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5 Best Free Software to Remove Background from Video [Windows, Mac]

Last Updated on May. 27, 2022 – by David Morgan
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Whether you're a content-creating hobbyist or a professional video editor, knowing how to remove a background from a video is an essential skill that can save both time and money. Is there anything worse than a forced reshoot because the background is all wrong? In addition to saving time and money, background removal tools like chroma key or masking are great for adding special effects to videos during post-production.

This article will review five of the best free software available to remove background from video, including our top overall pick, key features, pros and cons, and classifications. You can also check out our quick-read comparison chart if you're in a hurry. There are also step-by-step instructions on producing background-free videos and frequently asked questions. Let's get started!


Top 3 Software to Remove Background from Video Snapshot

PowerDirector Logo

1. PowerDirector – Best Overall

PowerDirector is our top choice for video editing software that can perform background removal. This award-winning, AI-powered video editor has thousands of effects and features, including chroma key, green screen, masking, blending, sky replacement, and overlays. Detailed Review >

Lightworks Logo

2. Lightworks – Best for Linux Users

Lightworks is a freemium video editor with tools for removing video backgrounds. The software uses a chroma key tool or green screen to achieve background removal in videos. Plus, Lightworks offers batch editing for ease of use. Detailed Review >

Hitfilm Express Logo

3. Hitfilm Express – Best for Amateur Filmmakers

Hitfilm Express is a video editing software ideal for amateur filmmakers who need a quick way to remove the background from videos. The free version features a green screen tool, a color difference key, and a hue/RGB adjuster for fast background removals. Detailed Review >

What Editing Tools Do You Use to Remove Background in Videos?

Any high-quality video editor will have a few options for removing the background from a video. However, the most popular methods for background removal include chroma key, green screen, and blending modes.

With chroma key, you film a subject against a solid-colored background (green, blue, purple, etc.), then remove the colored background during post-production. Once the solid color is transparent, you can add a new background video or image.

Technically, green screen editing is a form of chroma keying. However, chroma key works with any solid color background, whereas green screen tools only work with green backgrounds.

To remove video backgrounds, you can also use blending modes, which layer two images together to create a composite. Essentially, blending changes the way your footage looks by allowing the pixels of each layer to mix and merge. 

Another option is masking to remove video backgrounds, which cuts out sections of the frame. Or sky replacement if you want to use a better-looking sky.

5 Best Software to Remove Background from Video

1. PowerDirector – Best Overall

PowerDirector Interface

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Android, iOS

Overall Rating: 10 / 10

Background Removal Tools: 10 / 10

PowerDirector is our best overall choice for software that will quickly and easily remove the background from your videos. It has an impressive range of tools for background removal, including chroma key, green screen, blending, masking, overlays, and even sky replacement. If you need some help, the software offers a gigantic tutorial library and blog you can reference with answers to all your editing questions.

PowerDirector also features an extensive range of powerful editing tools, templates, transitions, effects, and so much more. We're talking AI-powered tools like object detection, motion tracking, and speech enhancement. Also, PowerDirector has up to 7.6 times faster rendering in true 4K than the leading competitor?

Whether you're a weekend editing enthusiast, social media influencer, live streamer, or professional video editor, PowerDirector has everything you need and more to create unique and engaging content. Take your pick: You can remove background from videos using chroma key, green screen, blending, and masking, earning it the top spot. If you need software with the speed, power, and capabilities to handle your most complex video editing jobs, PowerDirector has what it takes.

Reasons to Recommend

  1. Advanced video editing tools
  2. Chroma key, green screen, blending, masking, sky removal
  3. Lightning-fast video rendering in true 4K
  4. Over 3,000 effects and templates
  5. AI-powered software and editing tools

Get started and download PowerDirector for free by clicking on the button below.


2. Lightworks – Best for Linux Users

Lightworks Interface

Image from Influencer Marketing Hub.

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux

Overall Rating: 7 / 10

Background Removal Tools: 6 / 10

Lightworks has been in development since 1989 and is a popular video editor for Mac, Windows, and Linux users. You can use the Lightworks chroma key tool to remove a video background, and it offers multiple color choices for chroma keying. Of course, you can always stick with the traditional green screen. 

If you're a Linux user, you should consider downloading Lightworks to remove background from your videos. It's also ideal for YouTubers because it allows users to upload content directly to the popular streaming platform. Lightworks also offers basic and advanced features, including autosave, background processing, and proxy workflows. You can also edit images and audio, including voice and sound effects.

