Introduction: Cheap Portable Chroma Key Screen (Bluescreen)

Picture of Cheap Portable Chroma Key Screen (Bluescreen)

This Instructable is about how to build your own cheap portable chroma key screen (bluesceen).

More information about this project here.

Koos, The Make Class
Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam

Step 1: Parts, Tools & Links

Picture of Parts, Tools & Links

# Blue or green material, 2 x 2 meter - 5~10 Euro
Use a good blue or green color! More information about this on Wikipedia. I bought my material on the market. Think about light reflection and stretching!

# 4x tubes 2 meters - 15~20 Euro
I used 4 centimeter waterconducts.

# 4x bended (corner) tubes - 5 Euro
Also used for waterconducts.

# Hard PVC glue - 6 Euro
For the waterconducts.

# Scissors
# Sewing-machine
# Needles

Please read before you start a lot of information about chroma keying.

# Wikipedia

Step 2: Building the Frame

Picture of Building the Frame

Building the frame is easy. Make a square from the tubes and mount them with each other with the corner piece.

To make it stronger you can use glue to mount the corner piece. Mount on two tubes to each side the corner piece with glue. Not on all tubes, because it still got te be portable :)

Step 3: Preparing the Material

Picture of Preparing the Material

This step is about preparing the material for the sewing-machine. To get a good and strong result you'll have to use a sewing-machine. If you have never done this before, look around if some will help you with this.

Some tips:
- Find someone with some experience to help you.
- Use needles!
- It will help if you stick some parts rough together, remove this after you sticked it again with a sewing machine.

My material was 8 x 1.5 meter. So I had to cut it in pieces to get 2 x 2 meter. Part one has size 2 x 1.5 meter and part two 2 x 0.55 meter (5 centimeter extra for the seam). Use needles to make it one part.

Now we have to create a border at each side to make it strong. Fold 10 cm at each side to a 3~4 centimeter border. Use again needles. At the end the size of the whole screen will be 1.80 x 1.80 meter.

From the rest material you can make strokes. With these strokes you will be able to attach the screen to the frame. I cut it in 64 strokes, each 10 x 25 centimeter. This sounds maybe a lot, but I got on each side 8 attach strokes for optimal span. I fold each stroke to a 3 x 25 centimeter stroke. Don't attach these already to the main materiaal (screen).

The preparing is done!

Step 4: Stick It Together With the Sewing-machine

Picture of Stick It Together With the Sewing-machine

Now you can stick all your prepared material together with the sewing-machine. If you have never done this before (like me) ask someone to help you. Make some tests on old material before you start.

First, Stick the main (screen) material together. Second, stick the folds on the border. The main (screen) material is done now. You can remove all needles and rough sticks.

It's now time to stitch the strokes. Warning: This is a lot of work! :)

If you are done with both you can attach the strokes to the main (screen) material. To do this:
- Place every time two strokes on each other, and then stick it with needles on the back of the main (screen) material.
- If you placed all strokes on the right place with needles, you can stick it with a sewing-machine.

The sewing-machine work is done, attach it to the frame!

Step 5: End Result

Picture of End Result

If you have attached the screen material to the frame you will have something like the pictures below.

Good luck with chroma keying! ;)

My teacher Theodore Watson wrote quick in openFrameworks a live keying tool for the presentation, you can see this at the last picture below.


itsjustdoc (author)2012-12-07

What's the cost in US dollars for a set-up like this?

windrago (author)2010-05-10

 what software can I use on the mac?

gernith (author)windrago2010-05-14

 I have final cut express 4 and it has chroma key capabilities.

You can play with camtwist for free.  It is pretty poor at chroma keying, but it's free and you can play around.  (You can also use it with skype)

windrago (author)gernith2010-05-16

 thx I just found out that iMovie9 has a chroma key feature (well hidden in the options :-)

dremeldude (author)windrago2012-07-13

If you want a more professional piece of software, you could use apple motion, its only 50 us dollars.

Aburame Shino (author)windrago2010-09-27

Be a pirate. Get Adobe Bridge, Photoshop, After Effects, whatever. Just one Adobe After Effects CS4 license is $1000, so if you don't have money to blow, there you go, Joe.

ivanjacob (author)2012-02-02

why the netherlands on the screen?

BroBillnTexas (author)2010-09-18

If you don't mind another suggestion, why not do away with all of the strokes completely? The pictures shows that a hem was made all around the material. Why not just make the hem larger enough to accept the size of the plastic pipe (PVC) to slide easily inside of the hem? Then each one of the four PVC pipes could then be modified into two separate pieces, coupled together with a coupler, making transporting easier and setup time quicker. No need to tying all of those strokes or strings.

moomooman (author)2008-07-03

great instructable but i don't know where to get it for mac

spikemp (author)moomooman2009-12-28

That's not really relevant. I use a Mac, but I have and use Adobe After Effects for the actual keying, great instructable btw.

sciamannikoo (author)2008-06-25

Nice instructable! ....ooooor: 1. take a second hand laptop 2. Install any MS system 3. Delete few system files (with Vista you don't even need this step) 4. Enjoy your blue screen ;)

i just had a bluescreen of death today. not fun. nice idea, though! :D


Richiepoo (author)sciamannikoo2008-09-24

I'm gonna try that at school! (I have a mac)

romor24 (author)sciamannikoo2008-07-30


Besides, I use Vista ;)

mangenoll (author)sciamannikoo2008-06-30

Thats a great way of doing it! Works every time I tries it!

