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Tech Tip Now: Three novice steps to being a chromakey video expert

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Whether you want to enhance your videos for teaching, artistic, or family use, there’s never been an easier time to use chromakeying than today. Some YouTube video editing program lessons, however, appear to miss at least one obvious step, thus stifling the immediate inclusion of this creative video background effect.

One, if you’re new to the process know it dates back more than 75 years. Essentially, a solid green or blue background is placed behind the subjects being filmed. During the editing process, this stable colored background allows software to trace around the subjects.

Once the background has been cutout, millions of images or other videos can be placed underneath, providing a vivid facade. For example, the editor can make dancing actors seem like they’re on a tropical island or in another instance doing a standup comedy club routine, without having to shoot on location.

Two, almost any solid material can be used as the chromakey backdrops including a blanket, a piece of heavy fabric, and numerous chromakey kits including stands are available online. These range from $100 to $300.00. When planning the shoot, plan to hang the backdrop as uniform as possible behind the subjects.

A simple blanket hung on a wall with thumbtacks works well. Just be sure lighting does not create backdrop shadows that might create a challenge for the editing software and yourself. Consider shooting the same scene from more than one angle just in case.

Three, most affordable editing software allows for the chromakey affect. For the novice, I recommend Corel Visual Studio and for those who want to immediately advance EDIUS Neo is a good choice. Like any editing program you’ll have to import the chromakey segment into your program library. You may want to enhance it for better color or pre-edit in and out points.

The step that several YouTube chromakey lessons is missing regards where to find the chromakey menu. The menu or chromakey choices may not be available until the segment is dragged onto the timeline and then clicked on to awaken the hidden menu, that’s it! It’s a small, but often overlooked step especially when the novice wants to immediately create a dynamic chromakey affect.

Select the image(s) or video(s) you want to be in the background, drag and drop them to another concurrent portion of the timeline, then enable the appropriate green or blue color that represents your background. This may require you to touch the sequence screen with a colored digital eye dropper and magically the selected background and segment you filmed will merge. Now you’re an expert videographer!


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