Home Movie Making Tutorials for Beginners -
Video Editing with Corel VideoStudio Pro X2

Chroma Key Tutorial

CONTENTS

Home
(Introduction to the site.)

Tutorials Page 1
(Topics: Setting Preferences, Trimming videos, Adjusting audios, Audio fade-in fade-out, Downloading videos from camcorder to computer, Buttons in the Option Panel of the Edit Step.)

Tutorials Page 2
(Topics: Doing PIP, Adding Transition Effects, Adding and Animating Titles, Ripple Editing, Title Safe Area.)

Tutorials Page 3
(Topics: Adding Special Effects to your video, Adding Music/Audio to your video, Saving your project as a Video File, Uploading your video to YouTube.)

Examples
(See videos using Special Effects, Painting Creator, and Chroma Key.)

Useful Tips
(Discussion includes some Dos and Don'ts, Copyright issues involving music, Using YouTube's AudioSwap feature.)

Chromakey
(Chromakey written tutorial. Includes suggestions for buying the right equipment at affordable prices.)

DVD Burning
(Written tutorial on how to burn DVDs using Corel. Includes instructions on how to add chapters.)

Painting Creator
(Show originality by adding animated drawings and writings on your videos. Everything you need to know is discussed in this chapter.)

Slideshow
(Corel's Movie Wizard can create an impressive slideshow quickly for you. This chapter tells you how to use the Movie Wizard.)

YouTube HelpNEW
(Answers to all common and not so common questions relating to YouTube.)

See all my videos I have uploaded to YouTube here. Please consider subscribing to my channel to see all my future creations.

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Create magic in your
video with chroma key.

Please take a look at my latest site launched on Dec. 23, 2011. It is called Shoban's India Page. It has everything Indian. NEW

We have learnt basic video editing in Tutorial 1, Tutorial 2, and Tutorial 3. Are you ready to go one step farther to make your video more fun, more interesting, and better than most people who upload to YouTube? If you are ready, I am ready to tell you one more interesting thing that you can use while editing your videos to make them standout.

In this section, I shall tell you how to do chroma key to produce some magical (and sometimes unreal) effects in your videos. It is like trick photography done on a video clip. By using chroma key technique you can show the world that you were physically present in a place where you have actually never been to. Theoretically, you can produce a video showing you were also present at President Obama's State Dinner along with the Salahi couple! Interested in knowing how to do it? Let's get started.

First you need to know what exactly is chroma key (also spelt as chroma-key or chromakey)? Chromakeying means you first produce a Picture-in-Picture (PIP), and then using the editing software (I'll show you how to do it with Corel VideoStudio Pro X2) you make the background of the superimposed image (or second image) transparent so that the subject of the second image merges with the first image completely giving the illusion that the subject of the second image was present where the first image was shot! Just a hint in advance - the second image or video need to be shot with a clean, solid, one color background - preferably green or blue. More on this in a minute. By the way, the words greenscreen or bluescreen are often synonymously used for chroma key.

A picture is worth a thousand words. If you are still not sure what is chromakey technique, look at the following pictures:

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Screenshot #1

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Screenshot #2

chromakey, chroma key, chromakey tutorial, chroma key tutorial, what is chromakey, what is chroma key. chromakeying, how to chromakey
Screenshot #3

chromakey, chroma key, chromakey tutorial, chroma key tutorial, what is chromakey, what is chroma key. chromakeying, how to chromakey
Screenshot #4

I began with a picture (Screenshot #1). Then I chose a special picture of mine which had a clean, solid, one color background - solid green in this case (Screenshot #2), and superimposed this picture on the first picture (PIP) and positioned it where I like it (Screenshot #3). Then I applied chroma key (see below how I did it) to get the final picture (Screenshot #4). In reality, I was nowhere near the half-naked dancing girls! (I wish I were.)

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Here is how to do chroma key in Corel VideoStudio Pro X2: After completing step 3 (Screenshot #3) above, click on Mask & Chroma Key in the Edit options panel (see Screenshot #5).

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Screenshot #5

To see the Mask & Chroma Key option as shown above, make sure your video or image on the Overlay Track is highlighted.

As soon as you click on Mask & Chroma Key, you will see the next screen as shown in Screenshot #6.

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Screenshot #6

When you come to this screen, make sure under "Type" dropdown menu Chroma Key is selected (see Screenshot #6). Now just click on the box in front of Apply Overlay Options (see Screenshot #6), and Voila - you have just created chromakey magic! Your preview screen will look like Screenshot #7, instantly. You've done it!

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Screenshot #7

But hold on. Don't get too excited yet. My chroma key magic happened instantly, because my overlay picture had a PERFECTLY SMOOTH AND UNIFORM GREEN BACKGROUND. If your chroma-key magic does not happen instantly, try doing this:

Look at Screenshot #6 again. Do you see the eye-dropper icon next to Similarity? Click on that eye-dropper once. Now click anywhere on the background color of your overlay image or video. If you used a overlay clip of reasonably UNIFORM COLOR, chromakey magic should happen now. If your chroma-key effect does not look totally believable (the background looks uneven or fuzzy), you need to start over again with a new overlay clip having A PERFECTLY SMOOTH AND UNIFORM ONE COLOR BACKGROUND, PREFERABLY GREEN OR BLUE.

