What Material To Use For Greenscreen?

When we first launched Primatte, we tested a variety of ‘greenscreen’ backgrounds to determine what to recommend. Paper backgrounds turned out to be worst and we had the best luck with a velcro/foam material.

Well… apparently not all paper backgrounds are made equal!

I don’t remember who made the paper background we initially tested. But it was awful. Very reflective and prone to hot spots. We figured all paper would have the same problems. After listening to a talk by another company that does greenscreen software, I decided to revisit this and give Savage Paper’s ‘tech green #46’ a try.

So how’d it fare vs. the foam materail we’ve been recommending since day 1?

Excellent! I was very impressed with how evenly it lit. The paper has a very flat finish on it, meaning very little reflection and easy lighting. Of course, we lit everything with two big softboxes, so that helped I’m sure.

I’m going back on my opinion that paper won’t work for greenscreen backgrounds, and give a solid recommendation to the Savage #46 paper. I DO NOT think that all paper will work as well. As in our initial test, some papers are glossy and not suitable for chromakey. Also, Savage just released vinyl backgrounds that come in green and I’m highly skeptical that it’ll work for greenscreen. It’s got a pretty glossy finish, which is usually a disaster for chromakey.

We still recommend the foam material as well. But I think the Savage paper is on par with it, except in terms of reusability. I think the foam material generally works well, it’s easy to transport, and you can easily clean and reuse it.

For full length in a studio, I would give the nod to the paper. I think you’re likely to get a little less spill around the feet, but I don’t think the difference is that significant. You can take a look at the results with the two materials:

There are other materials out there… paint, canvas, etc. The important part with any material is a very flat finish on the surface. If you have that, it should work fine as a greenscreen.

If there are any other manufacturers of greenscreen backgrounds reading this that would like our recommendation on their product, please feel free to contact us to send us a sample. However, right now, the only materials we’re recommending is the Savage #46 paper and foam-backed material made by velcro.

3 thoughts on “What Material To Use For Greenscreen?”

  1. Thanks for the heads up! This is great information. By the way, the link in the newsletter did not work, so I was happy that you also had the link on the home page.

  2. Jim – some good info indeed. Of course it’s tougher when you need your subject to actually walk on the green screen surface and maintain proper lighting balance. As any pro will tell you, the best surface hands-down is paint; but this requires a cyc wall and a studio with a permanent installation if you’re shooting full-length shots. If portability is the issue, then I would suggest the Digital Green Lycra material from Composite Components Company (http://www.digitalgreenscreen.com/) – they also have the best paint and tape options as well as full-body suits for VFX work. Their material is very wrinkle-resistant and stretches taught on a frame easily.. the best I’ve found for portability.

    There are many issues on background materials and lighting that you need to consider – especially when you’re shooting stills with so much more detail than a standard HD video camera may be a bit more forgiving.


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