Learn how you can create believable screen replacements in Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects with these simple techniques.

Say you’re recording a video for a client, and one of the shots includes a person holding a phone and browsing an app. You set it up, record it, and edit it. But wait — the company just redid the layout of the app, and they need the new design in their spot. What do you do now? Record the bit all over again?

Well, not when you’re using screen replacements. With tools like Adobe After Effects at your disposal, the fix is as simple as swapping out a single layer. Here’s how you do it.


Record Footage Correctly

Creating Screen Replacements in After Effects and Premiere — Record Footage Correctly

When recording your footage for your screen replacement, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Record your screen with a “green screen” — download a green .jpg from the internet, and open it in your photo app. Make it full screen, and use that when recording the device. This will come in handy when keying out the screen in post, and it will allow you to move objects over the screen without disrupting the screen replacement.
  • Keep all 4 corners visible — When you get to the motion tracking portion of this tutorial, the screen replacement will be much easier if you have four corners to track in After Effects.

Working in After Effects

Create a new composition, and import all of your footage. The first thing that you want to do is track the motion of your device’s screen. Open up the tracker window, and click the Track Motion button. Make the motion source your video, and change the track type to Perspective Corner Pin. This will prompt a four-corner box to open up in your preview window. Match those pins to the corners of your device’s screen, and then click Analyze to enable AE’s motion tracking software.

Creating Screen Replacements in After Effects and Premiere — New Composition

Before analyzing the track, you’ll need something to place the tracking onto in lieu of your vertical video (for later placement). Create a solid object by right-clicking the timeline and selecting New > Solid. No need to resize this object — just make it a visible color such as bright red, and from the tracker tab, select that solid in the Edit Target options. Once targeted, the new solid layer will take the shape of the tracked screen.

Creating Screen Replacements in After Effects and Premiere — Keylight

Now, it’s time to key out the green screen to allow movement over your device. Start by going to Effects > Keying > Keylight. Once you’ve applied this to your video clip, take the dropper in the effects tab and click the green screen. To make the keying process a bit clearer, change your view settings to Alpha Channel so the color difference is more apparent. Toy with the settings until you get a clear distinction between your key and the rest of the video. The Clip Black and Clip White settings will give you the clearest lines.

The keying process is going to alter the color of your video, so to bring it back to normal, duplicate your clip, and delete the keylight effect on the bottom layer. Afterward, go to your Track Matte settings on your timeline and Alpha Matte your bottom clip to the one above it. This will keep the color keyed, while maintaining the original color of your video.

Creating Screen Replacements in After Effects and Premiere — Vertical Video

Since you’re almost done, it’s time to add your vertical video to your phone. Pre-compose your red solid by right-clicking it and selecting Pre-Compose. This will open a new composition with just your red solid. In that window, drag in your vertical video and stretch it to the corners of the red solid. It may look warped, but it will go back to its original size in the main composition.

Now go back to your original composition, and see if the color matches up. If it seems like the video is too bold or the colors don’t wash with the original composition, give it a few touch-ups with the Lumetri Color effect. You can de-saturate the video a bit, turn down the exposure, or even adjust the curves to match the phone footage to your composition.

Remember, you can create this effect with any type of screen. A television in the background, a billboard in Times Square: you name it — with the screen replacement method, any screen can display your footage.


Screen Replacements in Premiere

Creating Screen Replacements in After Effects and Premiere — Premiere

While I recommend that you create your screen replacements in After Effects (due to the customization options and motion tracking capability), you can also create them in Premiere. Just remember: the screen cannot be moving if you choose to do this effect in Premiere. Without the assistance of motion tracking, you’d have hours and hours of keying ahead of you.

So take a clip of a screen shot on a tripod and import it into Premiere. Take the clip you would like to insert into the original screen and add it over the other in your timeline. Shrink it down in the settings to just about the size of your device’s screen. Then go to the Effects tab and drop Corner Pin onto your top video. This will allow you to manipulate the corners of your new video, so now all you have to do is pin those to the corners of the device’s screen.

Once you’ve done that, you have another successful screen replacement!


Looking for more post-production tips and tricks? Check these out.