Rose Brand Know-How Blog

Entertainment & event production tips, news & stories

Pick Keying Materials Like a Pro

Digital keying effects are used in virtually every form of film-making or video production today.  Whether you are shooting the next “Avatar” or are a prolific YouTube content creator, you probably use this special effect technique to combine or overlay images and footage together into one seamless composite.  And you may wrestle with the decision over which color of keying background to select and what keying surface to use. 

Understanding Keying

What is Keying?

Keying (also known as compositing) combines visual elements from separate sources into a single image. This creates the illusion that all those elements are part of the same scene.

The technique requires the use of a uniformly-colored keying backdrop, such as a "green screen" to achieve the effect. Through the magic of compositing or keying software such as Fusion™ or Nuke™, the green colored items in the scene (the keying backdrop) become transparent. This allows an editor to insert a different background in its place (a street scene, a mountain, etc.).


Color Options for Keying

With today’s advanced compositing software, you could technically pull a key from almost any color background.  But the majority of effects are shot against either a solid blue or green background.  To complicate matters, these color standards are available in two basic flavors:  Chroma Key (Green or Blue) and Digital (Green or Blue).  The Chroma Key colors are a darker shade and duller color.  The Digital colors are much brighter with a purer color hue. 


What Determines Color Choice?

The decision is usually determined by what’s being shot, how you’re shooting it, and what type of final scene is being composited. You’ll need to consider:

  1. The colors of the costume, wardrobe and other elements in the shot
  2. The subject’s proximity to the backdrop screen
  3. The level of detail that needs to be separated from the background color


If your subject contains a lot of blue or green then selecting to key against a blue or green background is an easy decision.  Choose the background color which appears least in your subject, either in the costumes or scenic elements.  If the subject does not clearly dictate the choice, then most professionals today choose to key in front of green rather than blue.  But either way, this choice is yours and you can get an excellent key in front of either color.


When to Choose Digital

When possible, it’s recommended to choose Digital Green or Digital Blue.  The brighter and purer hue in digital colors allows more separation between your subject and the background. 

If your subject contains very fine details that need to transfer – like fine hair, wisps of smoke, or cast shadows – then the bright, clean separation between the subject and background using Digital Green is crucial. 


When to Choose Chroma

If your subject is close to the background, choose the duller, Chroma option. The brightness of the Digital color is much more reflective than the darker Chroma Key colors.  If subjects are too close to the background, you may see the background color reflect and spill on the subject. This spill can create a halo of colored light on your subject that computer software will interpret as background and eliminate in the final key.   

PRO TIP:  If you experience a halo effect in a well-lit composite shot, try backlighting your subject with the complementary color of the background – Amber backlight in front of Digital Blue and Pale Magenta backlight in front of a Digital Green background. Or, use Chroma Key instead where the darker color is less likely to reflect a colored halo into your subject.


Choosing the Right Keying Surface

Rose Brand offers a wide range of materials to meet you budget, your technical requirements, and the physical constraints of your location when it comes to choosing a keying surface. Here are some product options:


Fabric Backgrounds

Fabrics as wide as 10ft seamless are available in Digital and Chroma Key colors.  Make your selection based on price and size, keeping in mind that a fabric background must be stretched wrinkle free in order to pull a clean key.  Other factors in your choice will be FR rating, color choice, and reflectance.  A matte finish is best for close work, while a slight sheen can help with separation between subject and background.  Browse Keying Fabric


Floors and Curves

A Chroma Key vinyl floor may offer the best solution for a studio that will get moderate use and where continual repainting the floor would create a logistical difficulty or be too expense.  Chroma Key Floor is 63in wide and double sided with Chroma Key Blue on one side and Chroma Key Green on the other.  In addition to providing a durable floor, the vinyl can also be used to create a continuous scoop from wall to floor which eliminates the “corner” where floor meets wall.  This intersection often creates a difficult area where a green screen and green floor don’t match nicely.  Creating a scoop prevents the shadowed region where floor meets wall and that is often difficult to key out.  Browse Keying Floor


Paint the Wall

Chroma Key Blue, Chroma Key Green, Digicomp HD Green, Digicomp HD Blue all make an excellent keying background.  With proper preparation, these paints can even be used on the floor for short term shots with light traffic.  One limitation to a painted Digital Green wall is the expense of the paint and that the wall cannot be moved with you.  Browse Keying Paints



If you have any questions about the best keying backdrop to use for your shoot, please don’t hesitate to send us an or call us at 800.223.1624.


