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Essential Guide To Green Screens
Snoopeh-Profile
by Snoopeh
Elgato mountable green screen for streaming (courtesy of Elgato.)

What are the main benefits of using a green screen for streaming?

It elevates your stream

By removing your background surroundings, a green screen will allow for only your figure to appear over what you're streaming. Live green screen software helps you to remove distracting elements from your environment, while helping your audience focus on what's important: you and your gameplay.

It uses less screen real estate

There's two ways green screens can open up your stream to your viewers: overlays and going fullscreen. Overlays help you to take up less screen real estate, and fullscreen allows you to create a whole other world or environment to immerse your viewers in. By finding videos and images online, you can download them and turn them into your background. 

Using a green screen can open up your small room into a universe...

This could be you up there with the cast of Star Trek DS9, if only you had a green screen.

So what's the best green screen for live streamers?

The best green screen for streaming is the one that meets a price point that matches your budget, but also works with the space you're in.  

Purchasing green screens

If you're planning on buying one, the best places to look for green screen options are on Amazon or your local Walmart. Prices will range from as low as $15 to a premium one for $180.

Elgato currently has two green screen options, a wider mountable one and a narrower collapsible one that you can stash away. 

Standing version

The advantage of a collapsible panel is that you can protect it from any dirt or damage by putting it away when you're not using it. The standing version is more narrow than most green screens out there, which can be amazing if you're working in a confined space.

Elgato Green Screen (courtesy of Elgato.com)

Mounted version

This option is great for ease of access, but depending on your living situation you may not be able to install it directly onto your wall. 

Both Elgato green screens are top of the line, designed with streamers in mind, but they will run you $159 plus tax (USD). 

Elgato Green Screen MT (courtesy of Elgato.com)

DIY green screens

Keeping things cheap and cheerful

If you're just starting out and aren't even sure if you'll use one for the likes of Twitch, YouTube, or Facebook, consider going the DIY route if you want to test it out first. You can easily make your own DIY green screen for streaming, all you need is some colored fabric and a way to affix the sheet to your wall.

Did you know green screens don't have to be green? They can also be blue, black, or any solid color that you don't have on you. Green is the safest color, blue is relatively safe.

DIY fabric sheet

You can make a DIY green screen by buying a piece of green colored fabric from any fabric store measuring at least 8x10’ for less than $10. 

If you’re going the DIY route, make sure the sheet is taut against your wall. Secure it with staples, nails, clothes pins, whatever works and make sure there are minimal wrinkles by ironing it beforehand, or using a steam cleaner regularly. 

You'll want to clean it ever so often, and make sure there's no dust or markings on the fabric before you start streaming. 

DIY paint project

If you're not attached to the color on your wall, you can even paint your wall green!

Clicking on the source will take you to "Filters" in OBS Live (StreamElements plugin)

Setting up your green screen

Chroma key panel

Green screens are sometimes referred to as "chroma key panels." Chroma keying is the process of matching color codes to the same hue as your green screen. It tells the software program to remove the same hue of green behind you so it looks invisible and you can replace it with an image or video.

Source > Filters > Chroma Key > Key Colour Type > Green (Or Custom)

 

Streaming programs to use for chroma keying

Your options for live green screen software are programs like OBS (Open Broadcaster Software,) which is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux. For a general overview of OBS, I go over the most popular software programs used by streamers in this blog post: How To Become A Streamer

In OBS Live (OBS with the StreamElements plug) the setup will be similar to other programs, with slight differences in interface.

Go to the source and right click on the cog. That will take you to a drop down menu where you can select "Filters." In the Effect Filters panel, select "Chroma Key."  

View of the Effect Filters panel in OBS Live (StreamElements plugin).
Chroma Key panel with "Custom" Key Color Type selected in OBS Live (StreamElements plugin.)
View inside custom Key Colors in OBS Live (StreamElements plugin.)

If you select "Green" as your Key Color Type, you should get a solid background behind your figure, but some adjustments may be necessary. Use the sliders to adjust until your webcam displays you on a solid background.

Selecting "Green" as your Key Color Type should generate great results in OBS Live (StreamElements plugin.)

If you don't adjust the sliders correctly, you might run into problems like below:

Not using the sliders to adjust the settings will result in nightmare fuel like this.

When streaming with green screens, the best thing you can do to make the set up easier is to have good lighting. 

Proper lighting is important

You want the lighting to be as even as possible. You don't want it to be too bright that it bounces off your shoulder. If you have a large light source like a window or a soft box, that's ideal. If the green screen is positioned too close to you and your lighting is a single source of harsh light that casts a shadow, then you'll want to reposition either yourself, your screen, or the light source. 

Which webcam goes best with live green screen software?

Whatever camera you have works. Keep it simple, you don't have to break the bank to set up a green screen. For pro users, you're looking for a clean HDMI out with 4:2:2 subsampling. Higher resolution cameras will also help separate you from your environment more easily.

Can I set up a green screen for Xbox One?

Xbox One does not support any chroma key or green screen features on the console. If you're looking to stream through Xbox and use a green screen, you'll have to use a capture card to do it through your PC. 

Most common streaming green screen issues:

Here are some of the mistakes people make when they're new to this: 

  • Not enough lighting
  • Lighting is not diffused and even, direct source is harsh and casts shadows
  • Green screen is too close behind you, resulting in shadows
  • Wrinkles on the fabric create mini shadows that get picked up by your webcam
  • Dirt, stains, etc. blocking the green color shows up on your webcam
  • Instead of putting it away, the green screen gets left out and furry friends dig their claws into it
DrDisRespect in his command centre. He is well known for his use of green screens to create incredibly immersive streams.

Have more questions about setting up your green screen? Join our free Discord community and get the help you're looking for today. 

Related Articles:
Getting Creative With Your Stream

How To Build A Return Audience

 

👀 Looking for more? See more articles

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