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Beginners Guide to Green Screen Keying

Liza Brown
Liza Brown Originally published Aug 25, 22, updated Mar 27, 24

Did they have dinner on Mars? Photographers are becoming more daring with their creations thanks to the advancement in editing software. For example, after effects green screen keying allows you to alter your image's background during post-production.

green screen key

The following is all you need to know about the green screen key effect and how to apply it using different video editing software. In addition, you will discover why the effect is popular with video editors. Keep reading to find out more.

In this article
  1. Part1: What is keying in green screen?
    1. Chroma Keys
    2. Luma Keys
  2. Part2: How to do Green Screen Keying in After Effects?
    1. 1. Upload your footage to Adobe After Effects.
    2. 2. Using the green screen key presets.
    3. 3. Drag and drop the preset to your footage.
    4. 4. Apply a new background.
  3. Part3: How to do Green Screen Keying in Filmora? [Free& Easy]
    1. 1. Upload your footage to Filmora.
    2. 2. Adjust your green screen settings.
    3. 3. Merge the new background.
    4. 4. Export your content.
  4. Part4: FAQs:

Part1: What is keying in green screen?

Keying refers to a post-production process of separating and isolating an image's aspects using color or brightness. Typically, filmmakers use it to remove green screens and make color corrections to add warmth to the subjects' skin tones.

It involves identifying a color or brightness value that you will make transparent in the photo. In addition, you can use two types of keys during the keying process.

Chroma Keys

These allow you to select a specific color in your image and make everything that features the color transparent. Typically, chrome keys are best for images and videos featuring lots of green or blue backgrounds.

Luma Keys

Alternatively, you can use luma keys to determine which backgrounds will be transparent according to the brightness level. In addition, you can use them to designate the backgrounds you want opaque in your final image.

So, why do filmmakers prefer using a green screen? First, green is not a natural color in human skin tones. As such, it allows you more creative freedom with your shots. In addition, most digital cameras feature more green photosites allowing you to capture more details in your shots and making it the default choice for filmmakers.

However, you can also use a blue screen for your shots if green is your subject's main color scheme. This is because blue is also rare among human subjects and allows you greater flexibility than any other background alternative.

Using a green screen key is an important skill to learn as a filmmaker. This is because it allows you more creative freedom resulting in more iconic images and photos. Although most video editing software allows you to apply the effect easily, it still requires finesse.

For example, using after effects green screen keying incorrectly can result in spill issues. This is when the green light from your screen bounces back to your subject. As such, you lose some subject detail, and the image appears messy.

Furthermore, not all video editing software includes the green screen key tool. Therefore, always check your software details before purchasing a copy. The next section contains step-by-step guides on performing green screen keying on some of the industry's most popular software.

Part2: How to do Green Screen Keying in After Effects?

Adobe After Effects green screen keying tool is arguably one of the top favorites for filmmakers. It features a user-friendly interface, and several keying presets you can use to achieve incredible photo finishes. For example, the Keylight effect is an Academy Award-winning preset you can use to apply professional-quality color keying.

Follow these steps to do green screen keying using Adobe After Effects.

1. Upload your footage to Adobe After Effects.

upload footage to adobe

Launch the program from your macOS or Windows device, and click on the New Composition From Footage option. A pop-up window with your file locations will appear and click on the footage you want to import. Ensure the footage you use is shot using a green screen background to achieve the best results.

2. Using the green screen key presets.

using the green screen key presets

Once the footage is imported, click on the Window menu option on your workspace, and click on Effects & Presets from the sub-menu. Once the panel opens, tap Animation Presets and highlight the Keylight + Key Cleaner + Advanced Spill Suppressor preset from the Image-Utilities menu.

3. Drag and drop the preset to your footage.

Then drag and drop the effect to your uploaded footage to begin the keying process. The green screen key preset applies three effects to your image:

  • Keylight effect.

