Video, Editing and Chroma Key (green screen)

Even though I started shooting and editing video some 10 years ago – I can honestly say that I still have a lot to learn.  The “learning” part of my craft has been non-stop.  I continue to learn as technology constantly pushes us all in that direction.  But I love it.  I love raising my bar every chance I get.  And these days, even though the learning curve may be steep in certain aspects of video production – it’s also a lot easier to access information and help than it was 10 years ago.  Again – thanks to the volumes of information online – at the click of a button.

I love the editing process of video production because this is really where I craft the story.  I can get totally lost in the story and how I can mold that in whatever direction I choose in the edit room.  But I’m not a professional editor and I have the utmost respect for what a pro brings to this part of the process.  So I lay down my rough cut – to get the storyline down and then hand it off to a pro to take it to the next level.

I’m editing a recent shoot that was quite challenging on all accounts.  A lot of what was shot, was shot on “green screen”. Green screen or “chroma key” is the process of removing a background color, – green for video – blue for film – so that the “subject” or “object” can be placed into another background in post. There is a lot of info out there on green screens so I won’t go into it in depth, but the biggest thing you need to know is how to properly shoot green screen so you won’t have a major melt down in post – or won’t have to spend a fortune for an editor to clean up your mistakes.  ResidentialExterior_NewTech

A couple of tips for shooting on green screen:

•    Turn off edge enhancements or sharpening in Picture Profiles – in camera menu
•    Create a new Green screen Picture Profile w/o sharpening
•    Keep subject lighting off background
•    Keep background lighting off subject
•    Keep green screen as far away from subject as possible
•    Minimize seams, wrinkles, folds
•    Even out your green screen lighting within 1/2 stop
•    Brightness level should be about one stop under key light on your subject.
•    Light your subject complimentary to your inserted background
•    Don’t use dimmers – changes color temp toward red – not good for keying
•    Create an edge or separation light – keep it subtle!!
•    Watch out for reflective objects and surfaces (CAR SURFACE) that can pick up green screen

So if you’ve successfully shot a good clean composition as described above – then of course you need to put things together in post. Windshield OutsideThis used to be a tedious process and would involve a lot of work in post production.  But thanks to some incredible plug-ins available – you can get a pretty amazing “key” without a lot of hours in the editing room.

I found a product that really helped me out.  DVmatte Blast and DVmatte Pro from These plug-ins will work inside Final Cut Pro as well as Motion.  I chose to work within Final Cut.  I was amazed by not only how easy it was to use but by the price as well.  DVmatte Blast was $99 but I purchased DVmatte Pro for $199 because it gave me more “tweaking” options.  And as always whenever I need to learn a new piece of software – I went to  So instead of laboring with greens screens in post for an entire day – I got the job done in a matter of a couple of hours – and I had a lot of compositions to make.

I love to learn but I also like to lead some sort of a personal life – away from the computer.  And these days – thanks to a little help from my “friends” I’m achieving a nice balance.


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