On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a green sheet to do chromakey

Yesterday I wrote about using OneNote and Camtasia with an external webcam, and today I want to take Camtasia a bit further into the “cool” effects territory.

Green screen or Chromakey is the ability to film a subject on a coloured background and then remove the background to replace it with something else.  When I was a kid, I was amazed that this was how they made superman fly – and never dreamed I’d be able to do it myself.  At home.  With a green sheet!

Whilst it is a bit of fun, it actually serves a purpose when making videos for students – in the 5E model, the first “E” is Engage – and as long as you don’t do it too often, and do it with a specific purpose, using Chromakey can help with this.  I’ve helped teachers put themselves in front of a medieval castle to introduce a Shakespeare task; I’ve put myself inside an atom – really, anything is possible!

My original plan for this blog was to set the green sheet up on the trampoline outside (around the safety net) and film my four year old daughter and then put her on the moon.  But its raining 😦

The next best thing was to setup inside – I just pegged the green sheet to the curtain rail in the lounge.  The webcam and Surface Pro 3 was the other side of the room.  If I was being serious about getting high quality, I would have ironed the sheet to get it even, and lit the backgrounding correctly with some work lights – one from each side (like this link shows) – but did I mention its raining and the work lights are in my shed.  So this is a “rough as it gets” test!

GreenSetup  GreenSetup2

After filming the “talent” (that’s me!) – I then filmed the background – a beautiful German Christmas ornament we have, that is just asking for a science lesson.


Quite seriously, all of this took under 20 minutes to setup and film.

There are quite a few software packages that allow you to do Chromakey – Adobe Premier with Aftereffects is an obvious contender.  Likewise there is a plugin for Windows MovieMaker6 that will do the job.  In my previous post, I already said I like Camtasia for creating video content – the wonderful thing about Camtasia is it is so fast to do the editing and chromakey – under five minutes.  You can watch me do it here:

And this is the final result.  Not a professional movie studio quality, and certainly not as good as can be done with Camtasia because of my dodgey setup (remember its raining!), but I’ve used videos of this quality with my students and they love them!  And lets face it, if the students come to class thinking its fun with a smile on their faces, the learning is just ready to happen.

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