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Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)

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Simon Ubsdell
Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 23, 2014 at 4:14:34 pm

Looking more closely at the Apple Keyer in FCP X and Motion 5 recently, made me aware that it is pretty unsuited to most keying situations that require you to resolve fine edge detail.

Some sharp wit commented recently that it's great for keying bald men - I think that needs to be revised to "bald men in tightly fitting catsuits".

Here's a tutorial that shows you how to build your own keyer in Motion 5 that will both allow you to maintain fine edge detail and transparency, and set up a spill suppression routine that will give you better results than the extremely curious ones you get from Apple's own offering.







I've posted this in the Techniques forum already, but I thought it would make an interesting talking point - why is Apple's keyer not better than it is? I think I know the answer but what do you think?

On a side note, it was interesting in preparing this tutorial to see how well suited Motion is to building the kinds of composites you need for this job.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Eli Hollander
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 23, 2014 at 4:51:24 pm

Simon,

Thank you for your helpful expertise and plug-ins over the years; I have found them helpful and enriching. I appreciate your contributions.

About the keyer, your tutorial is helpful and full of subtle "tricks." I was wondering if the method you are outlining can be made into a FCP X custom filter so that one could achieve similar results from within FCP X?


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 23, 2014 at 5:05:17 pm

[Eli Hollander] "About the keyer, your tutorial is helpful and full of subtle "tricks." I was wondering if the method you are outlining can be made into a FCP X custom filter so that one could achieve similar results from within FCP X?"

Thanks, Eli.

Yes, indeed. As I mentioned to Jeremy over on the Techniques forum, it would be perfectly possible to publish the controls you need to be able to make use of this inside FCP X.

You'd obviously need to start building it in a Motion Effects project rather than just a standard composition.

There might be complications I haven't thought of but in principle it should work. It's important to make sure you sue clones throughout where indicated rather than substituting duplicates.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Bret Williams
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 23, 2014 at 9:22:12 pm

Aww, c'mon Simon. HINT HINT! People would pay loads for a keyed that works in X as good as your tutorial.


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Herb Sevush
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 23, 2014 at 4:59:54 pm

Simon, that was fantastic. Thank you.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 23, 2014 at 5:01:54 pm

Thanks very much, Herb :) It pleases me no end that you found it interesting.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Shawn Miller
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 23, 2014 at 7:47:42 pm

Very well done, Simon. Shows how valuable a fundamental understanding of compositing can be. I believe you mentioned your intention to try PixelConduit at some point... were you ever able to do that? Do you see PC as a viable alternative to the built in keyers for FCPX and Motion?


Thanks,

Shawn



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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 23, 2014 at 7:57:35 pm

[Shawn Miller] "Very well done, Simon. Shows how valuable a fundamental understanding of compositing can be. I believe you mentioned your intention to try PixelConduit at some point... were you ever able to do that? Do you see PC as a viable alternative to the built in keyers for FCPX and Motion?"

Thanks, Shawn.

Obviously you will know that this is just scratching the surface of a huge and very complex topic (and hugely over-simplifying in the process) but I thought it would be useful for less experienced users to understand the concepts under-the-hood of their favourite keyers.

Knowing how to make it happen means you can get better results than just pulling the sliders around without really understanding what they do - an exercise in frustration for a lot of users I have encountered.

As for Conduit, I started using it many years ago and it really is an amazingly good thing - in terms of keying it really is a pretty high end tool quality-wise and from the perspective of being able to build really powerful keying tools from the basic building blocks. It is very definitely not a toy in any sense (unlike some of the rubbish that Apple offer up as professional!)

Pauli is a massive talent - it's just a shame that he never seems to have attracted the investment to make something more of what he's developed.

Sadly it's not very performant in Motion (and hence FCP X) which is a shame. But I'd love to see it get some more attention.

I used to use Conduit Live for real-time on-set keying and that's a really brilliant tool as well.

Have you used it much?

