I just ordered the RemoteOffice Green Screen and Stand. Before I talk about the gear, let me provide some background on why I want this kind of gear.
I’ve been doing a LOT of meetings online in the past year, both in my Writing Life (using Zoom) and my Day Job (using Microsoft Teams). These tools have built-in features so that you can present a custom background that is NOT your actual surroundings. Basically, the software recognizes a human profile, eliminates the background, and substitutes a different background.
I’ve had a lot of fun with this capability. I’ve used backgrounds that make it seem like I’m on the International Space Station and many other exotic places. I’ve even captured screenshots of myself with some of these backgrounds, which I’ve posted to my website and to Facebook as if I was on a Virtual Vacation (due to the pandemic, of course).
But the software profile recognition is a little glitchy.
- Doesn’t work well if you’re moving.
- May not recognize your shoulders if your shirt is too close in color to part of the background.
- Has difficulty showing objects that you hold up to show other people.
A green screen allows you to bypass these limitations. All of the current online meeting tools handle green screens. The result is a near-perfect delineation of what areas of the background can be replaced by your selected background image (or video).
Onward to the Gear
I’d heard others talk about green screens, but hadn’t researched much when I started seeing ads on Facebook from RemoteOffice for their portable Green Screen and Stand. Basically, it’s an oval screen with a flexible frame. It’s roughly five feet by seven feet and can be positioned on the stand either horizontally or vertically depending on your needs.
One side is green, which is what is most commonly used. The other side is blue, which can be used as an alternate chroma key color for image substitution purposes (so, despite the picture, you don’t get two separate screens).
The nice thing about the screen is that, thanks to a rather peculiar twisting motion, it can be folded into a small circle for easy transport. The product also comes with a small, black, circular carrying case for the screen.
The product got solid reviews on Amazon, so I purchased it from them. The benefit of purchasing from Amazon rather than RemoteOffice directly is due to the free shipping I receive as a perk for my Prime membership. There are also some nice videos on YouTube showing how to set it up, how to fold the screen, etc.
I’m looking forward to its arrival. I foresee an improvement in the imagery of my online meetings, as well as some accompanying upgrades to my Virtual Vacation photos.
OK, the equipment arrived on February 22nd in a single box containing both the screen and the stand. The screen was folded up and stored in its bag.
No directions, but everything was pretty easy to figure out. It wasn’t shown in pictures, but the collapsible stand also came with a custom case. The gear bags were fairly flimsy, so you’ll need to be careful with them to make sure they last.
There weren’t any instructions in the bag, though the vendor does provide a card with some links to useful videos. The RemoteOffice website also references some good videos, as well (especially for folding up the screen). Even without directions, the screen was reasonably easy to set up. The only tricky part is that the cross-piece at the top of the stand has a little clamp that attaches to the metal edge of the screen.
I tested it with Zoom. All I had to do was check the box indicating that I was using a green screen. Zoom handled it seamlessly from there. Since my Mac camera has a fairly wide range, I had to set the screen up very close behind my chair. Once set up, the green screen worked with Zoom just as advertised.
Why Should Writers Care About This Product?
Quite frankly, not every writer will care about, or even need, a product like this. For me, though, I foresee the following uses:
- Enhancing my meeting presence, including my Day Job, writing group sessions, one-on-one editorial consultations, online workshops, etc.
- Improving the quality of my Virtual Vacation photos, which is one of the fun promotional things that I’ve been doing. I’ve even used some of these photos as my Biography photos in my books.
- Adding to my demonstration capabilities, e.g. – being able to hold up a book to show people, or making gestures with my hands that other meeting participants can actually see.
My total cost for the product, including shipping (free) and tax ($5.40) was $95.35. For me, it’s well worth the cost.