Create video recording in Microsoft Teams with green screen chromakey background without an actual green screen

If you record yourself in front of a green screen — or giant sheet or curtain — you can then manipulate the video and have any picture, movie, drawing or other visual replace the green in the video. A trick commonly used by reporters who do not actually want to stand in the cold. Here I am in the middle of Broadway. Yeah, right!

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If you do not have a big green piece of cloth — or a way to hang it in your office — you can still create a video with a green background, using Microsoft Teams. In this article, I will explain how to do so — and achieve an effect like this.

The main Teams feature I am leveraging here is the custom background that was introduced in March or early April 2020. When the camera is switched on in Teams, you can select a your background of preference. 20 odd backgrounds are shipped by Microsoft. You are allowed — semi-supported it seems — to add your own background pictures, by uploading an image file to the directory %appdata%\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads.

In my case, the directory is called C:\Users\lucas_j\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads. And the background I am uploading is: this completely green PNG. The color of a green screen.

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I have added the PNG to the Uploads directory:

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To see it in action, I create a Teams Meeting in Outlook:

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Join it — thereby opening my Teams Windows Desktop App

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and Start Camera.

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Next, I click on Show background effects, All available out of the box backgrounds are listed as well as the custom green-screen background that I just uploaded to the \Uploads folder. I select that green background of course

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The camera image is now complemented with a green background. As if I am seated in front of a green screen — which I am really not.

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Start recording.

At this point I can do my presentation. When done, Stop the recording. Teams will prepare an MP4 file of me with bright green background. I can now hang up.

In the chat I always find a message that the recording failed to upload to Streams; however, there also is a link for downloading the recording.

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This will give me the MP4 file on the local file system.

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Note: you may want to edit the MP4 file a little — it starts out with an MS Teams title page that is no good in most cases. I use SnagIt here to remove the first 3 seconds of the recording (any video editor will do):

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And now for the fun part: this MP4 can be used as a source in video editing programs, including the free Open Broadcaster Software (OBS). The green background in the video can easily be replaced with static images, video, screen captures or anything that can be shown on a computer screen.

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Note: I tried to have the green background replaced with “transparent” color in PowerPoint. That did not work well: it turned out that the green is not monochrome, but actually many different green hues. I am sure other image editors are more flexible and allow easy editing.

Originally published at https://technology.amis.nl on May 18, 2020.

Written by

Lucas Jellema is solution architect and CTO at AMIS, The Netherlands. He is Oracle ACE Director, Groundbreaker Ambassador, JavaOne Rockstar and programmer

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