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A few points to bear in mind:

  • Chroma key effect can be created using video on video, image on image (as in my above examples), image on video, or video on image. In the last case, the overlay track video should be very short (few seconds duration), and the image duration should be increased so that it matches the duration of the video.

  • Theoretically, the background color of the overlay clip can be any color, but it has to be UNIFORM OR EVEN WITHOUT SPOTS, LINES, BLOTCHES, OR SHADOWS. Since this part is little tricky to achieve in home productions, most people do not even attempt to produce chroma key effect. I myself belonged to this group until recently, but I have discovered with a little ingenuity this is achievable, and I now do it quite often in my video productions.

  • I am really not sure why green or blue background colors are the colors of choice for chromakey. But I have read that these colors are farthest from human skin colors, and that is why they produce more realistic effects. It is true that TV stations (they use chroma key for the weathercast everyday) and movie productions (think of Avatar, Terminator, Jurassic Park, etc.) use green or blue background screens to produce special effects.

  • If you are using green or blue background color to shoot the picture of somebody whom you plan to plant in the middle of a Super Bowl game in your next revolutionary production, make sure that person does not wear any green or blue color in his clothing. Otherwise his clothing will become see-through. I have actually seen a TV Blooper in YouTube, where the weatherman was wearing a tie with big green patterns on it, and people could actually see the weather map through his tie! (Is the astroturf on which Super Bowl is played green? In that case do not use a green screen for your chromakey stunt. Use a blue screen instead. Got the idea?)

  • Corel says you can use any color background for your chromakey shots, including a whitewashed wall. I have cream colored walls in my house and I tried to take chromakey shots with my cream colored wall as background. It did not come out 100%. With my naked eyes the walls look pretty uniform and evenly colored. My guess is the lighting was not perfect. There was probably almost imperceptible shadows on the wall which produced less than 100% perfect results. (See my failed chroma key experiment and how I eventually did it using still images here.)

  • This brings me to the subject of lighting. Commercial productions and video studios use special video lights and place them strategically to achieve best results. This is expensive for a home video producer. Even if you have extra money to invest in buying special lighting equipment, you need technical expertise. But hey, where there is a will there is way! I researched and shopped judiciously and bought the following minimum but effective lighting equipment for my chroma shots from Ebay for under $50! This is not the best of equipments but works for me - I am just a hobbyist, not a professional.

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    Screenshot #8
    My lighting equipment for chromakey shots.
    The two taller lights with umbrellas are to illuminate the subject,
    and the shorter light is to illuminate greenscreen behind
    the subject to hide its creases and wrinkles.

  • For the green background (green works better for digital photography, I am told - but you can also use blue) a lot of people use lots of cheap things like green poster paper, green plastic sheets or tarps, or polyester-cotton green drapes, or similar things. All of these are reflective - they reflect light - and as a result not good for photography. Some people use chromakey green paint. This works pretty good if you are willing to paint a wall of your house with this green paint! The best chroma screens are made of muslin (a soft, 100% cotton material). These are machine washable and do not reflect light and hence best material for photography. They come in various sizes like 6' X 9', 10' X 20', etc. and are usually pretty expensive if you buy them from regular photographic dealers (these are specialty items - not every store carries them). But again, if you are a smart shopper, you can get them at a bargain price from Ebay for about $25 for the 6' X 9' size. Most people have limited space in their house to create a video studio. So although bigger sizes gives you more room for your movie-like chroma shots, I would recommend 6' X 9' size for home use. The question is how do you hang up the cloth as a background? If you have soft walls in your house, the cheapest way is to use green thumbtacks to hang the piece of cloth from the wall temporarily. Or if you can create a clothesline in your room, just hang the cloth with clothespins. But in my house neither is possible. So I bought a light-weight, collapsible and portable frame to hang the chromascreen for under $50 (inclusive of the 6' X 9' greenscreen) - guess from where? Ebay, of course. Look at the picture of my greenscreen and frame below.

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Screenshot #9
My chromascreen or greenscreen with frame.

If you watch my Christmas and New Year in London video in YouTube, you'll see I have used one chroma key video shot in the very last scene. That was shot using my newly acquired chroma key equipment as shown above! By the way, there is one more thing to learn from that video, that is how to make a slideshow totally different and interesting by utilizing the special effects that can be created with Corel VideoStudio Pro X2. If interested, please stay tuned. I shall upload a tutorial on creating good slideshows at this site pretty soon.

Now that you have learnt how to chroma key, why don't you go ahead and add some chroma key effects in your next video project and amaze the world? I have revealed all my chroma key secrets to you.

Sorry, Windows Movie Maker users. You cannot chroma key with it. You need to upgrade yourself to a better video editor such as Corel VideoStudio Pro X2.

Was this article helpful? Please e-mail me. Please write "Chroma Key Tutorial" on the subject line.

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