Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

What is best DV Chroma Key Solution?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
Share
Anonymous
March 10, 2005 12:51:40 AM

Archived from groups: rec.video.desktop (More info?)

Hi,

I'm sure everyone is aware of the problems with chroma keying footage
shot on Digital Video, specifically, the blockiness distortion on
vertical borders which is particularly bad when the image is moving.
My question is, what is the best hardware or software solution today?
Best means cheap with good results. It looks like the top contenders
are:

Adobe After Effects 6 Production Bundle

Serious Magic Ultra (Wow! This one looks good)

Canopus Capture Card (but which one???)

Thanks!

More about : chroma key solution

Anonymous
March 10, 2005 4:09:50 PM

Archived from groups: rec.video.desktop (More info?)

Hi Larry,

> Though having never personally experienced problems with chroma key
on
> digital video I continue to hear of those who do. All of my
experience with
> DV and chroma keying or luma keying have been with hardware editing
> solutions. I have seen beautiful keying done using the dpsVelocity,
NewTek
> VideoToaster, Pinnacle Targa 3000 and my DVRexRT card.

A few years ago it was a real pain but I was hoping things had improved
since then. I have never done a hardware key, only software. I
haven't used any of the products you mentioned but I had a dpsSpark
once and an early Targa. I currently use a DVRaptor.

> In as far as Adobe After Effects all the output without hardware
plug-in
> would be rendered. The outcome would be very good, but depending on
the
> speed of your system output could be time consuming.

P4 3.2 GHz. I have heard good things about After Effects with the
DVGarage plug-in. I think that would allow me to stay native Canopus
DV codec all the way through.

> Serious Magic Ultra is very good at chroma keying, though it takes
some
> getting used to as the keying sometimes needs tweaking depending on
the
> camera angles - that is in their virtual sets. Ultra takes advantage
of
> DirectShow codec's, which my DVRexRT does not have. Therefore the
codec does
> not show up in the codec's option list. In this case the files are
output to
> DV Type 2 using a generic DV codec.

I've heard generic DV codecs aren't that good (i.e., the MS DV codec is
noisey).

> The DVStorm has good chroma and luma keying, just like it's big
brother
> DVRexRT. Whether Ultra will recognize the DVStorm I do not know. If
it does
> then the hardware would assist in the rendering. If it doesn't I
would
> assume the Premiere plug-in would be as forgiving as with the Rex.
You may
> not want to endeavor to use the Storm as many have found some flaws
in the
> Premiere plug-in that I won't go into here.

Yes, I've heard about too many problems with the Storm and the Edius NX
is too expensive. I'd hate to buy it and have it not work.

> The Matrox RT.X100 has excellent real-time chroma keying and will be
> recognized by Ultra. So, having these two together would sort of be
the
> "best of both world's" so to speak. In the respect of software only
using a
> 1394 card, Ultra is the answer.

Aaarrrggghhh! (The cost!)

> For live keying, that is to say having the ability to see the key in
> relationship to the Ultra virtual sets, utilizing a DirectShow codec
is the
> way to go. This allows you to have a live preview of your key while
being
> able to adjust the camera height and angle to match the virtual set
being
> used. In my opinion Ultra is a killer app and if you purchase it you
won't
> be sorry.

Don't need live keying, too difficult and time consuming. Would make
the shoot much longer and I have many scenes to shoot.

> I have Ultra, the DVRexRT, Matrox RT.X100, DVStorm and a generic 1394
option
> for capture and edit. I would test Ultra with all of these, but the
program
> has only two activations. My first was on the Rex system and I chose
the
> path of least resistance for the second - the RT.X100. Oh, I have
After
> Effect 6.5 Production bundle and the X100 plug-in works great.

AAARRRGGGHHH!!! Ultra only has two activations???!!! How does that
work? I'm always upgrading my system, replacing hard drives, etc, is
that going to get me into trouble? That's why I run Win2k and not XP.
Unfortunately, the Matrox RT.X100 xtreme only runs under XP.

Thanks!
Rick
Anonymous
March 10, 2005 8:15:20 PM

Archived from groups: rec.video.desktop (More info?)

