Chroma Key

Here are the keys to successful chroma keying… and terrible pun making. All you need is one chromatic green bed sheet. Which you can get at most swedish bedding stores. And then someone to stand infront of it while you point a camera at them!

Tips for actual success:
1. Evenly light your green scree! The fewer wrinkles, shadows, and etc it has on it the better things will be later.
2. Make small changes in the number. Fine tuning makes the best matte, you want to be just at the limit that makes the image good.
3. Have fun. It might seem like a stupid step but after 5 hours of looking at the same dude in front of that screen you better be having fun or getting paid a whole lot of moneys!

If you have any questions leave them in the old comments section below and have fun!



  • Beth

    29.11.2011 at 23:22 Reply

    Hi sensei! How do I save/export my chroma keying work to Premiere Pro? When I do it, it always says that it’s not bringing the keylight effects, and then it just brings my original footage. Whyyyyyy is it hating on my effects? How do I transfer it over to my premiere project WITH the keylighting? Also, in AE my footage never plays in realtime and never has volume. What the.

    Thank you most kindly 🙂

    • ECAbrams

      30.11.2011 at 00:03 Reply

      Well for you playback problem. AAE has to render everything. So if you want to preview it you’ll have to RAM preview. That will bringing in your audio and everything in real time. Or you can play just audio by pressing “.”

      As to your keylight AAE to Premiere problem are you importing the AAE project into Premiere? Or is it some other method?

  • Beth

    30.11.2011 at 02:25 Reply

    Yeah, I’ve tried importing AAE into Premiere, I’ve tried exporting from AAE to Premiere, and I tried saving and opening through the media browser but it only let’s me save as a project or a template. When I reopen the project in Premiere, it doesn’t load my keylight effects. Then I saved it as a template and it would open with the keylight effects but would not behave when playing back in Premiere. That probably has something to do with rendering it prior to saving in AAE, eh?

    Thanks for your quick responses!

    • ECAbrams

      01.12.2011 at 02:15 Reply

      If you’re happy with the key export with an MOV with alpha channel? Has to be on RGB+Alpha color depth though.
      Templates certainly do not behave themselves. But the render files do not transfer from AAE to Premiere. Premiere actually re-renders it all every time and can be a pain the the bum.
      Best bet I would say is to fully composite the shot in AAE then bring that into Premiere to cut down on your render times in editing? If it was me anyway.
      I’m curious to know, what’s the project?

      • Beth

        01.12.2011 at 03:05 Reply

        I’m a super noob to CS5 so I’m going to try to decode what that first and 2nd sentences mean 😉

        The project is for a band – Fools for Rowan. They opened for Evanescence in August. There was a video contest where the winner got to film backstage at the concert with them plus the day before. Here’s the video I made to win the contest:

        Anyway, after filming, we were supposed to make a video to show the 2 days with Fools including the Ev concert…I put together the video in Premiere Pro, then narrated certain parts that needed transitions in a green screen room on Monday. Now I just need to splice in those green screen shots to finish the first 3 sections of the video. But I can’t get what I make in AE to come into PP. Blaaahh. I’m going down to another concert of theirs next weekend – I’d love to have the videos complete by then!

        This is my first time ever making a video in…not iMovie (that’s embarrassing to say). Bottom line…I spend my weekends watching your tutorials trying out your techniques. I have lots of ideas, just don’t know how to make them happen…until I watch your tutorials 🙂

        • ECAbrams

          03.12.2011 at 00:22 Reply

          Lol. Key just means the removal of unwanted parts of the layer making them transparent. So a good/clean/solid/tight key is one that accurately pulls out the desired subject.

          The export with RGB+Alpha is a colour channel option in some export modules in the “render queue” I touch on that a bit in a tutorial I think. I can’t recall but it sounds like a thing I should talk about anyway. It can be helpful.

          But I think for your case the best thing to do is do the full composite inside AAE then export clips to be edited together later, unless that’s not really in keeping with the timeline.

          Sounds like you’re off to a great start with your video makery though. Don’t ever be embarrassed to be working off consumer tools. My first short films were cut on a VHS suite, then Windows Movie Maker was considered an upgrade. Also it gives you really nerdy street cred to use low end apps with high end results.

          Cheers and I’m glad you enjoy my stuff 🙂

  • Beth

    05.12.2011 at 11:29 Reply

    Hey EC! I responded on Friday afternoon but sometimes my internet is a whore and says it delivers the message when really it doesn’t. So unclassy.

    Ok so I figured out how to bring in the effects. When the clip is in Premiere Pro, right click on the clip in the timeline and click on Replace with After Effects Composition. Then it opens After Effects, asks you to save, then as soon as you apply Keylight in After Effects, it links it into the Premiere project. However, if you’re applying transitions at all, you can’t do it after you’ve linked the composition, it doesn’t let you increase the clip length or apply transitions without it getting all cray cray. So anyway, that’s the solution…………… know……for your knowledge bank, in case you ever need it 🙂

    In other news, when I export the video in high quality (only in high quality, not crappy quality) it appears to be flickering? After I made the background transparent, I put a picture behind me in Premiere so it looks like I’m chillin’ in a recording studio (cuz why wouldn’t I), but the picture flickers and so does part of my jacket. I messed with some settings to figure out how to make the picture stop flickering. But my jacket – I think some of the green from the room was reflecting onto my jacket so when it’s exported, it looks like it’s crackling? Are there any tricks to possibly fix this, oracle? I uploaded a 10 second clip to YouTube to show you and it’s wayyyy muted on there but playing in quicktime it’s really noticeable. Maximize the clip on your screen and look specifically at the arms of my jacket. What the F is that?

