A Quick Guide to the Green Screen Effect

I am getting ready to teach a completely online version of my course on Web 2.0 technology at San Jose State University this summer, and I’ve been thinking about how I can create engaging lectures for my students. So, my latest project has involved learning about how to use the green screen technique, also known as blue screen or chroma key, in my videos. The technique is used to remove a green or blue screen from the background of the filming area and replace it with any static image, motion background, or video clip. It can often be seen in television weather forecasts. And it will allow you to create all sorts of effects.

I’ve found a lot of very helpful resources online, and thought I would pass them along for anyone who is also interested in mastering this technique. Here’s my first video, and below are tutorials and a guide.

Intro from Ellyssa Kroski on Vimeo.


These are just a few of the hundreds of video tutorials out there, which you can access by keyword searching for the terms green screen or chroma key on video sharing websites such as YouTube and 5Min, or the Blinkx, video search engine.

How to make awesome green screen (Chroma key)!! part 1 DVD

How to use Green Screen Software for Chroma Key Video

Adobe After Effects Design Center Tutorials

Digital Hotcakes Tutorials

Media College Tutorials

Message Boards

Have a particular problem you’ve run into? Take a look at these forums to see if others have solved your problem for you. If not, they are the places to go when you’re seeking advice.

Video Editing Forums at CreativeCOW.net

Digital Director Forums

Free Motion Backgrounds

Want to find professional video loops to add to the background of your videos? Check out these free footage resources, and search for others with the terms motion backgrounds, animated video backgrounds, or video loop backgrounds.


Neo’s Clip Archive

Footage Firm’s Free Stock Footage Clips


Green screen backdrops and lights can be found at various places online including on eBay, but the cheapest I’ve seen is at TubeTape.com. However, I bought a queen-sized green bedsheet at Bed Bath and Beyond that works just great. For lighting I’m using two clamp lamps to light the green screen which were about $10 each and have actual plastic clamps that attach to anything like a chip clip. And since my first video I’ve invested another ten bucks for a third clamp lamp for additional lighting in front of the camera.


There are many video-editing software products available with “keying” features. I’m using a combo of Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects for my projects. For Mac users, Final Cut Pro is also highly recommended. Sony Vegas, and Pinnacle Studio Plus & Ultimate allow for keying in videos, and I’m also very interested in trying out VisionLab Studio from FXhome.