The effect allows you to select the background color you want to make transparent. First, select the green screen background by clicking on Screen Color and selecting Color Picker. Then apply the effect by clicking on the green background closest to your subject.

  • Key cleaner effect.

The key cleaner effect sharpens your subject's edges for a more detailed finish. In addition, you will rarely adjust its values because it automatically corresponds to the changes you make using the Keylight effect. However, you can adjust the Additional Edge Radius and Reduce Chatter options to decrease the visible noise of your image. Furthermore, you can use the Alpha Contrast adjustment to increase the sharpness of your subject's edges.

  • Advanced spill suppressor.

Sometimes your green screen background can spill to your subject's edges resulting in a messy outline. For example, you may find a green outline on your subject's hair or clothing. The Advanced Spill Suppressor eliminates these outlines automatically. You can enable the effect by clicking the check box next to the effect from the Animation Presets panel.

4. Apply a new background.

Once you apply the green screen key effect, you can add any custom background to your footage. You need to Import the file to your After Effects library and then drag & drop it into your footage's timeline.

Remember, you must have an active Adobe After Effects license to access the green screen keying feature. In addition, you get access to Adobe Creative Cloud, which offers access to creative asset libraries such as Behance and Adobe Fonts. Alternatively, you can check out the free 7-day trial available to all new users.

Part3: How to do Green Screen Keying in Filmora? [Free& Easy]

Filmora is another popular video editing software that features a green screen editor as part of its effects. The tool, officially known as Chroma Key, allows you to swap your image backgrounds using different colors or images from your internal library.

In addition, the tool is available as a free trial for Windows and macOS devices. However, you will only find it on Filmora version 9 and above. Here is a step-by-step guide on green screen keying using Chroma Key on Filmora.

1. Upload your footage to Filmora.

upload your footage to filmora

Launch the program on your device and click on the New Project option. A window will open where you can Import your green screen footage and the desired background. Once done, you will Drag and Drop the clips to your project's first and second tracks in the timeline.

2. Adjust your green screen settings.

adjust your green screen settings

Then, double-click your green screen footage to open the Edit Panel. Select the Video Tab and check the Chroma Key box to enable the effect. Once done, you can use the following tools to edit your footage:

  • Alpha Channel

The tool allows you to edit the footage's borders, transparency, and shadows by displaying your image in black and white. The areas you have successfully keyed out will be in black and the rest in white or grey, depending on the severity.

  • Offset

The offset tool allows you to change the visibility of your background.

  • Edge Feathering.

You use this tool to soften your subject's edges during green screen keying.

  • Edge Thickness.

The edge thickness tool helps you increase the sharpness of your subject's edges. As such, they appear more detailed resulting in a clear and well-balanced photo.

3. Merge the new background.

Once you complete the green screen keying, merging the new background is next. You do this by seamlessly positioning the background to fit your green screen footage. Then, the Filmora Chroma key tool will merge the images or footage and make it appear as one clip.

4. Export your content.

Finally, you can export your content in multiple formats to suit your desired platform. For example, you can export the file in either MP4, WMV, or MOV to share on most social media platforms.

Please note that you need an active Filmora subscription to use Chroma Key. In addition, you can subscribe to individual and business plans depending on your requirements. However, any creations using the Filmora Individual plan require you to mention the software in their description.

Part4: FAQs:

1. Is there a difference between chroma keying and green screening?

No. There is no difference between chroma keying and green screening. Both processes involve you replacing a specific color in your image and replacing it with a new background. In addition, some filmmakers use the terms synonymously because green is the best color to use when chroma keying. However, you can also use other colors for your chroma keying, with blue being the next best alternative.

2. Can you create a green screen video without using a green screen background?

Yes. It is possible to create a green screen video without a green background. Several apps, including Zoom and Tik Tok, have in-built digital green screens, which you can use to customize your creations. However, you need to have a capable device to access the function.

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Liza Brown
Liza Brown Mar 27, 24
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