MrFairlady (author)sciamannikoo2008-06-25

XD that comment made my day...

=SMART= (author)sciamannikoo2008-06-25

hahaha nice.

jaapiyo (author)2009-06-13

are you Dutch?

El Chucko Norris (author)2009-02-03

nice man i've been looking how to make one not for a billion dollars

The_pyrogeek (author)2008-06-27

Anyone know of a good *FREE* chroma-keying program for Window$?

search WAX 2.0 on google and download the free program

In my opinion, WAX doesn't work very well. I use T@B ZS4. It's free, and it's quite powerful. It's pretty user-friendly, but it sometimes is hard to get the results by just messing with it. But on their site it has a good tutorial for green/blue screening, which makes it easier for beginners. It is my free program of choice.

T@B ZS4 is definitely alot more complicated than WAX to create the greenscreen effect, the only problem I have with wax is it strips out the sound of the video clip, which you can always put back in later, and I have found that when you save a wax file as a video clip, it comes out as an AVI which I believe is accepted by every editing program out there. (unless you have a cheap junky one!)

WAX only selects one color from the video, which doesn't work for me.

There are many reasons why you may need to use a program that lets you select 2+ colors, your camera quality and the lighting, shadows, and even distance all play into how you need to greenscreen. T@B ZS4 seems to have a poorer quality output than WAX

So WAX can select multiple colors?

no it can't, but it may be easier for you to use WAX, its extremely simple to use, so I'd say try using clamp lights to light gs...

But you still need multiple colors, as you yourself said. I don't use a green screen. I use what find to use, which is textured most of the time. So I use ZS4.

well, wax is also very similar to adobe after effects in the effects it can do, it has a easy interface. My main problem is I've never been able to get the hang of T@b zs4

polird (author)The_pyrogeek2008-06-28

i have used wax and it seems to work well.

Mr.Revolution (author)2008-07-09

Building it right now. bc i'm american and don't use the metric system my measurements are not in meters. knowing that ceilings are normally 8 feet and i will be using this in my or my friends house i have a 7'x7' setup. got 40ft of pvc (only sold in 10ft lengths) and the 4 90 degree connectors for $15.30 at home depot. i plan on getting a blue or green fabric that is not reflective (because then surrounding colors may mess up my key) with a high thread count. anything that has large or elaborate stitching seems like it may mess with the dv camera we have and therefore be harder to get a good key. as far as choosing green or blue i think it depends on what you will be keying. i remember reading that if you are wearing/keying red then a blue screen is better then green. thanks for the idea and the great instructable! cheers?

legsmacgee (author)Mr.Revolution2008-07-16

Just because your american doesn't mean you can't use the metric system. I'm an american, and in general I think its easier and more intuitive to use.

Joanassie (author)legsmacgee2008-08-04

YAY! Not all US people use Imperial!

Joanassie (author)2008-08-04

I have a few suggestions, and if they don't get added, I'm asking permission to post my own modified version. Here they are: Attach the fabric to 2 pipes, opposite of each other. Cut the other pipes in half, and glue one corner to each small piece. Take two short pipes and glue a coupler on each. Assemble. Hope you like them, and post any problems please.

JellyWoo (author)2008-07-04

wait, what program do you use for editing with chroma screen?

JellyWoo (author)2008-07-04

i just used a blue plastic tablecloth that was taped to the wall.

THE_GEEK2007 (author)2008-07-01

does anybody know where to get chroma-key software for MAC-preferably free TGT

JamesRPatrick (author)2008-06-29

Anyone know how to make a portable one with a floor too, that won't wrinkle when you step on it?

Einsteins Circuitry (author)2008-06-27

I've used a blue screen once before and I haves to say, lighting is VERY important. If you have a bright spot on the blue screen, the end result won't look very nice. Just one question... Is a blue screen better than a green screen or vise versa? PS: If you haven't tried it already, it's fun to have someone where all blue/green so that it looks like they're floating. It looks really neat. :-)

one of my family members is in the movie business and she says that green screen is a more universal screen for indoors or out but blue only works well indoors. Remember lighting because shadows might not be included as blue or green, which will cause problems.

JamesRPatrick (author)polird2008-06-29

It all depends on the subject you are shooting. If you want your subject to have green on them, use a blue screen, and vice versa. As for indoors and out, I think the material of the screen primarily affects how well solar light bounces off versus artificial light.

You can use any color you want, but green and blue are least common in humans.

technick29 (author)2008-06-25

Blue/green screening always sounded cool to me. Nice job. I read somewhere that you can buy cheap neon green table cloths at party places and they will work just as well. Have you ever tried it and (dis)prove the theory? Of course, it wouldn't look quite as nice as that blue screen...

themakeclass (author)technick292008-06-26

This will work too, but then it's filtering the clothes and not the background :)

I tried doing this, and it's hard to get the folds out of paper tablecloths, which end up ripping themselves from whatever you use to mount them. I have not yet tried plastic tablecloths, but a green bed sheet works well. Even better is a wall or piece of wood painted green or whatever color, but that's not very portable.

Shagglepuff (author)2008-06-28

To make it even more portable, attach lights to the back of the screen so light shines through.

Couso (author)2008-06-28

Great instructable

plyalex1994 (author)2008-06-27

Where can I get a live keying program hopefully for free it looks really cool. This is really cool

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