Do you know what the Jurassic Park series and Games of Thrones have in common? No, I am not talking about the giant flying reptiles, and besides, Game of Thrones clearly had fire-spurting dragons. 

Anyways, it was not what flying creature the two had but how they were created- Green screens! Yes, you read that right. Those scary, giant beasts were nothing but the result of visual effects applied on a basic green screen. 

Well, the green screen video editing is an incredible cinematic technique that has helped filmmakers create mind-blowing visual effects (VFX) that look incredibly realistic. Everything from dragons exhaling fire or ice, for that matter, to giant anacondas eating humans, everything is possible- all thanks to the magic of the green screen.

Moving forward, now that the technology is no longer a privilege of filmmakers only, you can also add that over-the-top charm to your videos! And let me tell you, you certainly won't require fancy equipment or budgets for that; you can do it at absolutely no cost. How?

Keep reading, and you'll find the best way to bring your ideas to life using Adobe After Effects, and that too without spending a dime.

What is a Green Screen?

Well, when I say “green screen,” I  literally mean any surface evenly coated with a green cloth or uniformly painted green wall. 

Green Screen helps combine two unrelated things and eventually presents a new scene that complements each other purely. So, it gives the result we may require. 

Green screen video editing involves adding visual effects in front of a solid color. Then, by digitally eliminating or “keying out” that color, you can drop that scene onto any background of your choice in post-production. 

Why use a Green Screen?

For starters, it doesn't match any natural skin tone or hair color, for that matter, so it becomes pretty easy to remove without disturbing anything in the foreground. 

Besides providing clarity and a finished look, it's pure work of personalized, customized, compelling, engaging, economical, and above all, well connected with viewers

Green Screen editing in After Effects

First things first, you need excellent footage against the green screen. Then, for best results, ensure that the green screen is uniformly lit, without any shadows or creases that will disrupt the keying. Once you have your composition with your subject contrasting flawlessly with a flat green background, you can now import it into Adobe After Effects.

Now, let's move on to editing green screen video backgrounds.

Step 1: Import Footage

  • Create a composition in After Effects, and insert your green screen footage in the composition.

Step 2: Mark out Garbage Areas

  • In case your green screen doesn’t entirely cover the background, you can use the Pen Tool to create a Mask around your subject to isolate it
  • You may either do this before or after you apply the keying preset.
  • Simply draw an outline around your subject and close the mask by choosing the first mask point.

Step 3: Apply the Keylight Effect

  • The Key light effect is used for green screen removal. The Key light is a chroma keyer that allows you to select any color and make it transparent. This is the initial step in any green screen replacement.
  • For Screen Color, select the eyedropper button in the Key light effect and select a portion of your green Screen close to your subject.
  • Now, switch the view setting to Screen Matte. This will show a black, white, and grey matte view of your footage.
  • Now, you can toggle the Transparency Grid to check if the background has been completely removed. Besides, you can also play back your footage directly to see if there's any unwanted noise in the composition. If there is, keep on adjusting the Screen Matte settings.
  • Now you can start refining your color key. Navigate to the dropdown menu titled Screen Matte. There, you will find a few adjustable settings.

For instance, here are a few tips for adjusting them:

  • Bump up ‘Clip Black' to eliminate any shadow noise, but don't push it beyond 15.
  • Decrease ‘Clip White', by a few points; don't go much below 85.
  • Adjust ‘Screen Shrink/Grow' only if necessary.
  • Bring ‘Screen Despot White' up just a little; 0 – 5 should be great. Make sure to keep a check on the edges of your subject.

Step 4: Add a Background

  • Now, it's time to add a background. 
  • To add a background to your composition, you simply need to drag and drop it right below your green screen footage in the composition.
  • You can go for a bright, textured, gradient, light, or solid high contrast background; it all depends on your preference.
  • Add camera effect, go to camera property, and turn on the depth of field.
  • Nonetheless, you can still apply color correction adjustments to your subject without affecting your key.

Viola, see how the magic happens!

Wrapping Up

Green screens are incredible tools that offer you complete flexibility with your footage. With After Effects, you can quickly replace green screens with exciting backgrounds, using the built-in After Effects green screen replacement presets.

Now that you know how to edit green screen video backgrounds in After Effects, you no longer need to invest a fortune making the most of it.

Struggling for the perfect video for your brand? Well, drop in for video editing, explainer video production, whiteboard animation, and 2d character animation video services.

If you have any queries, do ask

Editor: Richa Sharma

Frequently Asked Questions

Editing on a green screen is relatively easy, primarily because of its uniform color and low likelihood of matching the subject. When shooting on a green screen, you can replace the green background with any desired background during the post-production process using video editing software. This technique, known as chroma keying, allows for seamless integration of subjects into different environments or scenes, making it a popular choice in the film and television industry.

The color code for green screen is typically RGB(0, 255, 0) or #00FF00 in hexadecimal. This specific shade of green is chosen because it is easily distinguishable from most other colors and complements the color of human skin, making it an ideal choice for chroma keying.

The primary difference between a blue screen and a green screen lies in the color used for background replacement. Both serve the same purpose of isolating and replacing backgrounds during video editing. Blue screens are used when the subject contains green elements, while green screens are preferable when there are blue elements. The choice between them depends on the specific needs of a production and the colors present in the subjects and props.

Keying in video editing, often referred to as chroma keying or green screen keying, is a technique that allows editors to replace a specific color (usually green or blue) in a video with another image or video. This process involves selecting and isolating the color, making it transparent, and then overlaying a new background behind the subject. Keying is a fundamental tool for creating special effects, compositing scenes, and seamlessly integrating subjects into different environments in the world of film and video production.