How to Green Screen in DaVinci Resolve

Have you seen any movies lately? Chances are there’s more going on in the production than meets the eye. Producers save millions in production costs and hassle simply with a bit of movie magic. Enter the green screen, where you can transport actors into any location without leaving the studio!

Stand in front of your green screen, pull up your copy of DaVinci Resolve, and with just a few clicks, you’ll be standing anywhere you want.

In this tutorial, we’re assuming that you’ve already shot your green screen footage. We’ll use DaVinci Resolve v17.4.6 to remove the green screen.

How the process works

A couple of things that aren’t common knowledge is that green screens aren’t always green. Sometimes they’re blue. And the professional film and video industry don’t call ’em green screens, either. The industry term for this process is Chroma-Key. We will take a page out of their book and do the same in this guide.

We use video editing software like DaVinci Resolve to chroma ‘key’ out or delete the green screen behind the subject in post-production. In the final result, the subject is the only thing in the shot, leaving you to change the background however you wish!

Removing the green screen

Step 1: Ingest your footage into DaVinci Resolve:

Press Command ⌘‑I (Control-I in Windows) to bring up the footage ingestion window (where you will browse for your footage). Select the clips you want to use and press Open. The clips you want to import are the Chroma-Key clip (the one with the subject and green screen) and the Background clip, which we’re ultimately going to see behind the subject.

The Ingestion Window is where you browse and select the clips you want to use.

Step 2: Drag the clips into the Timeline to use them

The Timeline is where the footage is inserted and arranged for editing use.

Drag and drop your Background Clip into the Timeline in the Video 1 channel, and then do the same with your Green screen Clip on top of it in the Video 2 channel.

Move Footage Files to the Timeline
Move Footage Files to the Timeline to make them ready for use by dragging them into the Video 1 and 2 channels.

Step 3: Select a green-colored segment to key out!

  1. Click on the Color tab at the bottom of DaVinci Resolve’s workspace. It’s the icon that looks like a rainbow flower.

    Select the Color TAB. It is the rainbow-colored icon, the fourth from the left of the bottom icons.
  2. Click on the 3D Qualifier icon. The 3D Qualifier window will become active, revealing your options on the left-hand side of the Color Workspace.

    Activate the 3D Qualifier window by clicking on its icon. It is the eyedropper highlighted.
  3. In the 3D Qualifier window, click on the Qualifier Color Picker Eyedropper, the farthest eyedropper to the left. We’re going to use that to select the green in the video.

    Activate Color Picker then select a green area
    Activate the Color Picker Eyedropper, then left-click anywhere on the green portion of the power window.
  4. Next, click on a green part anywhere in the Power Window (where we see our footage). If you can’t see your green screen footage, select it from the clips right above that middle row of icons. Ensure that you are only selecting the bright green of the green screen and no other area.

Step 4: Keying out the Green

  1. In the gridded window to the right of the Power Window, right-click anywhere on the grid. A dialog will pop up. Select Add Alpha Output. The small box with a tiny version of the Power Window is called a Node.

    Select Add Alpha Output
    Right-click on the grid and then select Add Alpha Output
  2. After you click on Add Alpha Output, a blue square will appear on the right side of it and a blue dot on the grid not far from the node box.
  3. Click on the blue square on the Node, and drag-click it in a line to the blue dot on the right.

    Drag-click the blue square to the blue dot on the right, connecting the two.
  4. Now the background is visible through the silhouette of your subject!

    inverting green final image
    This is what you should see after successfully inverting the green screen. The subject disappears to reveal the background.
  5. We want the opposite, so let’s go back to that little row of eyedroppers to the left in the 3D Qualifier section and select the Invert icon. It’s the one with the ‘spinny’ arrow.

    Select the Invert Icon to invert the greenscreen part of the image.
  6. There you go! The green of the Chroma-Key is ‘keyed out’ or removed from the image. Your subject is now in front of your background footage!

    Greenscreen inverted.
    This is what we should see after clicking on the Invert Icon. Your subject is now in front of your background. We are nearly done!

Step 5: Cleaning up and applying finishing touches

Nearly done! If there is still a green ‘halo’ around your subject, zoom in to your subject (either by rolling your mouse wheel or entering a larger viewpoint by pressing SHIFT + F on your keyboard).

We can remove the rest of the green halo in a few ways.

  1. The quickest way is to use the DE-SPILL slider, which removes the ‘spill’ from any green reflection.
  2. Use the Matte Finesse sliders to draw back any part of the ‘halo’ until most of the green is gone. Then, use the Picker Add (the eyedropper with the + sign) along the margins to get rid of the rest. The Feather options can also be used to ‘feather’ out any extra remnants of green.

    Use the highlighted functions to select and adjust the visibility of the green halo on the subject.
  3. Either way, you can make gradual adjustments with a combination of these options to reach the sweet spot where only your subject will remain.
  4. Play the footage all the way through to ensure that there is no green halo remaining in the image. Press the Right  Left Arrow Keys to move your footage frame by frame for the best level of inspection.
Make adjustments until the result is satisfactory. There should be no traces of greenscreen anywhere on your final image.

And there you have it, a quick and easy way to green screen in DaVinci Resolve!

Remember, a good outcome is only as good as your preparation. Ensure that the green screen and your subject are evenly lit for the best results!

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