Though having never personally experienced problems with chroma key on
digital video I continue to hear of those who do. All of my experience with
DV and chroma keying or luma keying have been with hardware editing
solutions. I have seen beautiful keying done using the dpsVelocity, NewTek
VideoToaster, Pinnacle Targa 3000 and my DVRexRT card.

In as far as Adobe After Effects all the output without hardware plug-in
would be rendered. The outcome would be very good, but depending on the
speed of your system output could be time consuming.

Serious Magic Ultra is very good at chroma keying, though it takes some
getting used to as the keying sometimes needs tweaking depending on the
camera angles - that is in their virtual sets. Ultra takes advantage of
DirectShow codec's, which my DVRexRT does not have. Therefore the codec does
not show up in the codec's option list. In this case the files are output to
DV Type 2 using a generic DV codec.

Luckily the DVRexRT plug-in for Adobe Premiere will playback these files in
real-time, but the Rex Edit program rejects them because there is no
software encoding related to the real-time hardware. Premiere sort of cheats
using the 1394 output regardless of the codec.

The DVStorm has good chroma and luma keying, just like it's big brother
DVRexRT. Whether Ultra will recognize the DVStorm I do not know. If it does
then the hardware would assist in the rendering. If it doesn't I would
assume the Premiere plug-in would be as forgiving as with the Rex. You may
not want to endeavor to use the Storm as many have found some flaws in the
Premiere plug-in that I won't go into here.

The Matrox RT.X100 has excellent real-time chroma keying and will be
recognized by Ultra. So, having these two together would sort of be the
"best of both world's" so to speak. In the respect of software only using a
1394 card, Ultra is the answer.

For live keying, that is to say having the ability to see the key in
relationship to the Ultra virtual sets, utilizing a DirectShow codec is the
way to go. This allows you to have a live preview of your key while being
able to adjust the camera height and angle to match the virtual set being
used. In my opinion Ultra is a killer app and if you purchase it you won't
be sorry.

I have Ultra, the DVRexRT, Matrox RT.X100, DVStorm and a generic 1394 option
for capture and edit. I would test Ultra with all of these, but the program
has only two activations. My first was on the Rex system and I chose the
path of least resistance for the second - the RT.X100. Oh, I have After
Effect 6.5 Production bundle and the X100 plug-in works great.

--
Larry Johnson
Digital Video Solutions
webmaster@digitalvideosolutions.com
http://www.digitalvideosolutions.com
877-227-6281 Toll Free Sales Assistance
386-672-1941 Customer Service
386-672-1907 Technical Support
386-676-1515 Fax
Related resources
Anonymous
March 11, 2005 3:31:52 PM

Archived from groups: rec.video.desktop (More info?)

Hi Larry,

The short answer is they are all static shots. I'm making a feature
movie (it will be my second) and there are about 118 pages in the
script and some 160 scenes. Yes, I would love to do the fancy stuff
you mentioned, but even with just static shots, it will take several
months to create the virtual sets, add in special effects, and do all
the normal stuff (foley, music, etc.). The fundamental problems are no
money, of course (it's just little old me and a couple of credit
cards), and not enough time (I work full time in a different field). I
really would like to complete it before October (Sundance deadline) but
I realize I may not make that goal.

> The "Live Preview" I spoke of in Ultra is for the user to adjust the
camera
> height and angle according to the virtual set being used. Obviously
the
> "talent" cannot be placed realistically into a scene using jus any
shots of
> someone on a chroma key background. Which brings me to another
thought about
> what you said above.

Understood. I'm basically just trying to do backgrounds and static
shots.

> "Too difficult and time consuming". What are you thinking? Obviously
you are
> not interested in doing realistic looking chroma key compositing. If
you
> don't take the time to match the camera angle and position of the
scene you
> are planning to chroma key people and objects into, then how are you
going
> to make the scene seem realistic?

Yes, I want realism, but I also want to complete this thing in my
lifetime. (I'm actually much older than you think). :-) Plus, as you
might have guessed, it is probably outside of my set of skills. The
fundamental reason for the green screen is because I can't get access
to some of the places I need to shoot, e.g., a police station - they
just laughed at me when I asked. Oval office - I didn't even ask. :-)
And of course, some of the places don't exist. Or rather, making it
cgi will cost me a lot less than trying to build a set in my garage.
For example, an Egyptian pyramid. Yes, it won't be totally realistic
but making a semi-realistic movie is better than making no movie at
all, IMO. Maybe somebody with money will see it and say, "hey, I could
remake that into a 'real' movie!" :-)

> If you want someone to jump over a moving bus it is not possible to
simply
> take the camera onto a chroma key set and tell them to jump really
high from
> a camera tripod shot.

