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Chromakey is the Secret to the Magic You See in Television

Sep 4, 2008
Want to Jazz Up Your Home Video?

Chroma key is the way to do it. Chromakey is the cancelling out a background color so that you can insert a different background. You can purchase what you need from the auctions below.

How They Do It

The most common example of chroma key (chromakey) is the TV weatherman. He is not really pointing at a giant weathermap when doing his weathercast. He is being filmed in front of a blue or green background. These shades of colors are not normally found in nature. The station software simply substitutes the PC weather map for the green screen.

Using chromakey software, the blue or green color is removed and the weathermap background is substituted for the transparency left after the keying process. Another example of this was the occasional scene on the TV show "Whose Line Is It Anyway". They frequently had an actor standing in front of a green screen with something revolting, such as cockroaches or snakes crawling all over the background.

Now You Can Do Green Screening At Home

Software is readily available today that allows you to do it on a home PC. I have scenes taped of myself in front of a greenscreen and then using an NLE (Non linear editing software) and putting in a virtual set such as the Taj Mahal, the French Riviera, the Coliseum in Rome in the background. I trave;ed the world without leaving my computer room.

With Ultra CS3 from Adobe, you are able to use a virtual set and a green screen at the same time. A virtual set is a background to a video clip. Using Ultra CS3, if you stand in front of a green screen with a virtual set or another video clip in the background, and then key out the green, it will appear that you are a part of the background. We visited the Universal Studio theme park in Los Angeles where they used this. They selected two kids from the audience and place them on a bicycle angled up in front of a green screen, at about a 30 degree angle and had them pedal while they taped it. Behind the scenes, they inserted a background of the moon and a few clouds in the sky. When they showed the finished product, what you saw was the two kids on a bicycle, moving across the sky just as you saw in ET The Extra Terestrial. Once you understand the chromakey process, you will see what is behind the illusion you view in the movies or on TV. It does take some of the fun out of it.

Green Screen or Chromakey Software

Two examples of the software I use are Ultra CS3 and Visual Communicator CS3. These products were originally developed by a company called Serious Magic. Serious Magic was acquired by Adobe and they are marketed under the Adobe Banner.

Green Screen or Chromakey is fun.

My grandchildren are really impressed by what Papaw can do. You can do the same.
About the Author
I am Rick Blackmon I have been working with and on computers over 50 years. I retired from IBM after 42 years and have sold computers in retail since. Please visit my computer website The Geek's Photo and Video Store
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