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Remove Black or White Background in After Effects

In this quick tip, we’ll take a look at how to remove a black or white background from our footage or images to get an alpha channel. We’ll be doing this without using any 3rd party plugins and will only be using built-in effects. This technique is very useful over blending modes in situations where you do not want to blend (either Screen, Add, or Multiple) your asset into the scene because they may be faded or blown out. This is also a nice way to “key out” the background so you can overlay the items nicely in your NLE without messing with blending modes.

Dojo BG Remover Presets

You can save time and download my Dojo BG Remover presets, which will apply all the effects in one step. You can download the presets below. The presets are compatible with After Effects CS5 and above.

Additional Tips

Another quick tip is to use a matte to cut out your objects, obtaining an alpha. Since your background is white or black, using a series of Luma/Luma Inverted mattes could be very beneficial. You may need to clean up the edges with a matte choker of some sort though. Red Giant also has a free plugin called Knoll Unmult which can remove blacks (not white). We cannot use Keylight to key out the black/white background as many beginners would assume because Keylight is a chroma keyer, meaning it only keys colors (RGB) and not black/white. I decided to do this quick tip while working on a project for a client. The client only had his logo on a white background. Using blending modes would’ve distorted the look of his logo, and I felt too lazy to hop into Photoshop to get a proper selection. By doing it this way, you’ll be able to stay within After Effects and avoid delay. This method also works with footage, something Photoshop can’t handle at the moment. I hope this technique helped some of you, especially using the presets. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to ask them below! Special thanks to Squarespace for sponsoring this tutorial. Use promo code: DOJO2 to save 10% off the life of your order.