Why not? Then you could make the backgound movement to match the
camera movement. You'd have to shoot a couple different angles.
Please explain.

> In order to make scenes work you need to study the background shot
and
> somehow create comparitive movements of the "talent" on the chroma
key
> background. Take "the Matrix Reloaded" as an instance. How would that
have
> looked without the proper planning for the spectacular fight scene
atop the
> moving semi-truck? Or, how would those "Lord of the Rings" movies
looked if
> the animators just make little ugly beings in whatever fashion they
desired
> without matching the camera angles and movements of the scenes they
appeared
> in?

Yes, those were spectacular! And *far* beyond my capabilities! :-)

> Explain to me how doing live keying "would make the shoot much longer

> because you have many scenes to shoot"? Sorry Rick, but I personally
don't
> think you know what you are doing. All angles and movements must
match for
> proper chroma keying - unless the talent and background are static
shots.

Well, first I'd have to build the cgi sets before I did any shooting,
right? I've already scheduled auditions so they would have to be
postponed. (Not a good idea because even now I don't finish shooting
until June - I can only shoot on the weekends, and shooting in the
summer interferes with people's vacation plans). Secondly, when doing
the shooting, you then have to track camera movements to the cgi
background movement, yes? I'm not sure how to do this either, all I
have is a tripod with a wheel bracket adapter thingy (like a dolly, but
it moves in any direction). Do you move the camera and guess rates of
movement and zoom? Or, what you do is shoot the camera first, then
create a cgi background to match that movement? Seems like the latter
would be easier.

But, the bottom line is, you are correct. I do not know how to make a
scene such as you described. That is why I'm sticking to static shots.
However, fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of
view, that is not gonna stop me from making this movie! :-) To
infinity and beyond!

On the otherhand, if your services are available, and you don't need
money to live on, I would be glad to have your help. (Actually, I do
give a small percentage of the profits to all participants, but the
chances of making a profit are extremely small). I'm just trying to
follow my dream.

Rick
Anonymous
March 11, 2005 5:01:04 PM

Archived from groups: rec.video.desktop (More info?)

Hi Larry,

> I'm glad to hear you are working on your second feature. I would be
> interested to see the first. Is there an example clip anywhere that I
could
> see?

You can download the trailer at
http://www.dunbarproductions.com/specks/SpaceSpecks.htm
just click on the trailer hyperlink. However, there is only one very
brief scene in the beginning which shows the technique (when the Specks
say "Surrender or Die"). It's a pretty good movie for the amount of
money I spent on it, but it is not good enough to play with the big
boys. The good news is that I didn't have to sell my house after I
made it to pay for it. :-)

Examples of the production techniques are here:
http://www.dunbarproductions.com/specks/prod/11/Prod11....
(The guys in armour were shot against a green screen)

There are many other examples in the Production Status section, but the
technique was basically the same. Ryan did the best job, middle of the
page, the lady sitting behind the desk:
http://www.dunbarproductions.com/specks/prod/08/Prod08....

Everything you see in the scene is cgi except the lady. He even had
reflections in the glass, the guy is a master! :-)

> Also, I would be interested to see more of what you are attempting
> which has led us to this discussion. Enlighten me, cause I really am
not
> finding any sense of the process as you see it.

The way I (we) did it before was to create a 3D scene in a 3D animation
program. Then, I moved the animation camera to where I thought it
would be a good match to the actor. Then I saved one frame of the
scene as a jpg and imported that into After Effects. Then in After
Effects, I chroma keyed the live action onto the background. Since the
background and actor were both static, it was relatively easy to do.
And admittedly, not completely realistic. The easy part was, after the
scene was made in 3D it was very easy to move the animation camera
around to match the actor. There is a way to import the actor into the
3D animation program but I never actually did that.

