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Best Key Ever! Any idea how they did it?

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Mike Summers
Best Key Ever! Any idea how they did it?
on Jul 7, 2011 at 3:29:23 pm

I use keylight in AE for my green/blue screen video. I try to reach the quality that vspworldwide.com gets with their key but can never reach it. Based off their work would it be possible for anyone to guess what software they to key out their video? You can see a lot of examples on their "actors" page, I'm blown away by their crisp clarity and clean edges around the actors. Any advice on what they're doing right would be much appreciated!

Thank you!


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Kevin Camp
Re: Best Key Ever! Any idea how they did it?
on Jul 7, 2011 at 3:54:00 pm

there are two things that lead to the best keys... a good shot and no compression...

you really want to shoot in a room that is quite large... if you can get the subject to be the same disatnce from the screen as they are from the camera, you can usually have enough room to get very even lighting on the screen and have very little spill to deal with. combine that with good lighting on the subject and you can get very clean edges.

of coarse if you shot that with hdv, you'd still have a mess. but if you can capture uncompressed you'll have great media to work with. you don't need red to capture that either, you can capture straight from most cameras into an nle or capture utility, you just need a system with a good raid.

after that aharon rabinowitz's super tight junk mattes technique and the keylight inside mask tip from their manual should get great results.

one other tip, since being able to reduce a frame will help edges look better, if you are shooting a standing/upright subject, trun the camera sideways so you can better fill the frame, once keyed you'll be able to rotate them and scale them down. it's a simple tip that gets overlooked a lot on a shoot.

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer
KCPQ, KMYQ & KRCW


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Mike Summers
Re: Best Key Ever! Any idea how they did it?
on Jul 7, 2011 at 4:22:53 pm

That was the most helpful advice I've ever gotten online! I can't even tell you how much I appreciate your advice. You mentioned that shooting with hdv will be a mess but how about avchd? I was planning on picking up the Canon XA10 for filming my green screen work only.

Thank you!


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Kevin Camp
Re: Best Key Ever! Any idea how they did it?
on Jul 7, 2011 at 5:31:16 pm

i'm not a photographer, so i dont' want to comment mcuh on the quality of a camera, but looking at the specs, it does have hdmi and component out, so those are two good options if you wanted to capture straight from the camera, before it gets compressed.

as for avchd, it is still compressed quite a bit. the data rate is about the same as hdv, however the h.264 based compression if much much more effcient, meaning it will maintain better image quality.

for keying, though, color resolution is very important. one reason that hdv is so hard to key, is that the color resolution (4:2:0) is half that of a typical 4:2:2 color resolution...

i'm not sure, but i do beleive that avchd is 4:2:0, so the color resolution would be more blocky and harder to key.

you may still be able to get pretty good keys with avchd, but if you wanted the best keys, i'd try to capture prior to the camera's compression.

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer
KCPQ, KMYQ & KRCW


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Michael Szalapski
Re: Best Key Ever! Any idea how they did it?
on Jul 7, 2011 at 6:19:34 pm

Kevin is, as usual, quite right. AVCHD, while it may look great to the human eye, is highly compressed and will result in a less-than-perfect key. If you can find a way to get an uncompressed signal out, go for that.

- The Great Szalam
(The 'Great' stands for 'Not So Great, in fact, Extremely Humble')

No trees were harmed in the creation of this message, but several thousand electrons were mildly inconvenienced.


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Todd Kopriva
Re: Best Key Ever! Any idea how they did it?
on Jul 7, 2011 at 11:41:10 pm

There are a lot of resources that expand on Kevin's good advice here:
"Keying introduction and resources"

Note that that page points to excerpts from Mark Christiansen's book. You should definitely get that book. Mark lays out the details of keying better than anyone I've seen. (Full disclosure: I edited that book, so I may be a little bit biased.)

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Todd Kopriva, Adobe Systems Incorporated
Technical Support for professional video software
After Effects Help & Support
Premiere Pro Help & Support
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Mike Summers
Re: Best Key Ever! Any idea how they did it?
on Jul 9, 2011 at 9:44:48 pm

Great! Thanks. I just bought it on amazon thanks to your recommendation.

I searched the forums for help on finding virtual sets and the info is a bit outdated. I found only one good website cg4tv.com that had decent virtual sets but they are EXPENSIVE! Any ideas on places I can buy quality virtual sets from?

Thank you


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