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Old April 23rd, 2007, 07:09 PM   #1
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Chroma key software options

What chroma key and motion tracking software options exist for Vegas users? We have Vegas 5, and the included chroma key software isn't making the cut.

I had been interested in Ultra 2 from Serious Magic, but Adobe bought the company and will make Ultra an Adobe-only product in July. It will be a dead end for Vegas users, considering everything will eventually migrate to Vista.

Ultimatte looked great at NAB (as always), but it's $1,500 for the software, and is for keying only.

Boris Red is an option, but from what we saw at the booth, it's cumbersome as a keyer. You need to chain various filters together to really get the job done.

I'd like to budget $500 or less for the software. And hopefully, there would be a demo.
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Old April 24th, 2007, 12:56 PM   #2
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Ultra 2 is a fine, fine keyer. No question. I'd get a copy before it's bundle-only. (Like DV Rack. Grab that while you can, too.)

Are you using Vegas's keyer, or the Boris FX LT ridiculousness?
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Old April 24th, 2007, 02:34 PM   #3
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Hi David,

We're using the Vegas keyer, which is pretty rudimentary. I helped design the Grass Valley Model 1200 keyer over a decade ago, using additive techniques, like Ultimatte. I know the handles that I would want today - and that the algorithm can be much more powerful with software, compared to what we were doing in hardware.

I've asked my son to look into Shake. He's got a Mac Book. It wouldn't be the ideal workflow with Vegas, but he's a student, so he can get the software for $250. And we know that Shake won't become obsolete. I'm really concerned that Ultra 2 will be dead the day we move to Vista.

If Vegas has no advanced Chroma keyer, and no good 3rd party support for under $500, that's a real problem for the platform. AVID's high-end software can do *killer* keys. (30 Rock's producer gave examples that they have used on the show, and I was completely fooled when I had seen those scenes broadcasted.) Apple has Shake. Adobe has Ultra. And Adobe can convert the keys to vectors that enable some wild stuff.

I'd make an advanced Chroma Keyer and 3d motion effects my top requests for Vegas 8. It's catch-up time.
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Old April 24th, 2007, 02:40 PM   #4
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A better keyer wouldn't disappoint me, either. Though, I have gotten better results from it than from Commotion's Primatte keyer.

Which "3D motion effects," though? Or do you mean improving what's already there?
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Old April 24th, 2007, 07:29 PM   #5
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Which "3D motion effects," though? Or do you mean improving what's already there?
Specifically, I was thinking of virtual sets and motion tracking, similar to what Ultra offers.

Adobe showed some killer effects at NAB where a key could be converted to vectors and then manipulated in 3d. The vectors could be replicated on a path, and the camera POV could ride another path. The end result was a stack of moving wireframes (that could be optionally filled) in a dynamic 3d space. This would be better for advertising than narrative styles, but it was a great example of how one could generate media from a simple chroma key, rather than relying on a 3d artist to create the raw content.

At the AVID booth the 30 Rock producer showed cases of replacing green areas in TV frames and picture frames with photos and TV content. We've done that kind of thing manually, but 3d motion tracking software would really simplify this and make it more realistic.

So, yeah, I'm thinking of stuff beyond the current 3d capabilities in Vegas.

We haven't moved to HD yet. (We produce for the web.) So, we haven't upgraded since Vegas 5. A top chroma keyer would get us to want to go for a V8!
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Old April 24th, 2007, 08:40 PM   #6
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Was that capability inside Premiere? Or was it in Ultra or After Effects?

I think it speaks well of Vegas that people expect it have capabilities far, far beyond that of any other NLE, and are disappointed when it doesn't. :)
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Old April 25th, 2007, 12:19 AM   #7
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Was that capability inside Premiere? Or was it in Ultra or After Effects?
I seem to remember the demo guy saying it was in Premiere, but I could be wrong. If not Premiere, then After Effects. I arrived at the booth in the middle of the presentation.

BTW, the Vegas/ACID/SoundForge booth was nearby. I'm sure that some of the the guys from Madison would have seen it.

Quote:
I think it speaks well of Vegas that people expect it have capabilities far, far beyond that of any other NLE, and are disappointed when it doesn't. :)
Well...

