Thoughts on Improving Green Screen Results

Posted on by Larry

This article was first published in the August, 2008, issue of
Larry’s Final Cut Pro Newsletter. Click here to subscribe. ]

Ed Yost started me thinking about green screens in an email he wrote me a few months ago. Based on his comments, I began researching the topic and just finished recording an entire title on working with green screens in Final Cut Studio for

It should be out around the beginning of September or so.

As I was working on the title, I learned several things that I want to share with you.

Not all keyers work the same

The chroma-keyer in Final Cut Pro hasn’t been updated since at least version 3. It was OK then, it is quite often not adequate now. If you can get an acceptable key, please use it. If not, you have options, some free and some not.

The best chroma-keyer in Motion is the Primatte RT filter.

The best way to create an effect is to build the effect in Final Cut Pro, then send the green screen clip to Motion for keying.

There are a number of really good chroma-keyers that you can buy that work with both Motion and Final Cut. For the training, I tested three:

VKey is inexpensive, about $50, and often does better keys than the Primatte RT keyer shipped with Motion. But, its interface is awkward and takes tweaking to get a good key with mediocre material.

dvMatte Blast/Pro creates a great key very quickly, but it does not handle shadows well and it has a real problem in HD when you try to use it with a matte to get rid of garbage in the frame. However, when you don’t need mattes or to project shadows on your inserted background, it’s a great choice.

Primatte Keyer RT is the most expensive of the three, but it does a better job of keying hair and projecting shadows than the others. (By projecting shadows I mean that the shadows cast by a foreground object on a green/blue screen can be transfered so that they are cast on the new background (say a brick wall) in the key. It is a very cool effect.)

I’ll have training on how all these keyers work in my upcoming videos.


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