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Shawn Miller
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 23, 2014 at 9:35:46 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "...Obviously you will know that this is just scratching the surface of a huge and very complex topic (and hugely over-simplifying in the process) but I thought it would be useful for less experienced users to understand the concepts under-the-hood of their favourite keyers.

Knowing how to make it happen means you can get better results than just pulling the sliders around without really understanding what they do - an exercise in frustration for a lot of users I have encountered."


Absolutely! I was really impressed by your ability to pare your explanations down to the basics and to present only the most useful information on the subject. IMO, that's an enviable talent in and of itself. :-)

[Simon Ubsdell] "As for Conduit, I started using it many years ago and it really is an amazingly good thing - in terms of keying it really is a pretty high end tool quality-wise and from the perspective of being able to build really powerful keying tools from the basic building blocks. It is very definitely not a toy in any sense (unlike some of the rubbish that Apple offer up as professional!)
"


Totally agree. I think I first heard about Conduit from Alex Lindsay at NAB a number of years ago. I really loved the mission; to make a stable, powerful and inexpensive compositing tool that didn't require a fire breathing beast of a machine (like everything from Autodesk did). I believe I purchased a license that night when I got back to my hotel room.

[Simon Ubsdell] "Pauli is a massive talent - it's just a shame that he never seems to have attracted the investment to make something more of what he's developed."

Yes, I believe that's why he dropped support for Windows. Just not enough time/resources to develop for multiple platforms. Even so, I also wish Conduit was more popular. It's one of those tools that everyone should be using. I mean, the core application is free, isn't it? And if I'm not mistaken, the advanced add on pack (or whatever it's called) is like $100 US... right? Anyone on a Mac who is remotely interested in compositing really should have PixelConduit - no excuses. :-)

[Simon Ubsdell] "Have you used it much?"

Yes, I was able to use it on a few real projects before the demise of the Windows version. It was a much more powerful application than the price tag suggested, and I really enjoyed using it. I started learning Nuke a few years after that (for my node based compositing fix), but it's just way out of my price range. Now I'm slowly embracing MambaFX, hoping that the industry acceptance of Mystika will fund further development. As much as I like Adobe's suite of tools, I also like to have a parallel set of applications that I can rely on... just in case. :-)

Shawn



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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 12:14:17 pm

[Shawn Miller] "Totally agree. I think I first heard about Conduit from Alex Lindsay at NAB a number of years ago. I really loved the mission; to make a stable, powerful and inexpensive compositing tool that didn't require a fire breathing beast of a machine (like everything from Autodesk did). I believe I purchased a license that night when I got back to my hotel room. "

It was actually Conduit that go me into the wonderful world of compositing in the first place - it was an amazing discovery. There's no better place to start learning and the results you can get with it are pretty much as good as it gets.

[Shawn Miller] "Even so, I also wish Conduit was more popular. It's one of those tools that everyone should be using. I mean, the core application is free, isn't it? And if I'm not mistaken, the advanced add on pack (or whatever it's called) is like $100 US... right?"

I couldn't agree more. It's a ridiculously good deal - it was incredibly cheap before but the new free version is a no-brainer and you can do truly amazing things with it.

[Shawn Miller] "Now I'm slowly embracing MambaFX, hoping that the industry acceptance of Mystika will fund further development."

Yes, that's looking pretty interesting. I did a bit of work on Jaleo about 15 years ago and it was powerful but horrendously badly designed and I moved onto DS instead. But it's looking much more promising these days.

As you say, best to try and know as much as you can about everything ;-)

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Alan Okey
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 27, 2014 at 5:58:08 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "It was actually Conduit that go me into the wonderful world of compositing in the first place - it was an amazing discovery. There's no better place to start learning and the results you can get with it are pretty much as good as it gets."

Thanks for the fantastic work, Simon!

For me, it was Combustion (RIP) that got me into compositing, then Shake (also RIP), but I got into Conduit several years ago back when dvGarage was still selling it (version 1.5 and 2.2).

