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Old May 29th, 2012, 04:22 PM   #1
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ideal camera for chromakey

I've done a fair bit of searching, but haven't really got a firm answer.

Is "raw" the best answer for chromakeying? Like, would the new blackmagic camera be the green screen dream? Or is there even a discernable difference between raw and 4:4:4 from a keying standpoint? (can AE even ingest raw or do you have to spit it to prores anyways?)

I know the theories, and have done extensive keying of various formats, but nothing has really stood out to me as "great'. I was on a project that had some awful keys from a red epic, but i wasn't on the post side so I assumed it was operator related.

Do you have any opinions or links to hands-on review/articles of people critically comparing cameras for keying?

Is there a better/lower cost solution than black magic?

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Old May 29th, 2012, 08:57 PM   #2
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Re: ideal camera for chromakey

My experience is that given a single camera the lighting is the make or break factor. Good lighting makes keying easy. (a little simplistic as the post software and operator can still screw it up or make it brilliant)
Taking it the other way, if the lighting is good, a 4:4:4 camera is going to have the most information to work with, therefore yes it should work the best. I went from a 4:2:0 3-CCD pro camera to the xf300 which is 4:2:2 and much cleaner. Huge difference but twice the price. I have keyed footage from the Sony 4:4:4 HDC-1500 and it was unreal. Came from a very nice studio and the camera system costs more than my car and wife's cars combined...actually about twice what our cars cost!

I do mostly commercial/corporate work so the requirements are a bit different from the "film" world. I could care less about interchangeable lenses and shallow DOF for greenscreen. (I use DSLRs for other areas of production.)

In theory the BMD should be brilliant for greenscreen BUT it does come with a hidden cost. Shooting RAW is gonna burn through SSDs like crazy! And storing that footage for editing is going to cost a chunk as well. If you're doing short projects or films, probably manageable. I regularly do full day shoots where I may have to keep 6-7 hours of footage. And several of those clients come back months or even years later to revamp and tweak. With the xf i can easily store the native footage which is full quality. That's the only thing that's keeping me from putting down a deposit on the BMD.

If your doing corporate or broadcast I would give a serious look at the xf100 which is in the same price range, uses the 4:2:2 codec and has the face detect auto focus which actually works! (just like my 300)

For the record, I use Red Giant's Keyer Suite in AE CS6 which is Primatte and some very nice utilities. My greenscreen studio is permanently lit and has a painted wall cyc. I spent a few weeks tweaking the lighting and now keying footage is literally a 2 min job.

Just for grins I tested my DSLRs (7D and 5D mkIII) and was pretty surprised that the only real issue was the aliasing. The 7D was terrible...5D mkIII was passable if the end product was 720p or smaller.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 12:07 AM   #3
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Re: ideal camera for chromakey

Once again, lighting is the most important part of greenscreen. You need to focus on lighting your talent as well. The lighting on the talent should be as close to your background plate as possible. Don't use soft 3-point lighting and then insert your talent into desert background with nothing but hard shadows.
Once you get lighting down, camera selection is the next thing to look at.
Avoid DV/miniDV/DVcam/hdv at all costs! There just isn't enough colour information to pull a good key.
I personally find that RED and Alexa footage give the best keys. They suck to work with because of the large file sizes, but the end results are good. Next up I would say anything that records 4:2:2 colour. I like my HPX2000 for chroma key because it records AVC-Intra100.
Avoid cameras with a lot of noise. My HVX200 Record DVCProHD with 4:2:2 color, but the amount of noise makes keying a challenge.

My best suggestion for a good, budget, greenscreen setup would be a sony fs100 and a NanoFlash. Best setup if money wasn't an issue, Alexa recording ArriRaw.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 07:04 AM   #4
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Re: ideal camera for chromakey

like guys say, for a good green screen the most important part is lighting, then you'll need resolution and high data rate, out of all different cameras i tried for a green screen RED is the best, gives you perfect key, haven't tried Alexa though, so if budget permits rent scarlet, but if it's just for the web, any decent 4:2:0 with good lighting will do, well, the higher the better:)
and try to flip it 90, you'll get twice resolution and noticeably better edge.
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Old June 16th, 2012, 09:43 AM   #5
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Re: ideal camera for chromakey

It all matters, lighting, screen color, keying software (or hardware), compression, camera, lens, settings, etc.

We use Sony EX3's 10bit HDSDI out and record uncompressed. Is it good? Yes.
It is great? No. Honestly, I want more. More resolution, bit depth and possibly higher frame rates.
This is why I am hoping The U will agree to purchase a RED Epic.
Jacques Mersereau
University of Michigan-Video Studio Manager
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