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4 Tutorials to Help You Improve Your Green Screen Skills

We’ve all seen it: mismatched subject and background lighting, dancing edge pixels, and color spill; some of the hallmarks of a bad green screen composite. There are multiple factors to consider for a chroma key shot in preproduction, on set, and in post, and in the following videos Richard Harrington will take you through those factors and show you how to pull a good key and produce a believable composite.

Let’s start with a refresher on the basics:

This webinar covers a variety of topics, including lighting, camera, various techniques for setting up your background plate, and the keying plug-in zMatte.

In the previous video, Richard touched upon making depth mattes in Photoshop. Here he discusses the technique in greater detail.

And for those of you that prefer using Final Cut Pro X for your keying:

What do you think of these techniques and tips for achieving a better green screen shot? And what techniques have you found useful in your own green screen work?



We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

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  • on 01.25.13 @ 10:11AM

    Wow, this is an incredibly thorough post! The last time I did any greenscreen shooting was for my final project in school, and that was over 5 years ago, so this will be a valuable refresher since I intend to use it more in the coming year.

  • I love how Richard Herrington looks through the view finder and not the LCD screen to set his shot and then the title “DSLR Video Skills” kicks in. Priceless visual typo.

    • if this were facebook i would like this comment!!

    • That’s how I shoot. I often use the viewfinder as I can see the meters to check exposure. I then switch over to LiveView after and roll video. Its difficult to see all of those items without exiting LiveView, so I use the camera tech before kicking into video.

  • How hilarious, how ugly is the lighting on the first video, no doubt skilled people we have there !

    • Aren’t you snarky. We light even and flat for maximum flexibility in post. I can then relight digitally during the composite. But hey.. what do I know…. too bad its worked for years and plenty of clients pay for it.

      • Shhhh, don’t tell him about shooting flat, he might learn something…..

        Great video!

        • Richard Harrington on 02.4.13 @ 1:59PM

          Hah.. Very true.

          • Gary Simmons on 02.7.13 @ 9:58PM

            I have something to say to dont. How about don.t speak until I see you working and doing something . What have you done dont? This was as stated the basics not an advanced class give a student to many things to learn at one time and they learn nothing. Richard I think you do a great job keep it up at least we all know you have a job.

    • You’re kiddin right? Right above the video it states, ” Lets start with a refresher on the basics.” Besides, the talent had a text book Rembrandt. Too bright? Because the exposure is proper, ease down on the levels in post, et voila! Also when showing the world about how to properly light a GS and talent, It needs to be well lit. Creative and mysterious lighting would be more appropriate for a video exploring lighting design. But you cannot do that on GS without first knowing and being able to apply the basics properly.

    • What is your problem? The lighting is pretty much perfect standard interview lighting.
      It is not special (it is not supposed to be, as explained in the video) but if you call this “ugly”, I would certainly not let YOU light anything for my productions!

  • soulofsound on 02.1.13 @ 6:33AM

    Well laid out imo. This is essential info. I learnt a lot from it. Thx.

  • Good tutorial on green screens!

    I think you could have stressed more that using Keylight will very much make your life easier. I am using it regularly as a seperate plugin in FCP 7 (it is available for different NLEs by the Foundry).
    I have been trying a lot of keying software and none was as good as keylight.

    Even with highly compressed 4:2:0 footage keylight is able to be on par with highly expensive studio vision mixers (we are talking 50-100K just for the mixer) that work with uncompressed SDI signals from studio cameras. So your green screen interviews can look just as great as what CNN or BBC record in their studios, even though your whole equipment cost less than one of the buttons on their vision mixers ;)

    Although the keyer in the new Apple Motion is pretty good as well, keylight is still the best in my opinion.
    I would love to try it on RAW 4:2:2 or even 4:4:4 material. With a source like that, I don’t think there is anything you can’t do with keylight!