As brilliant and comprehensive as your tutorial is, I couldn't help but feel that the project felt cumbersome to put together in Motion. I kept thinking how much faster it would have gone in Conduit or in any other node-based compositor. It's difficult (for me, at least) to really see in detail what's happening in a layer-based system like Motion compared to seeing a node tree. However, you've done a masterful job of achieving great results in Motion.

For anyone who is interested in seeing Conduit in action, I highly recommend Alex Lindsay's excellent tutorial videos on the dvGarage site:

http://www.dvgarage.com/conduit-2-samples


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 27, 2014 at 6:34:28 pm

[Alan Okey] "I couldn't help but feel that the project felt cumbersome to put together in Motion. I kept thinking how much faster it would have gone in Conduit or in any other node-based compositor. It's difficult (for me, at least) to really see in detail what's happening in a layer-based system like Motion compared to seeing a node tree."

Thanks, Alan. I completely agree that this stuff is more easily achieved in a node-based environment.

Like you I graduated from Conduit to Shake (and then to Nuke) - and Conduit is a great place to start learning about compositing and I can't recommend it highly enough, especially now that the entry level package is completely free.

There were a few reasons I wanted to show how to do this in Motion.

First, I suspect a lot of users have opened Motion and never go beyond doing some basic titling work, and I'm keen to show that there's potentially a lot more to it than that - which is why I started my Motion tutorials on YouTube back last summer with the aim of pushing the envelope beyond the kind of thing you usually see.

https://www.youtube.com/my_videos?o=U

Secondly, I suspect most editors would be much more intimidated by a node-based demonstration in an application they had never opened.

There are some concepts here that it's extremely useful to know about if all you've even done is push around the sliders on your favourite third party keyer and I think that knowing them, even in only the theory, can really help get better results in the long term.

Thirdly, I was interested to see how Motion would compare to After Effects at this kind of job and in my view it's every bit as flexible, if not more so in this particular case. Again you often hear that Motion is unsuitable for compositing whereas After Effects is held up as an industry standard.

(As an aside, I don't find doing this sort of thing at all cumbersome in Motion - but that's probably just familiarity. I do think that Clones are a very powerful tool in Motion that actually help to confer some of the benefits associated with nodes.)

Personally, I would avoid Ae for compositing and go straight to Nuke or Shake as I don't find it gives me enough flexibility and it can get pretty cumbersome for this sort of work. But just as I've wrangled Motion into doing the job here, there are legions of Ae users who will bend the tools to do pretty much anything.

All in all, though, it makes sense to use the application you're most comfortable using - whether it's objectively the best tool for the job is very often less relevant.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Bret Williams
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 23, 2014 at 9:20:42 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "Some sharp wit commented recently that it's great for keying bald men"

I both made and resemble that comment.


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Charlie Austin
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 23, 2014 at 10:39:29 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] " why is Apple's keyer not better than it is? I think I know the answer but what do you think?"

Because they are incompetent and the keyed works great for youtube cat videos so why bother improving it? :-D

Nice tutorial BTW. Thanks for that!

Anyway, assuming my answer to your question is correct... do you think the built Apple in keyer is just badly designed? Or does it just need some more love to make it better? You know, for lazy people such as myself. ;-)

-------------------------------------------------------------

~ My FCPX Babbling blog ~
~"It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools."~
~"The function you just attempted is not yet implemented"~


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Bret Williams
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 3:37:45 am

As far as keyers go it's the most intelligent, wonderfully designed keyer I've ever seen. Just doesn't quite get you all the way there on fine detail or edges. Especially with compressed footage. I had some material that I had AVCHD 1080p versions, and access yo the sony RAW verIons. The raw can't be read by X yet, but I was able to transfer it to prores 4444 via resolve and it keyed pretty darn well. Although I was downscaling in a 1080p sequence. So the problems might have been the same on a pixel for pixel size basis.


