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Forums Adobe After Effects Keying and Color Correction: in which order?

  • Keying and Color Correction: in which order?

  • Stephen Norrington

    June 22, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Hi there, when keying a series of green screen elements into a sequence of shots, should the elements be color matched and corrected before keying (for consistency but perhaps changing the green screen color) or after (when one can take a more global overview of the interplay of FG and BG for the whole sequence)?

    Stephen Norrington

    Artproject Independent Production

  • Roland R. Kahlenberg

    June 22, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    You shouldn’t want to tweak the green’s unless its meant to help in the keying process … . So, it’s best to key first then grade the footage.


    Intensive mocha & AE Training in Singapore and Other Dangerous Locations

    Imagineer Systems (mocha) Certified Instructor
    & Adobe After Effects CS6 ACE

  • Stephen Norrington

    June 22, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Thanks for the speedy response. I’ll create a master reference grade and use that as a guide for grading all the elements after they’ve been keyed. Nice one, appreciated.

    Stephen Norrington

    Artproject Independent Production

  • Todd Kopriva

    June 22, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    I agree with Roland.

    Todd Kopriva, Adobe Systems Incorporated
    After Effects quality engineering
    After Effects team blog

  • Tudor “Ted” Jelescu

    June 23, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Like Roland and Todd I key first and grade after. I normally use at least two passes- one on the individual layers to bring everything to similar values and then a overall grade on an Adjustment layer on top to blend all elements.

    Tudor “Ted” Jelescu
    Senior VFX Artist

  • Stephen Norrington

    June 23, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks for the thoughts, I was confused by the elements I have because they are rather inconsistent (green screen color variations and the grading on the photographed content changes shot to shot) but seeing how my material “breaks down” a bit when color-corrected first then keyed I’m gonna do what you do: key first then use per-element CCs, then adjustment layers for overall shot CCs – cheers 🙂

    Stephen Norrington

    Artproject Independent Production

  • Arthur Bourquin

    July 5, 2022 at 9:04 am

    Hello there,

    9 years later, same questions still remains?

    Personnaly i think it depend.

    Working with 8bit log footage I had much better results “colorgrading” first and then keying.

    I write “colorgrading” becase it is not to have a final look, but at least have a “linear” image (I applied a 2.2 gama correction).

    keylight 1.2 keyed better this way.

    Curious to know if other peoples had the same experience.

  • Adam Greenberg

    July 5, 2022 at 3:42 pm

    IMO, color grading is the last step, but sometimes you need to do both, so before and after. I can’t say if that will work with every case, but the fact is, sometimes you get footage that unfortunately was not shot optimally.

    I can remember a specific case where we had no choice but to adjust the color in order to get a better key. And on top of that, the method we ended up using was quite complex, where we only used the result as a matte, etc. etc. etc… which gave us slightly more options than you can achieve using the standard method. Then when we were happy with the result, we tweaked the colors again to better match the footage we were keying on top of.

    So, to conclude, you cannot really color grade the footage before the key, because changes to that footage, will likely affect your key result

    1. adjust color if necessary

    2. key

    3. color grade

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