FCP 7: Chroma-key Cookbook

[ In my Final Cut Pro 7 classes, I often provide single-page “Cookbooks” to help master a common problem. Here are the instructions I provide on creating a chroma-key (or green-screen key)  in Final Cut Pro 7. ]


FCP 7 now includes the Primatte RT filter – which is a powerful keyer for most common keying applications. For keys with translucent gauzes, see-through objects like water in a glass, or cast shadows, the use of a third-party keyer is advised.

  1. In Final Cut Pro, put the background clip in the Timeline on V1 and the foreground (green-screen) clip on V2. Put your playhead on top of the two clips and select the V2 clip.
  2. Apply Effects > Video Filters > Key > Primatte RT and double-click the clip to load it into the Viewer, click the Filters tab.
  3. In the Filters tab set the top popup to Foreground, then use the eyedropper to select a representative color of your chroma-key background to select the color you want to remove. Click the background near the face, but avoid hair and skin.
  4. The goal of a clean key is to make the foreground solid white and the background solid black. In the Filters tab set the top popup to Matte.
  5. In the Filters tab slide the Noise Reduction slider to 0.
  6. In the Filters tab slide the Matte Density slider slowly to the left until the foreground you want to retain goes solid white, indicating foreground opacity. Watch to be sure all shadows in the body are solid white.
  7. In the Filters tab slide the Noise Reduction slider slowly to the right until the background you want to make transparent goes solid black, indicating a transparent background. The value of this slider is always less than the Matte Density slider.
  8. In the Filters tab set the top popup to Processed Foreground.
  9. In the Filters tab adjust Spill Suppression until the color of the foreground clip looks normal. Use the Vectorscope to accurately set skin tones.
  10. Done.

Click here for an illustrated article on chroma-key in FCP 7.

Click here for a video tutorial on chroma-key in Final Cut Pro 7.

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2 Responses to FCP 7: Chroma-key Cookbook

  1. Bob Demers says:

    Love the one page tip. It’s great that Primatte Rt is now part of FCP7, I love it.

    Just a note, make sure to color correct your composition elements prior to keying. Goes a long way to assuring a clean key, and affords the opportunity to match background and foreground color and contrast. Not so easy after the fact…



    • Larry Jordan says:


      I don’t always recommend color correcting before keying. Many times, I find it easier to key first, then color correct. Except, um, when it doesn’t work, then I reverse the process. These are hard decisions.


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