Elgato Gaming, known for their series of content creation tools, has been making waves in the streaming industry this year. 2017 has seen the introduction of several major tools, such as the Stream Deck, branching out from their focus of capture cards. During PAX East earlier this year, I had a chance to check out their newest product, aptly named the Green Screen. In September, Elgato gave me one of their green screens and I’ve been using it almost daily ever since. After having used it consistently for the past month, I would say this has been one of the best quality-of-life improvements to my setup.
What is it?
Essentially, it’s a portable projector screen with a chroma key panel in place of your standard white projector screen. While the concept isn’t new, this seems to be the first specifically designed with streamers in mind. The pneumatic x-frame allows automatic locking for an easily adjustable height that should accommodate most broadcasters needs. With a price tag of $149.95 USD, this item falls on the more professional production side of things.
The green screen itself is a decent size, standing at a height of 70.87 inches (180 cm) when fully extended and a width of 58.27 inches (148 cm). While collapsed, the sturdy metal case sits just 4 inches (10.5 cm) off the ground with a width of 64.76 inches (164.5 cm) and a depth of 4.53 inches (11.5 cm). This means it can easily store under most beds or behind a couch when not in use. The feet measure are 16.75 inches (42.5 cm) across when extended and provide a solid foundation for the screen.
The entire package weighs in at a hefty 20.5 lbs (9.3 kg) owing mainly to its sturdy aluminum frame and protective case. The screen material is 100% polyester (Dacron by DuPont) which means not only is it wrinkle-resistant, it’s also hypoallergenic, non-absorbent, and mildew-resistant.
As mentioned earlier, a retractable green screen isn’t a new concept and there are several other competing products on the market. Chroma Wall produces several Green Screen Kits starting at $389 USD and seems to be the most comparable in terms of size. Projector Screen Store has a collection of retractable green screens from $555 USD and up. These are most similar in terms of design (retractable screen stored inside an aluminum carrying case), however, sizing starts slightly larger. It should be noted that the Elgato Green Screen is the only one of the three that allows for adjustable height without any additional manual effort.
There is a whole host of other green screen solutions that can be found on Amazon for relatively cheap. There’s also a lot of do-it-yourself solutions from painting the wall behind you to pinning green fabric across an old clothing rack. These work great if you’re just starting out and have a limited budget. For several years my setup (shown below) consisted of $17 worth of bright green fabric I stitched around a small clothing rack borrowed from my sister-in-law.
While this worked fine, the screen was often left up 24/7 because the teardown and setup process often wasn’t worth the extra space it afforded me. My office space is small, to begin with, and because of the width of the screen, I needed it as close to me as possible making for a really cramped experience. Having the ability to simply put away the screen each night has opened up my office space and made for a more enjoyable streaming experience.
- Super easy to set up. Point-in-case, my 3-year-old can set it up in under 30 seconds.
- Quickly stores away in the aluminum base which doubles as a protective carrying case.
- Automatically locks to the height that works best for you using a pneumatic x-frame.
- Quality materials with a sleek, sophisticated design that feels professional
- While considerably cheaper than its closest competitors, Elgato’s green screen still costs $150 USD. If you’re just starting out, this might not be for you.
- Weighing in at just over 20 lbs means some may find it cumbersome to move.
- Shipping can take upwards of a month and that’s when it’s in stock. Since launch, it’s been frequently sold out.
- There aren’t other sizes available currently. This means you’ll likely need to do cropping and limits the use-cases to smaller shots. While fine for most streamers, this won’t be a fit for everyone.
Overall, the Elgato Green Screen is a professional production tool allowing you to chroma-key your scenes in almost any location. While its price point may place it out of reach for new broadcasters, it does a good job of providing quality for a competitive price when compared to similar products on the market. If your space is limited or you’re looking for an easily portable green screen, this just might be for you.
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