How to Use a Green Screen: Keying

Our last post covered lighting techniques and some of the production basics when using a green screen. Now, we’ll cover some of the post-production process, specifically green screen keying. As Chris explains in the video, you’re using a green screen to effectively replace it with whatever background you want. These backgrounds could range from colors, graphics, landscapes, videos, whatever you want, really.

To perform these post-production functions, you will need some video editing software. Many of these options share the core similarities, but we are using Adobe After Effects for this demonstration.

Keylight

Once the footage is ready, we use Keylight to sample the color we’d like to key out of the frame. This is when that bright green color of your green screen comes in handy. Using your eyedropper, select that green color in your picture’s background. You’ll notice that pretty much all remnants have been instantly removed.

Screen Matte

Depending on how you light your green screen during production, you’ll now need to deal with any shadows or inconsistencies in your background. Using the Screen Matte tool in your view settings, you’ll notice that your main subject has turned completely white (or mostly white) while the background is now black (or mostly black).

From here, open your Screen Matte dropdown list and toggle the Clip Black and Clip White settings until your Black is completely black and your White is completely white.

Setting your new background

Next for your green screen keying process, duplicate your layer so that you have two identical layers. Now you can manipulate the bottom layer however you see fit. In the video demonstration, Chris replaces the effect with a crisply lit white backdrop by changing the Track Matte setting to “Luma Matte.”

This sort of setup allows for nice stationary shots, such as interviews. From here, feel free to test out different backgrounds that best fit the vision and mood of your production.

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