How to Add Special Effects to Videos on a Low Budget with Minimal Tools

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All you need is cloth or paper for a green screen, inexpensive software, and a smartphone or tablet to make Hollywood-style special effects in your videos!

The green screen, also considered the blue screen or chroma key, is a video and film technique that uses an artificial background. You record action in front of the background and then use software to change the image.

Step 1: Set up the green screen background

You can use a large sheet of blue or green paper or cloth for the background screen. Hang it up to avoid wrinkles and use strong lightning to avoid shadows. It is ideal to clip and tape the material to stretch it against a surface. If you want a more professional look, you can purchase a chroma-key backdrop at a specialty store or a green-screen studio kit online, which includes studio lights, the backdrop, and a frame.

Step 2: Choose your software

You can complete all recording and editing on a tablet or smartphone. In the app store, look for a “chroma key” or “green screen” app. Some useful apps that you could use that are priced under $5 include KineMaster, Do Ink’s Green Screen for iOS, or Android Film FX’s Green Screen Video app.

If you are editing on a computer and want to import clips, you can find software to do this for under $50. Such software includes the industry standard Adobe Premium Pro, Wondershare Filmora9, and Movavi Video Editor. You could even use software like iMovie for macOS or VSDC Free Video Editor for free.

Step 3: Record your video

Have your subject be positioned a few feet in front of your backdrop. Film your action, taking as many takes as needed. Use a tripod for your camera or phone to steady your video.

Step 4: Add a different background

Most video editing software programs will let you use another photo, video, or animation to replace a blue or green background. If you are in need of a different background, you can browse free and inexpensive options on websites like Pixabay, Videvo, or Pexels.

Step 5: Edit your video

Edit your video, making adjustments to lightning or color as needed. With most programs you can layer and arrange clips, cut out parts, as well as add additional embellishments like music in the background.

Then, you are all done with your video! Publish it and take a look at the Hollywood worthy special effects.

Learn more about making your own special effects on a low budget here.