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Keying Out Blue Screen in Adobe Premiere

Modern Filmmaking 

I love movies. Almost as much as the movies themselves; I love filmmaking and the art of filmmaking. Whatever you thought about Avatar, it was ground breaking in the way visual effects are shot. It joins the ranks of Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Terminator 2 and other visual effect groundbreakers. Right now the summer blockbuster season will be upon us, though who am I kidding; it’s already upon us! Batman v. Superman and The Jungle Book are out and soon Captain America: Civil War and many others will be joining them. All of these films are rich in special and visual effects. Let me also mention that they are rich in new ways of filmmaking in order to incorporate real footage with CGI. CGI of coarse is computer generated imagery. Blue and green screens are as prominent on film sets as are cameras, lights, actors and film crew. A good editor has to be able to do more than edit scenes, s/he has to be able to be a great chroma keyer! The chains are being broken daily as to what can be done and shown in the movies these days and its a great time to be a movie fan.


Now it is not likely that most churches will be using the visual effects and and new technical wizardry to do production. I hope that someday a church production can look like one of these block buster features. I am a firm believer that the church should be doing things as excellently as the world. But that’s a blog post for another day. Though let me show you the trailer for he Easter production for my home church in Tulsa. When I see it I feel excited that the church is catching up!

Using Blue Screen for Practical Church Production

But for my intents and purposes I hope to nock things down a few notches and focus on a more practical aspect of blue screen production. Again, some day I hope that I can compete with Disney on a church production, but in the mean time I’m going to focus on doing what I can do with excellence. I want to teach you today how to key out a blue screen or green screen on your project. I use Adobe Premiere so this tutorial will be focused on that.

I recently started filming a kids production where I am shooting a small film. Some of the film features characters in locations that I can’t or don’t have the time or budget to get to. In response to that, I filmed in front of a blue screen and then keyed out the blue and added in the desired background. I could see a church using blue screen for a fun and upbeat video for kids or youth. Maybe even for the right kind of teaching video for adults. Though the more you can film on location or on set the better and more realistic in my opinion. There is just some something fake about blue screen if done poorly. You really have to have the right lighting and precise editing skills to get it to look right and natural. That being said it can be a fun and effective tool and you should not be afraid to do it. Just be prepared to do it right.

Without further ado lets get on it. I’m going to let this video tutorial explain how to set up a blue screen and then I will go into the explanation on how to key it out.

Adobe Premiere 

Open Adobe Premiere and from the welcome menu either open or create a new project. On the next window name the project. The program opens, and it looks like this.premier

The bottom left panel is the Project Panel. Go to File, Import and select the media you want to work with. You now have chosen your film clip with the blue screen back ground. Take a look at this image of my kids film with the blue screen background. Your image ought to look something like this. Maybe not as “corny” but the example out to suffice for all circumstances.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 12.32.36 PM

Double click the file to load it into the Effects Panel. The image above is located in the Effects Panel. Find where you want to start the clip an hit the Mark In button. Now choose the ending of the scene and click the Mark Out Button. These are featured in the graphic below.
Mark IN and Mark Out



Next, pull the file into the Sequence or time line which is the long skinny menu to the right of the Project Panel. To pull in your selected clip you simply hover your cursor over the film clip button and the audio clip button. A hand appears and you click and drag the file into Sequence. These are featured in the graphic below.

Grab video or audio

Now the file is featured in the sequence menu. Next, open the Effects tab which is in the Project Panel. You can also open it by going to Window, Effects and clicking on the option. From the Effects tab, go to the folder titled, Video Effects and then the folder titled Keying,  and select the effect called Ultra Keying. Click and drag the effect onto the clip in the Sequence. Now double click on the film clip and the clip will open in the Effects Window. Now click on the Effect Controls tab.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 12.51.58 PM

You will notice it says Output with the option of Composite. Keep this there but change the Settings to Aggressive. Now choose the eye dropper tool on the option that reads Key Color. In the clip in the sequence, click on the blue background using the eye dropper tool. Once you do that, you will instantly see a change. The vast majority of blue will be removed from the scene, leaving you with a subject and black background. But you’re not done yet. Now it’s time to finesse the scene.

Go Output and instead of choosing Composite, choose Alpha Channel. The screen now shows the subject in white with shades of gray. Now use the Matte Generation and Matte Cleanup to fine tune the image. Use the shadow, tolerance, and the most important one, the Choke. These are the tools needed to clean up and fine tune the keying to get the perfect image. Make a check list.

  • Is all the blue keyed out?
  • Are the images fine tuned?
  • Check carefully on parts where the subject moves.
  • Is anything transparent on the subject?
  • Is any blue shimmering or showing through at any point during the scene?

By now you must also notice that the image is kind of gray and sickly looking? The answer is in these tools, Color Correction, Saturation, Hue, and Luminance.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 1.12.23 PM




  • Saturation ads in more vibrance and makes the colors that are there stand out and be more robust.
  • Hue ads in more natural color. Hue is one of the main properties of the color. This will distinctly show up in the face of the subject.
  • Luminosity is brightness or the appearance to the eye of more or less light.

Now that you have done all these steps you should have a beautiful image on screen. All you have to do is find or create the right background image and place it in, to finish the scene.

See the example of the final image below compared to the original blue screen image.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 12.24.49 PM

That’s it for today, I hope you will enjoy some of my other articles on filming. In the mean time be sure to check out this great video on the making of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.