I guess I'm trying to do the same thing again. Although, as you point
out, it would be nice to have more variety of shots (long, medium,
close) this time around.

> Now, here's my take from what you have said so far.
>
> Again, regardless of whether or not these are static shots the camera

> height, angle and movement has to match the background shot. In your
words
> you say, "it will take months to create the virtual sets" for your
> production, and again herein lies the problem of matching camera
shots in
> these "sets".

Most of the time we were just doing headshots, or from the waist up.
We made the set to match the camera (rather than the other way around).
It took approximately 7 months to create all the sets and animations
with a team of about 7 or 8 people. (I'm not sure of the time we spent
doing sets versus animation). Yes, we did have some problems doing it
this way. For example, that is why the lady has such a big name plate
on her desk. She was shot full frame from the chest up and then shrunk
down to fit the scene. Without the nameplate whe would have been
floating above the desk. :-)

> Without the ability to see the chroma key set in relationship to the
> "virtual set" how will you match any long shots to these sets?
Matching
> medium, medium close and close shots I can see. It's just a matter of
having
> camera angle approximate the "talent" camera angles. Otherwise even a
static
> camera shot can have people moving through the shot. How will you
manage to
> eyeball the proper setup to accomodate this "virtual set"
environment?

Yes, long shots are a problem. What we did before is shrink the actor
and then create the background to match the actor. Yes, matching shots
is a problem. I'm not sure how Ryan did it (the lady scene above), but
that was pretty much the only scene where there were mixed shots. But
bottom line was, yes, we just eyeballed it. When we ran into problems,
a common technique was to use a foreground object to mask the problem.
Yes, I would like to have more matching shots in this movie. Actually,
I think it is necessary this time around.

Rick
Anonymous
March 11, 2005 9:19:53 PM

Archived from groups: rec.video.desktop (More info?)

<----Rick Said--->

Don't need live keying, too difficult and time consuming. Would make
the shoot much longer and I have many scenes to shoot.

<---End Rick Said--->

The "Live Preview" I spoke of in Ultra is for the user to adjust the camera
height and angle according to the virtual set being used. Obviously the
"talent" cannot be placed realistically into a scene using jus any shots of
someone on a chroma key background. Which brings me to another thought about
what you said above.

"Too difficult and time consuming". What are you thinking? Obviously you are
not interested in doing realistic looking chroma key compositing. If you
don't take the time to match the camera angle and position of the scene you
are planning to chroma key people and objects into, then how are you going
to make the scene seem realistic? If you want someone to jump over a moving
bus it is not possible to simply take the camera onto a chroma key set and
tell them to jump really high from a camera tripod shot.

In order to make scenes work you need to study the background shot and
somehow create comparitive movements of the "talent" on the chroma key
background. Take "the Matrix Reloaded" as an instance. How would that have
looked without the proper planning for the spectacular fight scene atop the
moving semi-truck? Or, how would those "Lord of the Rings" movies looked if
the animators just make little ugly beings in whatever fashion they desired
without matching the camera angles and movements of the scenes they appeared
in?

Explain to me how doing live keying "would make the shoot much longer
because you have many scenes to shoot"? Sorry Rick, but I personally don't
think you know what you are doing. All angles and movements must match for
proper chroma keying - unless the talent and background are static shots.
--
Larry Johnson
Digital Video Solutions
webmaster@digitalvideosolutions.com
http://www.digitalvideosolutions.com
877-227-6281 Toll Free Sales Assistance
386-672-1941 Customer Service
386-672-1907 Technical Support
386-676-1515 Fax
Anonymous
March 11, 2005 11:51:47 PM

Archived from groups: rec.video.desktop (More info?)

I'm glad to hear you are working on your second feature. I would be
interested to see the first. Is there an example clip anywhere that I could
see? Also, I would be interested to see more of what you are attempting
which has led us to this discussion. Enlighten me, cause I really am not
finding any sense of the process as you see it.

Now, here's my take from what you have said so far.

Again, regardless of whether or not these are static shots the camera
height, angle and movement has to match the background shot. In your words
you say, "it will take months to create the virtual sets" for your
production, and again herein lies the problem of matching camera shots in
these "sets".

