Just about all of today's digital cameras are capable of recording video. Most are also capable of taking very good quality HD video. But a similar problem arises for most people in that it's not easy to view those video clips. Many would like to combine them to single playable videos, but don't know how. Similarly many others would like to create their own YouTube videos, but also don't fully understand where to start. This site's tutorials are intended to help those people. ONLY FREE SOFTWARE are used in these tutorials. That way, the average person can get started and try what they've learned immediately.


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Sunday, October 14, 2012

"Green Screen" / "Chroma Key" Editing

If this information helps you, please pay it forward, and share this article with others who may be searching for this info.   Your help in sharing will be appreciated, and karma will prevail!

Many people would like to include special effects within their videos.  These may include visual effects such as gunshot flash, explosions, ghostly images, clones, or maybe something simple like your Grandma riding that new roller coaster. 

Such type of video editing implements what is called "Chroma Key" effects.   Software is utilized to remove a particular color, to make it invisible such that a background video or picture can be seen through it.  Any solid background color can be used.  But green or blue are most often used for various reasons.

Green is often used as background for people, as the color green is less popular for clothing, thus less likely to show green invisible spots on the subject's clothing.  It is also the easiest color for software to identify and eliminate.  Blue is also a popular background color as it is easily distinguishable from skin color, and reflects a natural looking light onto foreground objects.  But really overall any color can be used.  Just make sure that your foreground object does not contain that color.  And here's a quick tutorial showing how to do chroma key editing using the freeware program VSDC. 

Chroma Key Editing with VSDC Free Video Editor
This video is in HD.  Click "Full Screen" in lower right corner.

Note that VSDC downloader will suggest installing additional bundled software along with VSDC.  This is why VSDC is free. Carefully read those installation screens and make sure to uncheck or decline any software that doesn't interest you (probably all). 
(VSDC download link here). 

YouTube is a great place to find green screen effects to include in your videos.  Search in YouTube for "Green Screen Effects".  Two particular channels that are very prolific in producing free special effects for YouTube viewers are Best Green Screen, and kanadaka.  Just try not to go overboard with the special effects now that you know how to do chroma keying (it will be hard not to).  ;-)

Action Meadow (all effects from YouTube)
This video is in HD.  Click "Full Screen" in lower right corner.

And here's a great greenscreen tutorial.  The making of "Greenscreen Grandmas".  Thanks Brian, this is a classic!

And here's the finished result.   Here we go, WOOOOOOO!:


  1. Please comment on your experience or needs for video editing. I use such input for future blog posts. Also use the comments to contact me, as I read each and every comment. If I don't reply, that means I don't know the answer to your particular question, and hopefully one of the other readers can answer it.

  2. i would like to know how to change the background in VSDC video editor.

  3. this is another editor i should collect for i have not yet tried chroma key in video. good stuff dude!

  4. Awesome - thanks for the tips. Now just to find a good chroma green screen to use for filming...

    1. Consider a solid color bedsheet. It doesn't have to be green, just any color other than your clothing color. Another option is buy several colored poster boards from Wal-Mart or your local dollar store, and tape them together. For even more options, go on YouTube and search cheap green screen.

  5. My suggestions on how to develop this blog resource:
    Like many people who found you, I trawled through way too many 'out of date' youtube vids, that at best were frustrating, and at worst, an entire waste of time.

    I finally found your HD 'flying saucer' insertion, that showed clearly what might be readily achieved with 'start-up' free software... and hence why I am here, with VSDC loaded onto my XP system.

    So, what is motivating people, when they search for video editing software?

    I believe your current poll could be augmented with one that is defined by the creative area that people wish to pursue.

    A starter suggestion might be:
    A) Cutting & Editing, with transitions and insertion of text, images, and video
    ........eg. Holiday, Headcam, Documentary footage

    B) Speak to camera video blog/review, with inserted background (moving or static)
    ........eg. News presenter with flatscreen monitor or window in background

    C) Dynamic video where foreground interacts with the background (a la flying saucer)
    ........eg. Video drama

    D) Special FX - foreground interacting with background, interacting with graphical effects

    E) Other

    What 'Other' might be, I don't know... perhaps members of the community might be able to add to this debate.

    However, the 4 primary elements, do seem to provide a gently escalating learning curve, whilst allowing people to pause their learning, in order to concentrate on their core video project.

    People will likely navigate to their area of interest, where they will contribute the most, because that's what they'll be thinking about, and experimenting with.

    For example; C) & D) might be intellectually interesting to me, but I know I'm NOT gonna be doing drama.
    A) is probably relevant to everybody, but for me it is primarily B)... attempting to create a studio/office better than the studio/office that I actually have, with footage apparently appearing on the monitor, which can then 'zoom transition' to fill the screen.

    For my 15yr old son, I guess it would be A) & D) ..... documentary footage, with lazer guns and bombs exploding everywhere LOL.