    And yes…I very much enjoy your videos – keep being funny and good at what you do, and I’ll keep watching 🙂 also, thanks for the confidence boost – that actually makes me feel better about only having edited in iMovie haha. good. good talk. team on 3.

    • ECAbrams

      06.12.2011 at 01:06 Reply

      Ah the old crackling problem. Called artifacts. They’re a result of keylight’s spill suppression. So in Keylight there’s an option for how it suppresses the spill. By default it’s soft colour I think? You can turn that to Hard Colour to fix some up. But the big cause is from the clip black and clip white being too far apart and allowing the key to add transparency to ambiguous areas just enough to have the spill suppression kick in and then you get that crawling. Also you can blur the matte a little to soften the issue, then matte choke the edges to firm that up again. It’s a lot of give and take to get the best key. But in general if you have the Clip Black and Clip White tightened down, Soft Colour for the Replace Method, and SCreen Pre-Blur on there you should get through. Now I can see up in the vignette area of the frame the same stuff going on so you might want to do a garbage matte to reduce the amount of it you have to think about fixing.

      The big way to cehck it is to RAM preview in 100 and zoom in with the preview of keylight set to Screen Matte and you should see the crawlies in the white areas as little grey flecks.

      Another cause of those is from grain in the clean plate. The grain is caused by the ISO usually and it’s a chronic problem of lighting on game day. But that’s a real bitch to take out in post so the things for the keylight are your safest options. Now if you have kept the grain on your foreground you’ll want to induce some into the BG plate. And then CC both to match lighting conditions between the photo and the foreground subject. But that’s really not related to the questions I just realized.

      1 2 3 TEAM! We turn into Voltron now?

      • Beth

        06.12.2011 at 21:25 Reply

        Oh mylanta. My brain nearly started sizzling when I read your reply. You know so much and it all comes pouring out through your fingertips and I love it! 🙂 I’ve seriously learned so much just from this comment thread alone. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

        I put the clip black at 24, and the clip white at 54…I didn’t try that before b/c I know you said to keep clip black low and clip white high so I thought anything to the contrary would make my video dumb looking. And you and I are both not fans of dumb looking things. But instead, it fixed it! Woohoo! So I wrote down the levels, applied them to everything, and cruised right through the video. The next 2 sections of the vid should be relatively easy now that I know what to do.

        I can’t wait to start applying some of your other tuts to my vids….that sounds dirty (?). But like the cool intros, and the swinging text. And the one where you did the graphics with the words for world of Tim – I want to try to incorporate them into upcoming projects as I learn. You know what would be cool? If you took a commercial and decoded how they did it. Idk how much work that involves, if you want to do it, or if it’s even remotely interesting to others but I watch commercials all the time and think…”hmm, now how did they do that?” 🙂 and actually, one of my favorite things to watch (besides crime shows) is the DVD on TV by Fox where they show you how the movie was made. loooooove.

        Anyways, cheers to you and your fantastically awesome Canadian mind. Thanks again 🙂

        • ECAbrams

          08.12.2011 at 00:46 Reply

          No worries. Glad I could help.

          The only issue I might have with deconstructing material is the material I take apart I don’t own the rights to redistribute. So in a classroom setting I’m fine to do that at my local college but for posting up on Youtube I might be setting myself up for a copyright slap. I do however like rubbing it in other VFX maker’s face when I expose their magic tricks. The doves were in your coat the whole time A holes!

          Anywhoo one note on the clip white/black the generally if they’re outside 50 points of each other you’re safe. So 1-50 or 25-75 and so on. As that span gets shorter you’re increasing the contrast in the matte. The most natural matte will have a complete range of white to black and all points in between. The most unnatural matte therefore has only 2, a polarized 100% black vs 100% white. It’s basically like applying a levels adjustment to a B&W photo and crushing the whites and blacks. It’s a bit advanced to go into in a tutorial but I’m always happy to expand on the ideas should folks have quandaries.

          You ever have any questions about the AAE or video in general don’t hesitate to ask 🙂

  • Beth

    27.12.2011 at 16:53 Reply

    What’s up EC! Hope you’re having a fun holiday time. Yeah, I see what you’re saying about the copyright stuff but even not using their footage or anything – just the actual concepts, are you allowed to do that? I’m pretty sure I’d love it if you shoved it in their face that you know where the doves come from too b/c that means I get to learn more how-to’s 🙂 Just curiouso.

    In other news, have you seen this?

    It reminds me of something you’d do haha 🙂

    • ECAbrams

      23.01.2012 at 12:27 Reply

      That guy in the video even sounds a little like me. It’s like watching something I just haven’t done yet… like a video from future Evan. Creepy.

  • Beth

    24.01.2012 at 02:39 Reply

    Hahaha right?! That’s what I thought! I just feel like you’d be the guy who tried to get a talking beaver out of the road who’s saying “welcome to Canada” to everyone 🙂

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