While Lightworks is a good choice for free software, its steep learning curve makes it more suitable for the experienced editor. For example, the chroma key and color picker tool are relatively easy to use, but you'll have to spend the time learning the basic features and editing interface first. However, the biggest downside of using the free version of Lightworks is the export restriction on videos to MPEG 720p.

Pros
  • Wide selection of video and audio editing features and tools
  • Compatible with Linux systems
  • Allows direct uploads to YouTube
  • Chroma key tool allows easy background removal
Cons
  • Very steep learning curve
  • Prone to crashing or freezing
  • Exports limited to MPEG 720p

3. Hitfilm Express – Best for Amateur Filmmakers

Hitfilm Express Interface

Image from G2.

Compatibility: Windows, Mac

Overall Rating: 7 / 10

Background Removal Tools: 5 / 10

Hitfilm Express is another video editing software with tools for removing video backgrounds during post-production, including color difference, masking, green screen removal, and color correction via hue/RGB adjustment. Unfortunately, the chroma key tool is only available on the paid version. In addition, users report that the software's background removal tools are not very user-friendly and require precise manipulation.

However, if you're an indie or amateur filmmaker without a big budget for professional video editing, Hitfilm Express is worth a shot. The software offers numerous effects that mimic famous Hollywood cinema, like Star Wars, 3:10 to Yuma, and more. While it's free to use, editors who want the full range of editing tools will have to purchase add-ons or splurge on the premium version.

The free version of Hitfilm Express offers a few background removal editing tools, but they're not the greatest. Unfortunately, the complex interface makes the background removal process challenging, mainly the color correction/RGB tool. In addition, you'll only find chroma keying on the paid version. However, most amateur filmmakers will appreciate the range of cinematic effects and editing features that Hitfilm Express offers for free.

Pros
  • Wide selection of Hollywood movie effects
  • Multiple tools for background removal
  • Includes masking and layering techniques
  • Ideal for amateur filmmakers
Cons
  • The chroma key tool requires a paid upgrade
  • Limited editing features on the free version
  • Background removal tools aren't beginner-friendly
  • Prone to random freezing and crashing

4. Shotcut – Best Open-Source Video Editor

Shotcut Interface

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux

Overall Rating: 6 / 10

Background Removal Tools: 6 / 10

Shotcut is another free software to remove background from video. It's open-source and ideal for entry-level or advanced beginner editors. You can use the green screen chroma key tool to begin your background removal, but first, you'll need to film with a green screen. Shotcut doesn't have the capabilities to remove the background of "normal" videos without a green screen.

In addition to the green screen, Shotcut offers a range of tools for adjusting, modifying, and editing your video and audio in post-production. Experienced editors may want to look elsewhere, but Shotcut is still a good choice for an open-source, cross-platform editor. It offers wide format support, audio and video editing tools, and a decent selection of effects, filters, transitions, etc.

Check out the website if you need help removing the background from a video with Shotcut. It has numerous tutorials, how-tos, and a community forum where you can ask other users for advice. While it has a few tools for removing video backgrounds, remember they only work on videos that already have a green screen. Also, you can't upload your clips directly to social media, and large-scale editing projects often cause delays and lagging.

Pros
  • Free, open-source video editor
  • No watermarks on final edits
  • Good range of format support
  • Active community forum
Cons
  • No advanced editing effects
  • Requires green screen for background removal
  • Large videos cause delays/lags
  • Can't upload directly to social media platforms

5. VideoPad – Best for Windows Users

VideoPad Interface

Compatibility: Windows, Mac

Overall Rating: 6 / 10

Background Removal Tools: 6 / 10

VideoPad is our top pick for Windows users because the Mac version is different, with fewer features and tools. To remove the background from a video, you can use the chroma key tool. Upload two video clips—the background and main subject—then click on the Video Effects menu and use the color picker to select the color you want to remove.

VideoPad is also suitable for beginners, and many Windows users chose this editor as a replacement for the now-defunct Windows Movie Maker. It has a user-friendly interface and an impressive range of editing tools, features, and functions for free software. In addition, it supports over 60 video formats and creates 3D and 360 videos.

If you're a beginner editor and only occasionally want to remove video backgrounds, then VideoPad has the features you need. However, the free version has obnoxious notifications and limited editing tools. In addition, the Mac version has far fewer features compared to the Windows version. Plus, many users report that VideoPad's customer service needs improvement.

