I was honored to create a tutorial for Fstoppers.

Almost from the start I have been following Fstoppers.com, yes I know it’s mostly a photography site and not about DSLR video, but actually it relates more to video than you think. If you ever watched some of their  featured videos like the one with the Iphone or even the Lee Morris wedding  photography video you will notice that not only do these guys take awesome pictures,  but they also create some awesome BTS videos as well.

Patrick Hall from Fstoppers contacted me and asked if I would create  a step-by-step green screen tutorial for Premiere CS5, and I told him I would be honored.

Just a quick disclaimer for those not familiar with me and my site, I’m an amateur and I show all the mistakes I make as I learn how to shoot DSLR video. That being said, I have been doing green screen work for about 4 years now, but I am totally self taught – so I am not a pro at this.

I use cheap halogen work lights for my setup. First up is my 250watt hair light which provides some depth by providing a nice rim light on my shoulder and hair, I made the barn doors out of sheet metal.

Next up is my 1,000 watt key light that’s high up and pointing through a window screen frame made from nylon stop fabric.  My fill light is set to 500 watts which is also using the same screen frame.

After that I have two work lights for lighting the green screen, and as you can see they do a bad job, one of these days I’m going to replace them with something better but since Premiere Pro does such a good job I’m not in a big hurry.

The green screen is 6 feet behind me and I am not casting any shadows on it.

Now that I have shot my footage I place the native DSLR .mov files on the Premiere timeline.

I like to do all my sharpening and color correction first and then I put in the Ultra Keyer, I have a new video card and the Mercury Playback Engine can handle the playback smoothly without rendering.

Watch the video below for the rest of the tutorial. I drank a little bit too much red wine tonight celebrating my birthday so I am not sure if any of this is readable. 🙂

Boulder Flat Irons from NCAR HDR First Attempt


  • Dave,

    I really dig your blog and have been following it for a few months now, watching your skills develop and grow. The quality of your videos is increasing and just getting better and better as well as more informative. I have noticed the audio has really improved. I also noticed in this video that you are using what looks like a Rode shotgun mic? Do you have it plugged into an external recorder, like a zoom h1? Thanks!

  • Dave,

    Wow. Just wow. That ultra keyer is amazing. I’ve shot in front of the green screen at the news station where I work (which was obviously a little better lit than your set up), and I’ve never been able to pull a key in Final Cut with that kind of precision. I’ve used the MPE in Premiere Pro for accelerated rendering of other effects, but have yet to use Ultra Key. Can’t wait to try it out. Great tutorial.

  • Nice Job, I still working with Vegas, I found It easier, I have a Canon 5D using Mov files, but I also use NeoScene to transfer files to Vegas format. Nice, really Nice Job indeed, Congrats.

  • “Watch the video below for the rest of the tutorial. I drank a little bit too much red wine tonight celebrating my birthday so I am not sure if any of this is readable.”

    hehe thank you for your honesty 😛

  • Wow the keyer in CS5 is looking pretty awesome!
    I’m still saving the money to by the CS5 Master Suite…

  • Dave, you have a brilliant little gem in this tutorial – the bit about using window screens covered in nylon ripstock for the diffuse lighting with halogen work lights. Gale Tattersal mentioned that when they did the season 6 finale of House, that they used primarily work lights from Home Depot to shoot that episode. So, you are in good company with your lighting setup 🙂

    Little secret – I often fall back to using HD work lights when the so-called pro gear isn’t up for the job.

  • Dave,

    I know you’re not familiar with Final Cut Pro, but I was curious to know what others thought about Premiere CS5 vs. FCP? I have both and have been told from my buddies in the industry that FCP is the “standard,” yet I find FCP lacking in many of the areas that Premiere excels in. In your opinion (or anyone else’s) do yuo think I should stick w/ Premiere or go with FCP?

    Also, the Mercury playback is great, however after a few minutes of editing the raw .mov files out of the camera, the playback starts to slow down and gets to the point of ubber frustration. I can’t believe it’s my computer since I have a 5 month old 15 inch mac book pro with 4GB of RAM and the core i7 processor. Anyone else have this issue?

  • Some greats tips using Adobe to Key out the green screen, plus the mecury playback engine helps with rendering as well. We’ve seen and experienced gotchas from client footage, from overexposure or not properly lit green or blue and spill is a definite problem.

    James – Unitedbyphotography.com

  • Hi Dave,

    Thanks for this tutorial. This has improved my greenscreen workflow considerably. It was taking me forever to get a decent key in After Effects CS5.5 and rendering was a massive drag just to preview small changes.

    I recently bought a Geforce GTX 550 Ti for the MPE in premiere pro I wasn’t so impressed until I followed your tutorial. I had to do a double take when saw the preview was playing back at Full Res and zero rendering time.

    Thanks Again Dave!

  • Where can you get good free video loop back grounds like the one you used in your tutorial?