What Is Chroma Key?

Visual FX is not just for Hollywood blockbusters. Though it takes quite a bit of practice and the right tools to pull it off with believable results, there are ways to work with visual FX on the cheap. One of these is chroma key. So. What is chroma key?

Chroma keying is a technique used to composite (layer) two images or video streams together based on color hues. Commonly referred to as green screen. Now, before you get excited about that fact that you can set up and implement the use of green screens on your own, adding a whole new dimension to your low-budget short film sci-fi vision, please hear our words of caution: Improper use of green screen will positively ruin your film. Use it sparingly – or get a professional involved – if this is a project you want to go places. But hey, if you’re just playing around, do just that. Play around. Have fun.

I found a helpful introductory video that explains how to get started with green screen. At about 7 minutes in it turns into a sales pitch, so go ahead and spend those last three minutes doing something else:

And once you’ve got your setup, your footage and your free weekend to mess around with all this stuff, open up your Mac and get to work. Here’s how you edit – just the very basics – in iMovie:

h/t MaddogTheRobot and Green Screen Systems

Mads Black

About Mads Black

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Mads is a Scandinavian-born, Los Angeles-based actor and aspiring film maker. He's dabbled in stunt driving (no one got hurt) and once rescued a baby bunny from his garage.

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