Pros
  • Supports 3D and 360 video creation
  • Wide range of output and sharing features
  • Great for beginner editors
  • Features chroma key and green screen removal tools
Cons
  • Free version has obnoxious notifications/ads
  • Mac version has limited features compared to Windows
  • Advanced editing tools require a paid upgrade

Best Software to Remove Background from Video Comparison Chart

Software PowerDirector Lightworks Hitfilm Express Shotcut VideoPad
OS Windows, Mac, iOS, Android Windows, Mac, Linux Windows, Mac Windows, Mac, Linux Windows, Mac
Beginner-friendly Yes No No Yes Yes
Chroma Key Yes Yes No Yes Yes
Video Masking Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Blending Modes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Sky Replacement Yes Yes Yes No No
Free Download
Free Download
Secure Download
Download Download Download Download

PowerDirector vs

OS

Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

-

Beginner-friendly

Yes

-

Chroma Key

Yes

-

Video Masking

Yes

-

Blending Modes

Yes

-

Sky Replacement

Yes

-


How to Remove Background from a Video

We're going to use PowerDirector to teach you how to remove background from a video using blending modes and the green screen/chroma key. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Download and Install PowerDirector.
  2. To remove white or black background from a video, use Blending Modes. Add your main video to Track 1 on the timeline, then add the video with the colored background to Track 2 on the timeline directly below the first clip.
  3. Left-click to select Track 2, then click Tools.
  4. Select Blending Mode.
  5. PowerDirector Interface - Tools
  6. In the pop-up editor, click on the Normal menu.
  7. For videos with white backgrounds, click Multiply, then OK.
  8. For videos with black backgrounds, click Lighten, then OK.
  9. PowerDirector Interface - Normal
  10. Let's remove a solid-colored background (usually green or blue) using the ChromaKey tool. First, add the main clip to Track 1 on the timeline. Then, add the green screen (or another solid color) clip to Track 2, directly below the first clip.
  11. Double Left-Click on Track 2 to open the PiP Designer.
  12. On the left-hand menu under Properties, scroll down to the Chroma Key section and click on the box to enable the effect.
  13. PowerDirector Interface - Chroma Key
  14. Select the Eye Dropper tool.
  15. on the solid color background you want to remove in the video using the Eye Dropper.
  16. Adjust Color Range or Denoise to your liking.
  17. PowerDirector Interface - Denoise
  18. Click OK on the bottom right to save your changes, and that's it!

Download the Best Software to Remove Background from Video for Free

There you have it: five of the best free video editing software you can use to remove background from a video. We also discussed standard editing tools for background removal, including chroma key and blending. With those tools, you can change your video backgrounds to anything you want: an urban city, a beautiful forest, even the surface of Mars.

Of the five editors we reviewed, it was clear that PowerDirector was the best overall choice. CyberLink's powerful, AI-driven software offers an enormous selection of basic and advanced editing tools, including blending, masking, green screen, chroma key, sky replacement, plus thousands more. It also features lightning-fast 4K rendering, the latest format support, and a gigantic stock library. Ultimately, PowerDirector is one of the best professional video editors on today's market.

Download PowerDirector for free now.

Software to Remove Background from Video FAQ

1. What Is Chroma Key?

Chroma key is an editing tool that lets you replace solid-colored video backgrounds with another video or image. You film the subject against a solid-colored background (usually green or blue), then remove the color in post-production by making it transparent.

2. What Is Video Masking?

Video masking removes an unwanted section, frame, object, or section of a video clip. For example, you could cut out a subject completely or blur it to lessen the distraction.

3. What Are Video Blending Modes?

Video blending modes layer two video clips to create one single composite. Blend modes change how the color information in the two clips interact. For example, it could lighten, darken, multiply, dissolve, etc., creating a single composite with your chosen effect.

4. What Features Should I Look for in Software to Remove Background from Video?

The top ten features you should look for are

  1. Chroma key
  2. Green screen
  3. Blending modes
  4. Video masking
  5. Sky replacement
  6. Video overlay
  7. Color replacement
  8. Intuitive editing interface
  9. AI-powered tools and effects
  10. Cross-platform compatibility

If you're looking for software that checks all of these boxes and more, we recommend PowerDirector by Cyberlink. Download it today to get started! 

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