Green screen removal, also known as “chroma keying,” is one of the foundational skills of professional video editing that any visual effects artist will need to master.
It involves using a piece of footage that includes an area of solid green (sometimes blue) that will need to be removed from the image and replaced with another visual element.
As far as visual effects techniques go, it’s one of the oldest and, thanks to the advancement of modern editing technology, also one of the easiest for beginners to learn and quickly master.
In this guide, we’ll take you through a step-by-step tutorial on removing a green screen video background in DaVinci Resolve.
Can you use DaVinci Resolve for chroma keying?
Absolutely! One great thing about DaVinci Resolve is that it's an advanced video editor and it includes chroma keying tools that allow you to quickly and seamlessly remove pretty much any green screen.
It also allows you to chroma key with colors other than green, which is helpful for scenes where performers or elements in the set are already green, and you don’t want to risk removing an actor's costume along with the green screen background by keying-out green.
How to remove a green screen in DaVinci Resolve
Follow these simple steps to remove a green screen in DaVinci Resolve using the Qualifier tool:
Step 1: Create a new project in Resolve or open an existing one.
Step 2: Import your footage.
You’ll need to import your footage containing the green screen, as well as whatever elements you want to replace the greenscreen with, such as a digital background or other elements.
Step 3: Drag and drop your green screen footage to the timeline.
Step 4: Switch your workspace to the color correction window by selecting “Color” at the bottom of your workspace.
Step 5: Open the Qualifier settings window by clicking on the eye-dropper icon.
Step 6: Select the Qualifier tool by clicking on the first eye-dropper icon under the Selection Range in Qualifier settings.
Step 7: Bring the Qualifier tool to the green screen in your footage, then click to select the color of your green screen.
Step 8: Click “Highlight” to view the green area that is now transparent as gray.
You will likely now see that your green screen is still green while the rest of your image has gone grey. Don’t worry; we’re about to fix that in the next step.
Step 9: Select “Invert Selection” under Selection Range.
This will make it so that your green screen is transparent while the rest of your image is visible.
Okay, now that we’ve removed our green screen, let’s figure out how to replace it with another video clip.
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How to replace a green screen with another video clip in DaVinci Resolve
After you’ve completed all the steps in the previous section, follow these steps to replace your green screen with another video clip. This is called “chroma key compositing.”
Step 1: Drag and drop the video clip you want to replace the green screen area with to the timeline.
Make sure that the clip is positioned underneath the green screen clip on the timeline.
Step 2: Select the “Nodes” icon to switch over to the Nodes workspace.
Step 3: Right-click (or ctrl + click) on the blank node creation area to bring up the drop-down menu.
Step 4: Select “Add Alpha Output” in the drop-down menu.
Step 5: The Alpha Output setting will now appear as a small blue dot on the nodes space. Click the small blue square on your clip node and drag it to the Alpha Output blue dot to connect the node.
Connecting your clip to the Alpha Output setting node instructs your clip to blend your transparent footage area with whatever clip lies underneath it on the timeline.
Step 6: Click “Highlight” again to see your composited image.
Congratulations! You’ve now learned how to remove a green screen in DaVinci Resolve and replace it with whatever clip you choose. You can also use this same technique to replace a green screen with a still image rather than a moving one.
Now, the only limit to what you can do with a green screen is your imagination. For example, you can drop in graphics behind a talking-head interview or build entire immersive worlds for a sci-fi film (we recommend practicing the first one a bit before moving on to the second).
Other helpful DaVinci Resolve guides
Like any tool, learning how to use DaVinci Resolve to its fullest potential takes a lot of practice, but it’s rewarding. Don’t stop at green screen effects. Start with a sample video and try out more techniques.
We’ve compiled a whole slew of handy guides to help you master Resolve like the editing wizard you’ve always wanted to be. If you liked this guide, check out these other handy articles and become a DaVinci Resolve master in the near future:
- 40+ must-know DaVinci Resolve shortcuts
- How to add DaVinci Resolve transitions (+10 free templates)
- How to collaborate in DaVinci Resolve [2021 guide]
- How to stream DaVinci Resolve over Zoom without lag
Now that you’ve mastered chroma-keying, we encourage you to find new ways to use it in your projects! Start creating by adding in visual effects elements or motion graphics as your skills advance. And remember, the keys to being a great visual effects editor are practice, practice, and more practice. That’s how you’ll build on your abilities, from your first video to video #100.
And if you’re looking for a better way to bring your remote video production team closer together and collaborate more efficiently from a distance, check out Evercast.
Evercast is one of the easiest ways to stream your DaVinci Resolve edit sessions in HD while video chatting and exchanging notes with your team, all under one platform. From your first experience with Evercast, you’ll see why it’s the tool of choice for a creator that wishes to collaborate at a distance.