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Paul Neumann
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 5:10:20 am

Luckily I was only testing some new lights when this happened. I had a co-worker stand in on the green screen. He was wearing a light blue shirt. I took the footage into X and as soon as I dropped the keyer on the clip it keyed out his shirt. I selected the green (it even showed up in the color range as nothing but green) but would not let go of the blue in his shirt. Nothing I tried worked. Same result every time. Guy with a see-through shirt on a green background. Same clip in Ultra keyed just fine.


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Charlie Austin
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 5:29:04 am

Weird, I've had much different results. While I agree with Simon in that the edge detail is, uh… difficult to get a sharp key on, it works ridiculously well on fairly crappy green/blue screen stuff. It needs some love, but it can get great results without a lot of work or, in my case, not much keying expertise. ;-)

I'm cutting some stuff from an early version of a feature, so it's all raw, ungraded dailies. I got some really great looking keys just by dropping it on the clip and selecting a some color ranges. Like, surprisingly good considering a lot of the blue/green backgrounds were fairly… awful. And that's being charitable.

Also, though I'm just working on advertising for it, it's probably a 100 million dollar movie!

No, not that one. ;-)

-------------------------------------------------------------

~ My FCPX Babbling blog ~
~"It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools."~
~"The function you just attempted is not yet implemented"~


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 11:46:24 am
Last Edited By Simon Ubsdell on Jan 24, 2014 at 12:17:04 pm

[Bret Williams] "As far as keyers go it's the most intelligent, wonderfully designed keyer I've ever seen. Just doesn't quite get you all the way there on fine detail or edges."

[Charlie Austin] "While I agree with Simon in that the edge detail is, uh… difficult to get a sharp key on, it works ridiculously well"

Sorry to disagree but ...

To say that a keyer works "ridiculously", "wonderfully" well but it doesn't resolve edge detail is like saying you've got a "ridiculously", "wonderfully" great car but it doesn't go round corners.

Don't take my word for it - ask any expert and they'll tell you that resolving edge detail is the acid test of whether or not a keyer is fit for purpose. And the Apple keyer is quite clearly not fit for purpose on this basis.

it's a great keyer for a world where the roads only go in straight lines, but even you guys over the pond must need to pull into a gas station once in a while and what do you do then?

The cold, hard reality is that keying is a world with pretty much only tricky corners and very few nice straight roads.

Going back to your gag, Bret, it's fine for keying bald men wearing very tight clothing who move very slowly indeed, but it's not often that you're gifted with such delightful material.

The reason I'm labouring this point is that it's not the same discussion as whether or not one thinks FCP X is fit for purpose, which is largely a matter of taste rather than objective measurement (although there are three key things missing which make it not "fit for purpose" for my particular workflow niche, much as I like it otherwise).

The Apple Keyer fails the "fit for purpose" test because it doesn't satisfy the key (sorry) requirement for any keyer. Cutting a hole out of your greenscreen is not the test - it's whether it can do so in a manner that has sufficient precision and subtlety to create a great composite.

To repeat the essential point - resolving edge detail is the universally accepted objective test of whether a keyer is good enough.

Apple's is not.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Charlie Austin
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 4:17:24 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "Sorry to disagree but ...

To say that a keyer works "ridiculously", "wonderfully" well but it doesn't resolve edge detail is like saying you've got a "ridiculously", "wonderfully" great car but it doesn't go round corners."


No need to be sorry.. I mean, you're right. I guess I should qualify my praise and say that it works ridiculously wonderfully well for my purposes. That being quickly and easily getting a decent looking key from barely adequate green/blue screen material for an offline presentation.

-------------------------------------------------------------

~ My FCPX Babbling blog ~
~"It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools."~
~"The function you just attempted is not yet implemented"~


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 4:25:16 pm

[Charlie Austin] "quickly and easily getting a decent looking key from barely adequate green/blue screen material for an offline presentation"

Completely agreed. Strictly offline only. For that purpose it's sure handy to have around.

