything locks into place. Then when done, it collapses and you can put it away.
The case it’s store in is aluminum so it’s built to last and overall it’s just easy to take out and put away. The advantage of this setup is you never need to worry about wrinkles, creases or storage.
- High quality green screen that is easy to take out and put away.
- Premium build quality for long term use.
- Solid, chroma friendly green color that works.
- It’s one of the more expensive options on the list.
- We wish this screen was a bit wider.
Neewer Chroma Key – The Small Choice
Looking for something small and simple? These Neewer Chroma Key Blue/Green backgrounds work quite well. They come in at 5 by 6.5 feet. On the smaller side, but a bit bigger than you would think.
These are perfect to setup right behind your chair and are also ideal if you use a smaller chair when teaching. They are also convenient for the on the go teacher. While not the easiest to fold up, once you get the hang of it, it’s a small light item to put into your backpack.
Also, we like that it comes in blue. To be honest, green is a bit of a jarring color so it’s nice you can get something more visually appealing for your home.
- Fairly small, portable green screen.
- Comes with it’s own storage bag or can fit into your backpack of choice.
- Pairs well with a T stand backdrop.
- You need to be careful not to wrinkle the muslin material when folding it up.
Yesker Video Studio – The Pro Option
For most online teachers, this is excessive. But if you do want a professional green screen kit for online class, Zoom, Manycam and YouTube videos this is a great choice.
It’s 5.9 feet by 9.5 feet making it a wide and tall option. Perfect if you ever need to capture a full body pose. Just make sure you have enough space for this to fit.
Overall, this green screen works and is reliable for home use. Just make sure to get a stand for it as it’s just the cloth material.
- Big choma key friendly screen that just works.
- Comes in multiple colors: Black, white and green. No blue however.
- Works fairly well without additional lighting.
- No stand comes with this so you need to source your own.
Emart Photoshoot – The large, cheap choice
This is another basic greenscreen. It only comes in green, has no stand but you do get clips to mount it onto any bar. It’s the most budget option of the large green screens.
Simply throw this over a window or clamp it onto any stationary bar. The material is a bit cheap and wrinkly due to the way it’s folded but for a simple purpose like a virtual background for online teaching, this is fine.
Again, you will need to figure out how best to hold this up in your home. There are various stands you can also purchase for use in your home office.
- Large, cheap and works for casual use on a laptop or desktop.
- Not for professional use obviously.
Chroma key paint – The DIY Solution
Did you know you can buy chroma key paint? Neither did we until our community manager Brad bought some and painted a piece of cardboard with it.
Honestly, we’re quite surprised by how effective this paint is. While not an ideal solution for most (as we do suggest getting a budget green screen), you can paint a wall or a piece of cardboard and setup DIY green screen.
We think this is most ideal for an actual school. Maybe have a section of the computer room painted with this stuff so you can teach your students photoshop and video editing skills.
Perhaps however you’ll want to paint a small section of your home or as Brad did, some cardboard in order to have a consistent green screen effect.
- No wrinkles, no fuss.
- Ideal if you want a dedicated area to be your “greenscreen” area.
- Works surprisingly well with any chroma key friendly software.
- It’s paint, as such it is permanent which can be good or bad.
Non reflective green muslin cloth
When buying a green screen you’ll see the word “muslin” thrown around a lot. This is a specific type of material that is not reflective and easy to iron. The reasons you want this is because you need a consistent background.
Any wrinkles, creases or reflective light bouncing off the green screen will hamper the overall effect. Which is why paint and using cardboard is workable idea too.
Lighting for online teaching
If you do decide to tryout a green screen (and why not, their not that expensive) make sure you have decent lighting. Here at Teach and GO we have a dedicated guide as to the best lighting for video for online teachers.
Lighting is important when using a green screen because it helps with the separation of the subject from the background.
Consider getting a dedicated stand
With a green screen, a small option like Neewer circles can be attached right to your chair. Other options are to tape it up or drape it over a window. If you want a professional solution then get a dedicated T shape stand that is specifically designed to hold up this sort of material.
While it does add a bit to the cost of the more budget green screens, it is a solution that will just work.
Best green screens for online teaching conclusion
That’s it for our guide on using a green screen with any chroma key friendly software like Zoom or Manycam. Also, if you’re working with an online teaching company reach out to them to see if the video effects they provide work with a green screen.
It’s an overall great way to create an engaging and dynamic online class setting for young learners and it’s simple to setup. Make sure to checkout our guide on the best virtual backgrounds for online teachers too.