Ominous Cotton Scrim Scenic Design Installation Using Projection & Lighting Techniques

Designer Ivy Flores created this gorgeous installation with the ominous title, “A Scenic View of the End of the World.” The installation consisted of hanging strips of cotton scrim arranged within a cave-like structure so that viewers could walk into the center of the space and look outwards. Four projectors lit the fabric strips by beaming a panoramic animation outwards from the center of the space. The effect was ethereal. 

Cotton scrim is commonly used in theaters, special events and other interior settings for quick economical swags and billows that are light as a feather.  Ivy selected this ultra-fine gauzy fabric so that light would pass through the material with minimal effect on the layer behind it.  soft and durable qualities made it perfect for an exhibit that users were encouraged to walk through, touch and move. 

View more images of designer Ivy Flores’s installation in our portfolio.  Watch the video of the experience by clicking the link below. 

A Scenic View of the End of the World

How One Event Designer Got Gotham Glam With A Sensational Digitally Printed Backdrop

When we introduced Matthew David of 360 Design Events LTD. to our digital printing on specialty fabrics, he knew he had found the perfect way to produce his vision for a grand format backdrop at a Lincoln Center gala event. As explained to Matthew, our Lightbox fabric is made to be lit from behind. When the fabric is direct-dye printed and backlit, it produces a brilliantly luminescent effect that’s similar to viewing film on a light box. Having viewed a backlit fabric sample, Matthew said, “I didn’t know you could do that with fabric!”


Comparison of "unlit" sample of digitally printed lightbox fabric (left), vs. "backlit" sample (right).

Matthew utilized the virtues of the fabric perfectly. His brilliant design for the Lincoln Center gala featured a 30’ high x 60’ wide, stylized image of NYC’s iconic skyline and East River. When backlit, the skyline and river appeared to glow from the very lights depicted within the image itself. The effect was simultaneously realistic and fantastical (see skyline image below). More...

The Benefits of a ShowLED Star Drop Curtain

ShowLED Wall

Rose Brand ShowLED curtains are often used as backdrops to achieve a programmable starry night effect. There are two versions of ShowLED -- Classic and Chameleon. Classic uses a white LED, which emits a cool, blue-white light. Chameleon uses an RGB LED, which can produce virtually any color, including a warm amber-white light. ShowLED LEDs are specifically designed for installation in fabric and scenery. Rose Brand has sold and rented ShowLED curtains for events as formal as a Presidential ball (i.e., Obama's inauguration) and as traditional as a corporate event or high school stage performance.

Rose Brand ShowLED curtains are easy to set up, easy to maintain, and are cost effective. When you buy or rent a ShowLED drape, you're paying for a complete package -- the drape (fitted with LEDs) and the LED controller. Nothing else is required to program the drape.

The device that controls the intensity, color, and frequency of the LED twinkle is designed for both novice and professional users.More...

When To Use Digital Key vs. Chroma Key


Large Green Screen


As high-grade recording equipment becomes more affordable and non-linear editing software becomes more robust, even grade-schoolers can now post high quality video content to YouTube on a regular basis. The improvement in the technology and its affordability has also enabled video producers, at every level of expertise, to incorporate special effects into their videos. One of the more popular special effects techniques is called "keying." Keying, or compositing, is the combining of visual elements from separate sources into single images, often to create the illusion that all of those elements are parts of the same scene.

The technique requires the use of a uniformly-colored keying backdrop such as a "green screen" to achieve the effect. Through the magic of keying and compositing, the green colored item/s in the scene (i.e., the keying backdrop) becomes transparent, enabling an editor to select a different background in its place (e.g., a street scene, a mountain, etc.)

Keying backdrops come in two main types and colors:More...