Introduction: How to Create a Retractable Green Screen
In light of the pandemic, many people are experiencing moments where they could benefit from a green screen. We are in a time where students, employees, and other demographics are meeting virtually and are possibly in need of a professional space to work in at home. A green screen is a great way to have an unorthodox space appear as professional. While most computers are capable of automatically removing the background in conference calls and videos, some people have computers that don't meet the necessary requirements and need a green screen to remove their background. Additionally, green screens can be used recreationally for better quality background removal, photo and video shoots, and other passion projects.
One issue that arises when installing a green screen is having to dedicate space for a green screen setup. This project guides you through the steps to making a retractable green screen. This green screen will be able to pop up whenever you need it and easily collapse for quick storage.
This project focuses on STL Standard 19, which states "Students will develop an understanding of and be able to select and use manufacturing technologies." Benchmark D will take priority, stating that "manufacturing processes include designing products, gathering resources, and using tools to separate, form, and combine materials in order to produce products." This project can be completed at the 6-8th grade level.
- 1 retractable roll-up banner stand (approx. 60" wide)
- 1 green screen section (material varies, size has to match dimensions of banner stand)
- 1 roll of clear tape (approx. 20" wide)
- (optional) 1 clothes iron/steamer
For the purposes of this project, I am using the material found here:
Banner stand: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001EHR0T2/ref=p...
Green screen: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086M99GG5/ref=p...
Step 1: Prepare Your Green Screen
It is important that your green screen material is nice and straight before assembling it into the finished product. Before starting anything, be sure to lay your material out flat and iron/steam all of the wrinkles out (seek the help of an adult if needed). If you are using a paper material, then ironing/steaming is unnecessary. Once the material is straight, lay it on a flat surface in a room with plenty of space. You will need enough room for assembly.
Step 2: Attach the Green Screen to the Top Bar
The top bar is the piece of the banner stand that attaches to the top of the material when extended. To attach this part to your green screen material, follow these steps:
1. Release the clamp on the top bar by lifting the top of the clamp up (see first picture).
2. Slide the short end of the material underneath the clamp until the entire end is pulled all the way through.
3. Press down on the clamp to secure the poster to the top bar (see second picture)
It is very important to make sure the clamp is properly secured to the material. Failing to do so can result in the material releasing from the top bar while it's fully extended. Since the banner is a spring system, the material could possibly roll up into its compact storage system, making it extremely difficult to retrieve the top end of the material without the top bar. If you see any gaps or spaces where the material is supposed to be secured to the top bar, repeat these steps until the material is properly secured.
Step 3: Attach Other End to the Banner Base
It's now time to grab the main part of the banner stand: the base. There will be a piece of plastic that attaches to the spring mechanism within the base. On this piece of plastic is a piece of adhesive that will attach to the opposite end of your green screen material. To do this, follow these steps:
1. Temporarily fold the revealed end of the green screen material back to prepare for the attachment to the base.
2. Lay the stand down so the adhesive on the piece of plastic is facing up.
3. Remove the paper covering the adhesive and slowly lay the green screen material over the adhesive. Make this as straight as possible. Failure to do so may result in ripples and unevenness when the screen is fully assembled.
4. Use the clear tape to tape the back edge of the green screen down to the piece of plastic for added protection. Flip the banner and do the same to the front of the banner.
Step 4: Your Green Screen Should Now Look Like This:
Step 5: Roll Green Screen Into the Base
While holding the green screen down close to the base, pull the pin (see first picture) out the right side of the base. This releases the spring mechanism within the base to start rolling up the green screen into its self-storage system. Release the hand holding the green screen down and carefully guide the green screen into the base. The green screen will automatically roll into the base, but you have to make sure the screen rolls in without any bends or scratches. The top bar will stop the green screen from rolling in completely. After the screen is finished rolling into the base, lay the base down and prop out the two feet for stability (see second picture).
Step 6: Pop Up Your Green Screen!
Now that the preparation is completed, all you have to do is deploy it for use! To fully assemble your new retractable green screen, follow these steps:
1. Attach the two arms to the back of the base.
2. Raise the arms to the desired height. It is important that each arm is the same height.
3. Standing behind the base, grab the top bar of the green screen and pull it up to the hooks on the top of the arms. You will need to keep one foot on the back of the base, or else the base will lift off the floor while attempting to pull the screen up.
4. Carefully hook the back of the top bar onto each arm.
And that's it! Your green screen is ready for your Zoom calls! To use it, assemble the screen behind you so the screen covering all of the background viewable in the camera. Then, configure your settings to be able to change your virtual background. To store the assembly, all you have to do is follow the steps in Step 6 in reverse and put it in the storage bag provided with the stand.
While there are alternatives to retractable green screens, this option is marginally cheaper than most options that come fully assembled. This project gives you a quality green screen without breaking your wallet. The total cost for this project was around $75. All of the green screens that had a similar premise were priced over $100, with the majority of them having to have some sort of inconvenient assembly (hung on a wall, extremely heavy, etc.). Hopefully, this project brings some ease to the worries of your work-at-home environment or assists you with those cool video effects. Happy creating!