Using a green screen for special effects and photography is nothing new. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to set a large one up. In the past I have spent 10-20 minutes just to set up my green screen. I needed at least one other person to help me do it.
After doing this a couple of times, I decided that there must be a better way. At first I had planned to have a pull down screen like they use in classrooms for projector screens. I could not find any way to make one that was long enough, so I had to think some more. Then I had an idea. Instead of the complicated parts inside those spring loaded classroom screens, I could just use a handle. So I put a handle on one end and manually wrap and unwrap my green screen.
Now that this project is finished, I can quickly and easily set up my green screen by myself in about 1-2 minutes. The green screen box is pretty long though, so the only place I can use it is in the garage. I could have it in the living room, but that would be awkward and I would need to move furniture every time I used it.
Here is a list of materials to make a green screen box like this one:
- A green screen (I would assume you already have one)
- Wood (I used 1" x 6" boards)
- Pipe (Must be metal, other pipe droops down too much)
- PVC pipe fittings (For the handle)
- Some kind of strong glue (I used some contact cement that I already had)
- Very strong cable (To hang it with)
- Some high weight capacity wall hooks
- Chipboard (Dust cover)
- Duct tape
- Screws, nails, etc.
Tools I used:
- Power drill
Also, just for those who try this, you may want to have access to a truck or some kind of large vehicle. I drive a Toyota Yaris, so my building materials didn't quite fit. I did still drive home with everything rigged up though. I needed to get the stuff home and my friends with trucks were busy. Luckily I keep plenty of bungie cords in my car.
Step 1: Make the Box
The first thing I did was to measure the width of the green screen. Mine is about 11' x 12' so my box had to be pretty long. I went to Lowe's and got some 1" x 6" boards cut to 144" long. I kept the scraps to us on other parts like the sides and for supports.
I knew it needed to be open on the bottom to allow for the green screen to roll out without getting snagged or anything. To help be more cost effective, I decided to only get two long planks. The top and back are those two planks joined together in an "L" shape. I know that a box is supposed to have for sides, but it is easier for me to call this a box.
I used the scrap pieces to make the sides of my box. I also used the scraps for interior support where it was needed. The rest of the scraps were divided by size and attached to the back to provide some space away from the wall.
Step 2: Lay Some Pipe
To keep costs low, I tried to make this with PVC pipe first. I got some that was kind of thick, but when it had the weight of my green screen on it, it sagged. Not wanting to take everything apart, I got a peice of rebar to put in the middle. It helped, but not very much at all. (Luckily I was able to take this back to the store)
After I had given up on the PVC pipe, I could not find any pipe that was long enough, so I had to get two smaller pipes and attach them with a coupling part. This makes my green screen a little bit harder to roll up, because it has a bump in the middle. But the bump is not too bad.
To support the handle side of the pipe, I got a pipe fitting that was "T" shaped. I made sure it was wide enough for my pipe to fit inside with enough room to rotate and slide around.
On the end on the pipe on the opposite side of the handle I encountered a problem. I tried to come up with a technique to attach the pipe in a way to allow it to rotate. I thought I had a good idea. I put the end of the pipe into another right angle fitting. I tied the pipe in place with a telephone cord. I used the phone cord because it is stronger than rope and would not need to be replaced for a long time. It did hold the pipe in place and allow it to rotate. So I figured it would hold up just fine.
I wasn't sure how to attach the green screen cloth to the pipe. My best idea was to just tape it with duct tape until I can think of a better option. I think I will try and do a better job when I find the time. I'm trying to figure out a way to get rid of that bump in the middle. It causes a large wrinkle down the middle of the cloth.
Step 3: Get a Handle on Things
I used the PVC pipe fittings to piece together a handle. That way I could wrap and unwrap the green screen much easier. I formed the handle with a few short straight pieces of pipe and some right angled pipe fittings. I glued it all together and put some duct tape on the end for a grip.
I attached the handle to the pipe with glue and some epoxy. It seems to hold up pretty well, so I don't think I'll be needing to add on to it. I propped my box up on some chairs to test out my handle. When I tested it out, it was easy to turn and seemed to work just fine.
Step 4: That's a Wrap
With everything working, I put some chipboard on to help keep my green screen clean and protect it from dust. I nailed it on the top and used velcro to hold the bottom in place. That way my dust cover is secure, but easy to open.
I got some heavy duty picture wire and some large screws to hang my box up on the wall. I found some nice screw covers to help hold the wire in place. Just because I like things to be sturdy, I thought now would be a good time to see how much my green screen box weighed. My box weighs roughly 50-60 pounds, so I got some 100 pound capacity wall hooks. The wire I used was rated to hold 75 pounds. I looped the wire around the screws and drilled them as tight as I could.
I had a few people help me hang it up. Everything was great when I first put it up on the wall. The hooks definitely held it, so I tested it out while it was in place. After unwrapping and wrapping the green screen a few times, one of my cables snapped. I guess the movement made it harder to support. When we took the box down, the telephone cord snapped too. This made the pipe fall and one of the side walls cracked. So, now I had two problems to solve.
First I used some braces to hold the cracked wall together. Then I went and got some 100 pound capacity picture hanging wire. Just to be safe, this time I used two pieces of wire wrapped together for added strength. I could be wrong, but I think that should be able to hold 200 pounds.
Instead of another pipe fitting joint that rotated, I went with a much easier solution that I had never considered. I got half of a flange and just put that on the end of the pipe. Once it was in place, it kept the pipe from sliding out, and allowed for easy rotation.
Step 5: Hang It Up
My green screen box was finally ready. I got a few people to help me re-hang it up and I was done!
Now to keep wrinkles under control, I bought an iron/clothes steamer. Hopefully I can figure out a better way to attach the cloth to get rid of that bump in the middle.