The Best Tips For Keying Hair on a Green Screen

Step up your green screen game. 

In the indie world, the perfect chroma key is about as elusive as union day rates. But using a green screen (or blue screen) isn't hard at all, and No Film School has a ton of resources at your disposal to teach you how to use it.

However, an area of green screen work that has always been tedious is keying hair. It can be hard to preserve every single strand, especially if they are light in color. While After Effects introduced Key Cleaner and Advanced Spill Suppressor several years ago, which helped to alleviate many of the problems people ran into when pulling a key, it's not always perfect. 

Film Riot dives into several great tips to make keying hair that much easier. Check it out. 

It starts with lighting 

Making sure you have a smooth, evenly lit set will start you off on the right foot. However, if you still run into issues on the edges of the frame, as Ryan Connolly points out, you can grab a pen tool in Adobe After Effects and draw a mask around the talent. Doing so allows you to key inside the area of the mask. Then the next step is to create keyframes for the masked area that match your talent's movement and then create a mask for the body and a second mask for the hair. 

Create a second hair mask 

By creating a second mask for the hair only, you can fine-tune the settings of the look. In the effects Keylight menu, you key the green screen using the color picker and then tune Green Screen Gain and Balance, as well as the Screen Pre-Blur to dial it in. When keying hair or glass using the Screen Matte setting, you'll want to see shades of grey for transparency. Then by adjusting the Clip White and Clip Black, you can tune the detail of how much hair is present.

Once you find the settings that work for your clip, you can add the background and adjust it to fit the footage for a much better result. 

Have any tips for keying hair? Let us know in the comments below.      

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