I don't really expect Vegas to have the vector stuff. I was just putting it out there as an idea for V8 and beyond. What I do expect Vegas to have is a good chroma keying with tracking option, but with Ultra 2 going bye-bye, this is a gaping hole for the platform. I've used Vegas since v2, and would be sad to leave the fold.

AVID, Apple and Adobe all have great chroma keyers and add ons from their company stores. Vegas is getting left in the dust in this critical area.

BTW, here's a car chase we did with multiple layers of the Vegas keyer. It's fun, but won't fool anybody.

http://colonelcrush.com/movie/index/00030301

And here's our latest. It's only got a few frames of keying, and we didn't spend all that much time with it, but the hard edges really jump out:

http://colonelcrush.com/movie/index/00180001

We plan to do a lot more greenscreen work. I want a really good key with little work, and a great key if we massage it. We hope to do some mock news room (virtual set) stuff too, so tracking will be needed as well.

We don't mind buying an add on, but it's coming up empty. :(
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Old April 25th, 2007, 09:03 AM   #8
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My point is that you're comparing Vegas alone to $1200 suites, containing multiple applications, from Adobe and Apple. Neither Premiere, nor FCP, nor Avid have motion tracking by themselves. See what I mean?

In any case, you can get better keys from Vegas. Here's a set of examples:

http://www.david-jimerson.com/Examples.zip
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Old April 25th, 2007, 09:15 AM   #9
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Great Keying examples David.
Thanks for posting those
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Old April 25th, 2007, 01:12 PM   #10
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I would like some suggestions on how to get this clip using a green screen better,(top clip is using a green screen), there are two clips on this page, may take a minute to load:

http://www.hughmobley.com/clips.html
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Old April 25th, 2007, 01:21 PM   #11
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A couple of suggestions at first glance . . .

Shoot progressive if you can. You'll get better key results when you don't have interlace artifacting. You don't have a WHOLE lot of movement here, so it's not as MUCH of a factor, but in general, progressive is better.

Move the subject a bit further away from the green screen. Also, looks like you could use a hair light to counteract some spill. A pink/magenta gel with that should help, too -- opposite color from green, should neutralize the spill.

Subject looks rather orange, probably from the lighting. It's important to match the lighting of the background, or the keyed subject will stick out.

A chroma blur (applied before the chroma keyer) helps to smooth out the edge a bit more.
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Old April 25th, 2007, 08:24 PM   #12
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David,

Nice job on those keys!

We'll probably go with Shake. My son has a Mac Book, he's a student ($250), and there's a demo. Sure, it will probably be a dog on the Mac Book, but we can find that out with the demo (he'll download it when he has enough time to dig in). It will also be a pain to move files and such, but it just might be worth it. We shall see...

Again, I wish there were a similar add-on for Vegas.
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Old April 25th, 2007, 09:12 PM   #13
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Hey, you gotta go with with you gotta go with.

Just some suggestions, as I mentioned above --

Pay careful attention your lighting and your background's lighting -- direction, intensity, and color temperature. The mismatch was working against you in your links there.

Also, soften the edges with a backlight, and again, with a little bit of pink or magenta to kill any green spill (which can cause jagged edges).

And, of course, don't expect the world from 4:1:1 (DV) or 4:2:0 (HDV) color spaces . . .
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Old April 25th, 2007, 10:44 PM   #14
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Pay careful attention your lighting and your background's lighting -- direction, intensity, and color temperature. The mismatch was working against you in your links there.
Good tips. We used fluorescents above and below the screen. One problem is that we mixed electronic and transformer ballast units - they have different temps. We'll get more electronic lights before our next shoot. We're also lacking in the foreground light department. We've picked up a Lowell catalog at NAB and after going through the lineup, we've got our wish-list items circled. (The same units my son was leaning towards before NAB.)

Quote:
And, of course, don't expect the world from 4:1:1 (DV) or 4:2:0 (HDV) color spaces . . .
Well, at least we went progressive! (Or at least pseudo progressive with the GS500.) We've rented an HVX in the past and would love to be using that with our planned lighting!
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Old April 26th, 2007, 12:20 AM   #15
 
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4:2:0 keys very well.
Just because it has 4:2:2 in front of it means almost nothing by comparison to what it once meant.
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