How To Remove Video Backgrounds in iMovie Editor

iMovie is a popular video editing software that comes pre-installed on Mac computers. It provides a user-friendly interface for beginners to edit videos easily. One useful feature in iMovie is the ability to remove video backgrounds, allowing you to overlay your footage onto a different background.

My Experience with Video Editing

I have over 5 years of experience using iMovie and other video editing programs. I often shoot footage in front of green screens in order to replace backgrounds in post-production. This allows me greater flexibility and creativity with my videos. Over the years, I have gotten quite proficient at using iMovie’s chroma key tools to remove green screen backgrounds.

Why Remove Video Backgrounds

There are a few key reasons you may want to remove backgrounds from your video footage:

  • Replace an unappealing background with something more interesting
  • Composite multiple shots together that were filmed separately
  • Transport subjects to exotic locations without actually traveling there
  • Fix errors or distractions in the original background
  • Add visual effects behind your subject

Removing backgrounds gives you much more creative freedom when editing your videos in iMovie.

Using Green Screens

The easiest way to remove a background in iMovie is to film your subject in front of a green screen background. The green screen allows iMovie to easily distinguish your subject from the background so it can be removed.

Here are some tips for shooting with green screens:

  • Use a wrinkle-free green fabric or paper backdrop
  • Make sure the green screen is evenly lit with no harsh shadows
  • Position your subject at least 6 feet away from the screen
  • Avoid having your subject wear green clothing

How to Remove Green Screen Backgrounds in iMovie

  1. Import footage – Bring your green screen clips into an iMovie project
  2. Add background clip – Place the video or image you want in the background on a lower video track
  3. Position clips – Make sure the green screen clip overlaps the background clip
  4. Apply Green/Blue Screen effect
    • Select the green screen clip
    • Click the arrow beside the clip to open the video effect settings
    • Click Green/Blue Screen and adjust settings:
      • Drag the Softness slider to control the background transition
      • Use the Clean Up tool to remove green spill
  5. The background is now replaced! Adjust as needed.

Replace green screen background in iMovie

Using the AI Portrait Effect

iMovie also includes an “AI Portrait” effect that can automatically remove video backgrounds without needing a green screen.

Here is how to use it:

  1. Import your clip into iMovie
  2. Select the clip and open the video effect settings
  3. Click the “AI Portrait” effect
  4. Use the Erase and Reselect tools to fine-tune the background removal
  5. Adjust other settings like Softness and Noise Reduction as needed

The AI Portrait effect analyzes your footage to separate the subject from the background. It works best with high-contrast backgrounds and clearly defined subjects.

Tips for Better Background Removal

Follow these tips when shooting and editing with iMovie to help remove video backgrounds more effectively:

  • Use higher resolution footage
  • Ensure subject lighting contrasts with the background
  • Shoot a test clip and check how well the background removes
  • Adjust green spill reduction strength if needed
  • Use multiple video layers instead of all-or-nothing background removal
  • Combine the Green/Blue Screen and AI Portrait effects

Taking time to set up your shoot properly and fine-tune the background removal settings in iMovie will help you achieve better results.

Exporting Your Edited Videos

After removing your video backgrounds in iMovie, the last step is to export your edited videos.

You can export using various settings depending on your intended use:

  • Export to camera roll to save on your device storage
  • Choose video size and resolution
  • Export movie file to computer or external drive
  • Optimize file for web, TV, or other usage
  • Share directly to YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, CNN iReport

Be sure to back up your exported iMovie projects to external drives as needed.

Alternatives to iMovie

While iMovie works well for basic video editing, there are more advanced software options to consider:

  • Final Cut Pro – Apple’s pro video editing app with more controls
  • Adobe Premiere – Industry standard video editing software
  • DaVinci Resolve – Free with paid Studio version available
  • Wondershare Filmora – Easy to use with lots of effects

These tools provide finer tuning over aspects like chroma keying and color correction to take your videos to the next level.


I hope this article gave you a good overview of how to remove and replace video backgrounds using iMovie. The key steps are filming with a green screen backdrop, properly applying the Green/Blue Screen effect, and fine-tuning your chroma key settings.

Taking time to light and set up your green screen shots will ensure you get the best results. Combine iMovie’s built-in tools with the AI Portrait effect to tackle more difficult shots.

Let me know in the comments if you have any other questions! I’m happy to help explain any part of the video background removal process in more detail.