Ten Tips for a better Chromakey

One - Buy a darker background
When buying your material for your Chromakey Background, whether it's paint or cloth, buy one or two shades darker than a "True Blue" or "True Green". Since you are usually putting lights on your background, you will find out that the lights wash out your background and you find it suddenly too light for a good Chromkey.

Two - Try Shooting Outdoors
The Sun (especially on an overcast day) is the world's biggest Soft Light. If you want a nice even and evenly lit background for keying, try to put your ChromaKey background outside.

Three - Try some Backlighting
In most cases, Chromakeying is done inside. If you are able to place a light source behind your Chromakey Background (sorry, this will only work with a pretty evely transparent cloth material), you will find a nice even background with no shadows.

Four - Light Background and Source Independently
Light your background and your subject individually to avoid shadows

Five - Soften your lights
That doesn't mean turn them down but rather try to use wax paper in front of your lights or bouce your lights off an umbrella (the special photo kind) or white sheet. A softer light means less shadows.

Six - Use RGB Key Instead
Most Non-Linear edit systems expect an absolutley perfectly even background for good results when using the "Green Screen" or "Blue Screen" Chromakey option. Try RGB Key or Color Key where you can select the color you want to key on with a color picker.

Seven - Blue Better than Green?
The ancient question is, which key color is better, Blue or Green. In most cases, you will find Blue working better since there is much more green content in skin color than blue content

Eight - Buy an old real time keyer.
These days, you can find old chromakey units for very cheap. TV Stations are discarding their old Composite keyers and you can pick them up at auctions or from equipment brokers. These units are Composite only so you may not like the quality for your final product but they can be a great tool to monitor your keying efforts while you are recording, allowing you to make adjustments whithout having to render and check back footage.

Nine - Take Notes
If you are doing a lot of keying, you'll want to carefully record the settings you use, the lighting position and everything else that you may need to know to quickly re-create that perfect key you had during the last taping.

Ten - Buy Some Virtual Sets
Of course....Now that you have that whole chromakey thing down, you can save tons of money by keying your subjects over one of 3DVideoBackgrounds.com 's Virtual Studio Sets. You can find them on the web at http://www.3dvideobackgrounds.com With these inexpensive Virtual Sets, a bare wall, some decent lighting and your trusty keying function is all you need to create a production that looks like a million bucks.

This article was written by Alan Steward, Broadcast Engineer and Producer
(c)2004 Alan Steward - http://www.musicleads.net
You may freely redistribute or use this article on your website or in your newsletter as long as the article is unaltered and unedited.