Without the ability to see the chroma key set in relationship to the
"virtual set" how will you match any long shots to these sets? Matching
medium, medium close and close shots I can see. It's just a matter of having
camera angle approximate the "talent" camera angles. Otherwise even a static
camera shot can have people moving through the shot. How will you manage to
eyeball the proper setup to accomodate this "virtual set" environment?
Anonymous
March 12, 2005 1:41:52 AM

Archived from groups: rec.video.desktop (More info?)

Then Ultra would be the way to go. Having the live preview of your green
screen set would greatly improve your matching of these shots. You could
then decide in the 3D program the angles you need and then match the actor
positions accordingly.

It's really a matter of placing the 3D scene, either a static shot or motion
shot, into the background of Ultra. Turn on "Live Preview" position the
camera and shoot only the chroma key with no one there while keying out the
background. Then bring in the talent and move the camera to match the scene.

Naturally the more chroma key background you can cover the more movement and
freedom you will have in the shot. Once you have eveything in line you can
then shoot the talent doing what they do best, and later tweak the key for
maximum reality. With your friend Ryan's inginuity and enought backdrop
material you could have the actors walking inside the sets, including the
use of foreground objects through the provided overlay track. Not every one
of your dream scenes could be accomplished with foreground objects, since
using the overlay would be present in the entire scene, but with a little
thought - which I see you guy's are obviously using, the production would be
much better.

Mull this over. I have searched the internet for green screens and the least
expensive one is 10 foot wide and 30 feet long - no stand included. We have
10 foot wide 100% cotton muslin chroma key green material for $15 per hard.
30 feet (10 yards) is only $150. We have a background stand capable of going
to 150 inches wide for $249.99 (you only need 120 inches - 10 foot). With or
without the stand with enough green material and a large enough area you
could be doing a lot with Ultra as you software choice. Serious Magic has
the FlexDrop Instant Backdrop, which is good for standing medium long,
medium, medium close and close shots. We sell that for $199.

Sorry for the blatant plug for our products, but I use Ultra and am so blown
away by it I have turned into a "Johovah's Witness" type advocate for the
product. It is seriously a very very cool program! If you had it in your
hands you would see what I mean.
--
Larry Johnson
Digital Video Solutions
webmaster@digitalvideosolutions.com
http://www.digitalvideosolutions.com
877-227-6281 Toll Free Sales Assistance
386-672-1941 Customer Service
386-672-1907 Technical Support
386-676-1515 Fax
Anonymous
March 12, 2005 9:57:23 PM

Archived from groups: rec.video.desktop (More info?)

Hi Larry,

Thanks for the pointers!

> With your friend Ryan's inginuity and enought backdrop
> material you could have the actors walking inside the sets, including
the
> use of foreground objects through the provided overlay track. Not
every one
> of your dream scenes could be accomplished with foreground objects,
since
> using the overlay would be present in the entire scene, but with a
little
> thought - which I see you guy's are obviously using, the production
would be
> much better.

I will see what I can do to follow your suggestions.

> Mull this over. I have searched the internet for green screens and
the least
> expensive one is 10 foot wide and 30 feet long - no stand included.
We have
> 10 foot wide 100% cotton muslin chroma key green material for $15 per
hard.
> 30 feet (10 yards) is only $150. We have a background stand capable
of going
> to 150 inches wide for $249.99 (you only need 120 inches - 10 foot).
With or
> without the stand with enough green material and a large enough area
you
> could be doing a lot with Ultra as you software choice. Serious Magic
has
> the FlexDrop Instant Backdrop, which is good for standing medium
long,
> medium, medium close and close shots. We sell that for $199.

Actually, I was going to put up drywall in the garage and paint it with
Rosco chroma key green. However, the material sounds like it might be
better for the floor. I also have a small portable green screen (cloth
foldable) but I haven't been impressed with the keys. I think the
material is too dark.

> Sorry for the blatant plug for our products, but I use Ultra and am
so blown
> away by it I have turned into a "Johovah's Witness" type advocate for
the
> product. It is seriously a very very cool program! If you had it in
your
> hands you would see what I mean.

:-) Not a problem! Another message board has recommended Adobe AE, so
I'm thinking they're both good products and it is just a matter of
preference. Only problem is I can only afford to buy both. And I
don't want to make a mistake.

Thanks,
Rick
!