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When Aliens Attack Kittens! A Green-Screen After Effects Video Tutorial

What you're about to see is extremely classified footage recently unearthed from the vaults of the US Department of Defense. Or maybe it's just part of an awesome Shutterstock tutorial on using Keylight for After Effects. (OK, it's the second one.) In this tutorial, you'll learn how to "key out" your green-screen footage, giving you the ability to create any scene you can dream up — like one of a completely realistic-looking UFO beaming up an adorable kitten, for example.

To create this scene, start off with this adorable kitten from contributor jamesbenet.  

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Open your clip in After Effects and you'll be ready to begin.  

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Step 1

The first thing you want to do is key out the background. Go to Effect > Keying > Keylight. A lot of the Shutterstock footage collection already has the legwork done for you, with the background keyed out and replaced with green. This makes it even easier for us to take out the background now.  

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Step 2

Use the eye dropper to change your Screen Colour to whichever color you would like to key out. I also adjust Screen Pre-blur to try to avoid any sharp unwanted edges.  

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Step 3

Now we need to put in our spaceship. I chose this awesome rotating flying saucer from contributor Bob Orsillo.  

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Go back to Effect > Keying > Keylight and select the Screen Colour of the background for the new clip. As you can see, the background on this one has a subtle gradient, so this doesn't completely key out the background. In this case, you'll need to increase your Screen Grain until the background is entirely keyed out.  

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Step 4

It's time to add a background for our scene. I used this video of summer in suburbia by contributor orbitrob.  

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Step 5

We also need to add that infamous Tractor Beam that is going to beam up our poor kitten. For this, I created a new white Solid by going to Layer > New > Solid. Add a mask with the rectangle tool and adjust its shape to look like it's coming out of the spaceship.  

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Step 6

Create keyframes for Mask Shape... and adjust the solid for opening and closing.  

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Step 7

Make a new composition and call it whatever you like, I prefer to call mine "stage." Put the composition with all your layers onto your stage and adjust the saturation to 0. You can do this by going into Effect > Color Correction > Hue/Saturation.  

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Step 8

No UFO video would be complete without an old-time video filter like this one from contributor PinnacleMotion. Put it on top of your now desaturated composition and set the blending mode to Multiply. Play with the opacity until it's to your liking.  

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Step 9

Since our spaceship looks a little too much like a modern 3D render, we'll add some Noise and Glow effects to make it look more "realistic."  

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Step 10

To further push how realistic our scene appears, we should add some shadows. I did this by creating another new Solid and using a radial Ramp: Effect > Generate > Ramp. Create a black-to-white ramp and set the blending mode to Multiply. Adjust the radial gradient to fit under the kitten and add a Gaussian Blur: Effect > Blur & Sharpen > Gaussian Blur.  

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Step 11

Repeat the same process to create the shadow for the UFO, but in this case you'll need to animate it coming down and going back up. To do this I simply animated where the End of Ramp is. Create key frames for when the UFO is at its lowest and highest points, and the shadow will grow and shrink accordingly.

And there you have it! You've created your next YouTube hit, kittens, spaceships, and all. Keep an eye out for more advanced Keylight tutorials from Shutterstock in the future!  

Clips used in this tutorial:

Like this tutorial? Check out another great After Effects lesson on 3D Texture Mapping:

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