Not every Premiere Pro tutorial needs a video, right?

Keying is simply one of the easiest things to do in Premiere Pro, but if you don’t know where to look or what to do, it can be a little difficult to get started with it.  I’ve put together this little tutorial so you can have an easier time of it! If you don’t know what keying is, simply put, it’s making a particular color (often green) transparent when working with video so that you can ‘stack’ elements on top of each other.  It’s often used for CGI, but has many other uses as well!

Ok – now, for the tutorial.  I’m assuming for the sake of this tutorial that you know how to start a new project in Pr, and can import footage.  I’m using images for this project, but all of the processes work the same regardless of the media.

Here’s our Premiere Pro workspace right now:

Premiere Pro - Complete Screen

Our current workspace

Notice that I have one image on the timeline already – that’s my background image.

Step One: Drag the footage to be keyed onto the timeline above any current footage you currently have.

Easy Keying in After Effects - Layers

Your Layers should look like this

If you need to resize it, use the motion controls in the effects panel to resize and reposition.  Now you should have something that looks a little like this:

3 - Overlaid

No idea why the ‘rectangular snip’ ghost is there. I’ll replace the image later =D

Your layers should

Step Two: Find the “Color Key” effect in the Effects panel, and drag it onto the new object you just put on the timeline.

The search feature is super helpful here.

Easy Keying in After Effects - Keying

This panel is usually in the lower left of Pr.

Step Three: Click on the keying footage (the footage whose color you’re going to be removing), and then find the ‘Key Color” element in the “effects controls” panel.

Easy Keying in After Effects - Keying

Click the little eyedropper.

Step Four: Click the eyedropper, and use the color select tool to select the color you want to remove.

Easy Keying in After Effects - Fuzzy Keying

that’s not quite right….

You’ll notice a bit of a fuzzy outline, but that’s ok, we’re going to remove that in the next step.

Step Five: Expand the “Color Tolerance”, “Edge Thin”, and “Edge Feather” areas and set their values.

These values will ALL completely depend on the project, the intensity of the color you are removing, and the closeness of the color you are removing to the rest of the color data in the image.  The values below, however, will give you a good start:

Easy Keying in After Effects - Fixing Keying

You can’t hurt anything – play away!

Now you should have a good key to work with, and your footage should key properly!

Easy Keying in After Effects - Fixing Keying

Much Better

Final Result:

Easy Keying in After Effects - Final Result

Huzzah! You win!


So what do the options “Color Tolerance” “Edge Thin” and “Edge Feather” do?  Glad you asked!

Color Tolerance: Almost always, where there’s an ‘edge’ between two colors, there’s going to be some color blending.  The tolerance level lets Premiere ‘expand’ the color range that it removes for keying, based around your selected color.

Edge Thin: This control affects how ‘big’ the edge of the key is.  The higher the number, the more it cuts past the edge of the key edge.

Edge Feather: This control ‘softens’ the keying edge, aliasing the image and getting rid of ‘jaggies’

Did this tutorial help you at all?  Let me know in the comments!