    From what I've seen, there is definitely a gap in the market for a site such as described

    My Project so far:
    Camera: Logitech HD Pro C920
    Dell Vostro 420
    Core2 Quad CPU Q9400 @ 2.66GHz
    3.GB Ram
    Windows XP SP3
    I have a spare room 3m x 4m (3m end to hang the sheet's)
    A really nice antique table 1.2m x 1.2m (but perhaps far too shiny)

    I need lighting - I believe at least two to light the screen, and at least 2 to light 'me'.
    I wear specs, and have noticed the problem of reflection.
    Perhaps contact lenses are the way to go.

    I would be very interested to hear of peoples experiences with lighting, ideally of the low cost variety ie. not expensive studio lighting.
    Ideas on umbrella reflectors.

    I saw this link:

    and this link shows how the face changes with different lighting effects

    However, I was struggling for the correct google search prase that brings me to lots of sites telling me how to setup a DIY studio.

    Having googled everything to do with lights and lamps, video, film, DIY and homemade, I tried Youtube, and 'video lighting' brought up a huge array :)

    It looks like I need to find a good source of cheap 'stands'.

    Hopefully I'll be able to start experimenting within a week.

    1. Thanks for your input. Google search results tend more and more to be influenced not by content, but by aggressive search engine optimization. Also Google penalizes blog sites. Hence, your lengthy search to arrive at what you really were looking for. YouTube is somewhat less influenced by SEO campaigns. As such, I tend to use my instructional videos as the means to guide people to my site. But I will take your recommendations to heart, and do plan to update the polls to help understand what people would like to see on this blog.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Tool-Dude, don't purchase anything special. Use whatever may be available at home. Another option is cheap green or blue poster board from the local dollar store. Just tape them together.

    2. Too late.

      I just posted below, and the screen re-loaded to display your post.

      The thing is:

      1. None of the bed sheets actually came close to matching the standard chroma key green.
      I realise this is not mission critical, but it was still gonna cost me €20 for a single bed sheet.

      2. I also needed to buy at least 3 lights, and a method of mounting the lights.
      I'd already had a look around local hardware stores, and noted costs, and even a cheap inappropriate setup was still gonna set me back around €70, and still not have a soft-light setup.
      (I'm based in the South of France, and we don't have eye-popping hardware stores like in the UK or the US)

      3. I was concerned with putting in a lot of effort, time, and fuel..... paying a chunk of money, and not being satisfied; and then forking out for the better kit.

      4. Using the Ebay route, and assembling the kit involves transport costs. Plus, the individual items carry a higher margin, as compared to a full kit.
      By buying a full studio setup, one can get a reasonable deal.

      Factor in the fuel costs, and the add on costs to get the right bulbs and soft light and.....

      I figured the deal on offer was acceptable.

      £141 delivered to my door.
      Paypal stuffed me for €6 in the exchange (the bar-stewardesses), but that's paypal these days.
      It used to be the case that exchange rates were done at spot value, but apparently not anymore.

      So my paypal account is now empty, but 'you do' get a chance to critique the deal.

      What do you think of the kit, and the value for money?


  7. I was going to buy a big bed sheet, when I realised that a full studio kit was not overly expensive.

    Here is what I've ordered:

    I guess the black background could be useful for skype calls.
    I'm guessing that chroma key work is only good for video, rather than live skype calls.

    Hopefully the 3 box soft lights will be enough.
    There was a cheaper option involving umbrella lights, but I figured I should go for the 2 stands and boom, and then build from what should be reasonable base.

    I may need to rotate the green screen, so it is 3m wide, by 1.8m drop.
    The letterbox format of HD and the wide angle of the C920 may make this a necessity.

    I should have it by next Monday, 26th August 2013 :)

    1. Recommend that you Google "thefrugalfilmaker" and visit his blog and YouTube pages. You'll be amazed what can be done with a few dollars of PVC :)

  8. Thanks for the tutorials, they have helped me sooo much

  9. Unfortunately, I would not recommend this software to anyone. It is very very difficult to use, their support faqs are limited information and you will spend hours upon hours researching for forums to go to each step. In my case, it took me months of trying to use this software only to learn that it cannot do a simple task as remove clips from a video and make clips into a single video. Some men robbed my son, then had the audacity to gather up clips of themselves from people taping it and then hid the clips into a video and put the video onto youtube. I am obsessed with getting these clips into very clear and out of the video youtube. This software wasted many precious months of my time.

  10. I am referring to VSDC free video editor.

  11. Thanks for sharing such a nice article. I love your writing. Your idea is mind blowing that's why i would like to appreciate your work.

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Please comment on your experience or needs for video editing. I use such input for future blog posts. Also use the comments to contact me, as I read each and every comment. If I don't reply, that means I don't know the answer to your particular question, and hopefully one of the other readers can answer it.