How to Remove Video Background

When editing a video clip with a simple background, or a solid-colored backdrop (i.e. a "green screen"), it's easy to replace that backdrop with another image or clip. Also known as "keying" the shot, today's editing software makes it possible to remove video background layers in just a few steps. Below, we've outlined how to key your videos with Final Cut Pro X. 

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  1. First, you'll need to make sure that the video clip has an evenly lit, smooth, and solid colored background. Typically, the best colors for keying are green and blue, but it's possible to remove backgrounds with other colors as well.  
  2. Next, you should prepare the replacement clip in the Final Cut timeline. Drag it from the events section into the project, press E to append the clip, and then connect your first clip by selecting it and pressing Q. Now, the two clips will be linked.  

  3. Now, go to the Effects browser (or open it by pressing Command+5), click on the "Keying" section, and drag the "Keyer" effect from the browser to your original clip. 

  4. When you release your mouse, the Keyer will automatically try to remove the clip's background. For those with a professional green screen setup, this is all you'll need to do, but DIY videographers may need to tweak the effect's settings.     

  5. To adjust Keyer parameters, press Command+4 to open the Inspector window, and then click the triangle next to the "Keyer" header to open the effect's advanced settings. First, one way to gauge how well the Keyer worked is by clicking the "View" button in the Inspector, which will change the clip to a grayscale matte. This shows exactly where the software removed sections of the background. If the foreground has noticeable black marks, or the background has white marks, you may want to adjust the Keyer manually.  

  6. To do this, go back to the Keyer settings and set the Strength to 0. Next, to remove video background colors, you'll need to specify which color values to eliminate. Select the Sample Color icon, and then drag over a clean section of the clip's background to obtain a sample. For even more precision, click the Edges icon and then drag a line from the background onto your subject. This will ensure that your subject's edges stay defined, while also removing as much background color as possible.     

  7. Lastly, you can adjust the Spill Level slider to remove any background color that spills onto the subject. Too much Spill Level and you'll introduce unflattering colors to your image; too little, and the background color will still be visible.  

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