How to Remove the Background Color with Screencast-O-Matic (aka Green Screen or Chroma Key)

How to Remove the Background Color with Screencast-O-Matic (aka Green Screen or Chroma Key)

´╗┐Screencast-O-Matic allows a user to remove the background color of their screencasts, webcam video recordings, and image overlays with use of the green screen feature.  You can apply settings for color removal in either the screen recorder or video editor and you can always re-adjust any settings in the video editor before your final video is published.  For example, you can get a preview of the effect while recording your webcam and then in the video editor add a background and modify your settings or completely remove the effect.  

In addition to webcam recordings, you can use this effect on imported video and image content as well as the previous recordings created with Screencast-O-Matic.

To access Green Screen features, you need a Deluxe or Premier Plan. 

Summary of Green Screen Controls in the Screen Recorder and Video Editor

1. Remove Color -- If this is checked, then the background color is being removed (green screen effect is on).  By checking/unchecking this box, you turn the green screen effect on/off.  This will apply to the entire length of the recording.

2. Color -- Choose the color that you would like the remove.  The application will look for this color, remove it, and replace it with a transparency.

3. Tolerance -- This will increase or reduce the effect based on the similarity of colors to the one chosen with the Color dropper.  For instance, increasing the Tolerance slider will create much more transparency as the application is 'removing' additional shades of colors.

4. Flip Horizontal -- This allows one to reverse the webcam image horizontally.  Learn more about this feature in the flip horizontal article.


Recorder Setup

For getting the best effect for removing the background color from a webcam recording, we have a few recommendations on setup.

  • Consider using a high quality webcam.  A crisper video capture will lead to a cleaner removal of the background color.
  • Plan on acquiring a physical green screen.  Build or purchase a background that will fill the bounds of the area filmed by the webcam.  As the green screen effect optimizes for the color green, you will often get the best effect from green.  You may also see good effects from bright versions of colors like blue or purple.
  • lighting setup will help keep the background color uniform.  Barring this, we found a well lit room from indirect sunlight on a sunny day works well.  The goal here is to keep shadows to a minimum.
  • Clothes -- wear clothes that have colors dissimilar from the background color (unless you are trying to remove your body also).  For example, don't wear a green tie or earrings if removing a green background color as most likely these will disappear!

An example of the Green Screen effect applied to an image can be seen below.  The green screen background is present on the left image and when the effect is applied the background color is removed and replaced with a transparency shown as grey and white squares.   

Recording with Green Screen

Launch the recorder and select either "Webcam" or "Both" in order to turn on the webcam for recording.  Green screen will not be available during recording if the webcam is not turned on.

The recording area specific to the webcam has a magic wand that appears in the upper right of the webcam preview.  Click on this to bring up the Webcam options menu.

In the webcam options menu, you can enable green screen by placing a checkmark in the "Green Screen" area.  The removal of your background in the webcam will begin immediately in a live preview and will show in the preview window within the webcam settings dialog.  This live preview allows you to adjust your green screen settings prior to starting your recording, giving you optimal control over the initial recording session.

Note that in the above picture, the app is having a hard time finding the proper area with the selected color to automatically remove from the background.  In order to improve this, read on in the next section for Green Screen Options.

Please note: while the webcam preview screen shows the green screen effect in realtime, it will not show during the time that you are recording your presentation.  


Green Screen Options

There are two options to adapt the automatic background color removal of the green screen feature.  The first , "Color", allows a person to select the color of the background they'd like to remove.  For instance, if your background is blue instead of the typical setup of green, you could remove a blue background.  Click on the dropper next to "Color" and place the dropper on the color within the webcam preview that you would like to remove.  Note that the color tab next to the dropper automatically updates with the color that your cursor is hovering on within the preview window.


The second option, "Tolerance", will allow the user to modify how much of the background that is near the chosen color to be removed.  For example, if you choose green as the color to remove, increasing the tolerance will remove darker and lighter shades of green; and eventually will remove nearby colors like blue or yellow.  (Technically, those colors closer in RGB value are affected first).

Of course, you will get the best result with an actual green screen in the background.  Read on into the next section for tips on getting the best background removal possible 

Flip Horizontal -- This allows one to reverse the webcam image horizontally and can be important for place orientation of the webcam with respect to your selected background.  We will go into more depth on this feature in the flip horizontal article

Start your Recording

Once you have "Green Screen" activated, click "OK" to exit the webcam settings window.

You can now begin your recording with green screen enabled by clicking the red "Rec" record button.

Please note: while the webcam preview screen shows the green screen effect in realtime, it will not show during the time that you are recording your presentation. 

Video Editing with Green Screen

The Screencast-O-Matic video editor allows a user to add, modify, and remove the green screen effect from screen recordings or imported videos and images. This can be useful when you need to import a video or image that requires color removal, to apply Green Screen to any previous recordings, and can be used to adjust settings to get the optimum color removal effect with your background and final video.  

How to Add, Adjust, or Remove the Green Screen Effect in the Video Editor

Within the editor, click on the video recording or image that you would like to modify.  In the case below, the webcam recording with the green screen effect applied has been selected.  Once selected, then click "Options" on the dialog that appears to the right.  Below, I have specifically clicked on the webcam video recording to modify its settings.

Click on " Remove Color" to activate the effect.  The tool automatically guesses at the best color to remove from the background.

Manually Select the Filter Color (Chroma Key) and Improve Your Results with the Tolerance Slider

Sometimes your background will include uneven lighting or variations in color which results in the filter not providing the best guess for removing the background color.  We provide a couple simple tools to help make adjusts and get the best results based on the image or video.   With the Remove Color effect turned on, you can click on the eye dropper icon to select different colors from your image.  With the eye dropper activated, click within the area of the image or video whose color you are removing.  For example, if I am removing the background color from the webcam video, then make a selection with the eye dropper by clicking within the webcam video area (shown below in the lower right of the larger screen video).

Once you have selected a color, the color box next to the eye dropper will update with the selection. 

You may change the chosen color again by clicking on the eye dropper and repeating the selection process and achieve the best effect.

After selecting the color to be removed, move the Tolerance slider to the right (to increase transparency) or to the left (to decrease transparency).  By modifying the tolerance slider, you should be able to find a nice "sweet spot" for maximum removal of the chosen color.

Finishing Up

Now that we have finished our edits, click "OK" or press Enter to accept these changes.  Now you are all set to continue with further edits or save the recording.

To see creative ways you can use Green Screen in your videos, please see this article.





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