I searched for a long time


I searched for a long time to find a portable green screen. This company Amvona came up with a very cool concept; they use inexpensive materials and fabric with green on one side and blue on the other side. It is somehow sewn into somewhat pliable metal on the edges.


When in use, this is a big rectangle with rounded corners. The entire piece folds when you don’t need it into a "circle". At least, it’s supposed to fold into a circle. At best mine becomes an ovalish shape when I fold it for storage or portability. The edges are a bendable metal, and it never really stays flat when unfolded — there’s just the slightest twist curve to it. Also, they give a very thin round cloth with a zipper to hold and transport this piece, but my zipper broke within the first 6 months from all the porting around.

I’m not affiliated with the company, but it kept coming up as the vendor every time I did an e-bay search for portable green screens. At the time I was about to purchase, it just turned out to be cheaper from their direct store than on E-Bay. I got mine for about $100 maybe 18 months ago, and prices haven’t changed all that much.

The one thing they don’t tell you in the official description is that this never quite stands completely flat; there is always a slight bit of warping due to the pliable metal of the edges so that the top left leans forward a bit, or the bottom right leans back. I got the green/blue screen and already had a banner stand, which I hang it on at a slight angle. This is one thing you will need to worry about. I did try to lean it against a wall, but it was at an angle and slightly warped. Unless I was shooting outside in sunlight it was hard to get rid of the green or bluish shadows caused by uneven lighting due to its being angled to the wall. But they do provide 2 straps on one edge of this, so it fits perfectly on my banner stands, and I carry my banner stand anytime I am using my green screen. I have learned that unless I strap the top to the banner stand and hold the bottom with clips, it does not get even lighting to key out the colors well. But the material is made well; there has never been any case where it shone or reflected any lights. If I need green, I use one side; just turn it over to the other side if I need blue. I’ve gotten my best results with the green side. The one I got is 7 feet high, 5 feet wide; more recently I see they have come out with the 3.5 x 5 footer. This smaller one would be more convenient to lug around; its folded diameter is 19 inches. Mine is about 3 feet in diameter when folded. But the real advantage of having the wider one is that it covers even larger people. And because it’s about 7 feet, it can be turned onto its side and creatively stretched, so if 2 people need to be green screened they can be sitting really close, then edited to be further from each other in the editing software.

I don’t know if Amvona reads its own product reviews, but some of the reviewers are really just mean. Some of them sound like they are trying to get you to buy more amvona products. Some people complain that it’s difficult to fold, and that they need an instruction manual. My own opinion is that sometimes these things take common sense and preparing ahead of time. Folding it up takes 30 seconds for 1 person. If you had 2 it would be a lot faster. For all the benefits of portability and collapsibility, I don’t mind a bit of the fuss. I have to admit, I do lay it out and use an iron on some of the edges before an important shoot. The edge metal is pliable, and if you feel you are getting some less taut cloth where folds may appear, just spend half a minute bending edge on apposite ends, and you get a tight fabric across the problem area.

I know, I know; all you are real world videographers with real vision and great audio technique, and all sorts of talent. I’m just a web developer, and I have nowhere near the talent or skills or equipment or eye for perfection you all have, but here’s one of my green scren pieces. The actors are standing in front of the green screen, and I shot it with a cheap Sony f828 digicam. It takes 30fps video onto its memory stick or microdrive. I chose to use my 8Gb microdrive for capture of this footage. I added the fake semitransparent blurry shadow, the awful background, the terrible music, the bad audio capture, blinding graphics, bad keying, and a host of other amateur errors. The actors were sitting so closely, their noses almost touched during the interview; I moved them a bit further in After Effects and used the KeyLight filter to key out the green screen. Click the arrow to get it to play.

Black Box Chicago

To see other, equally bad examples, check out the
Spanish Video and Hunter Douglas pieces. They are second and third down; you have to click the arrows to begin playing their video. None of these ever made it to the light of being viewed, because as you can see, I’m pretty awful at the whole video thing. The Hunter Douglas one is especially bad, as I never quite got the green screen to key out properly.

I’ve been at user forums before, and I know I’ll get ripped for my bad technique; if all goes really well, teachers will use this piece to tell their students what never to do. But here’s at least a working example of how even an amateur like me can use this portable green screen to get footage online. You can see jaggies near the hair; that’s a combination of my not having a great cam and also conversion to flash video. The more solid an object, the more effectively I could key it out. And I never got better results than when I was using natural light. And sometimes I just thought, I’ll lean it near the wall, and worry about good lighting later (during these times I just never was able to remove the green screen, and it looks like green fur is alive and running around inside the video on top of the actors). This portable solution actually saved me much worry about lighting. By having the talent far enough in front of it, and lighting the green screen well in most cases you can’t see the screen. Uneven lighting was not a problem except for the very edges of the portable green/blue screens, because some small folds tended to creep up in those areas.
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