But they could have made the darn thing a whole lot better ....... ;-)

It's just not in their DNA, as Ron Brinkmann observes (and he should know a lot better than any of us):

http://digitalcomposting.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/x-vs-pro/

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 4:25:32 pm

I agree with Simon.

The keyer is simultaneously great and terrible.

Great idea, terrible execution.

It doesn't not produce wonderful results in anything that would be worth sending beyond a rough cut. But it's great for rough cuts.


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 4:33:14 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "The keyer is simultaneously great and terrible.

Great idea, terrible execution."


The question that intrigues me is why is the execution so bad?

They could have hired any one of a number of talented people who could have helped them make something great ...

Hell, this is Apple, they could have bought The Foundry!

But they so clearly didn't - this very much looks like the work of a team that got pulled off the phone side for a couple of weeks. Image processing for the Instagram market.

They used to employ the team that made Shake and they let them all go.

They managed to retain a lot of the halo effect that came from having distributed Shake as an Apple product (which it wasn't), but I seriously doubt that they kept any of the skillset on board that could deliver at that kind of level or anything close.

Such a shame.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 7:43:42 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "The question that intrigues me is why is the execution so bad?"

Well, I think that the keyer is remarkably fast. It is quite fun to scrub the keyer icon and see a near real time 'key' of the footage, and I think that's Apple's focus for the moment. Speed.

Quality will come later, or someone will bring one to market. For better or worse.

I'm not making excuses, I'd love to be able to do quality work in one program instead of multiple, but it's not here yet.

Jeremy


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 9:00:50 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "Well, I think that the keyer is remarkably fast. It is quite fun to scrub the keyer icon and see a near real time 'key' of the footage, and I think that's Apple's focus for the moment. Speed.

Quality will come later, or someone will bring one to market. For better or worse."


Because I'm a mean-spirited curmudgeon, I'd say that Apple's focus is always "flash" rather than speed.

(Not that "Flash" obviously!!)

What looks good in a demo, that's what really drives the development process.

As always, see the incredibly perceptive analysis by Ron Brinkmann who knows the inside story better than either you or me- and whose high-end credentials are something to weep over:

http://digitalcomposting.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/x-vs-pro/

"See, here’s the thing with how features happen at Apple to a great extent – product development is often driven by how well things can be demoed. Maybe not explicitly – nobody ever told me to only design features that demoed well – but the nature of the organization effectively makes it work out that way."

I know I keep coming across as mean - but I really, really want Apple to step up and do better. They're just not putting on a quality act right now.

But they could if they tried. Surely?

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 10:19:46 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "Because I'm a mean-spirited curmudgeon, I'd say that Apple's focus is always "flash" rather than speed."

I think we are saying the same thing, just in different ways.

To be able to scrub a keyer and have it show up as keyed in real time, is amazing. It is great marketing, 'flash', and makes for great demos. I agree with you.

It makes feel good when I roughly composite a key. It only sucks when you want to use it just to find it doesn't work very well.

[Simon Ubsdell] "As always, see the incredibly perceptive analysis by Ron Brinkmann who knows the inside story better than either you or me- and whose high-end credentials are something to weep over:

http://digitalcomposting.wordpress.com/2011/06/28/x-vs-pro/"


I remember this article. I do think that Apple tows the line between creative people and creative professionals. There is no doubt they want to appeal to the broad middle as it sells the most product.

[Simon Ubsdell] "I know I keep coming across as mean - but I really, really want Apple to step up and do better. They're just not putting on a quality act right now.

But they could if they tried. Surely?"


I think so. I hope so. There are strokes of genius all over FCPX/Motion, but it is going to take a little while to stabilize and mature. I'm still hanging in there, and there's nothing wrong with being critical as we have been more than patient with all of this.

I also think, and this is subjective, that Apple is in the middle of huge technological change. The very Quicktime engine that has powered the media capabilities in the OS for decades is slowly being retired, and that is why Apple killed everything off around it. The new system in place, is still being worked on and is not quite a full replacement. Apple moves slowly in this sense, they always have. They release capability gradually, and sometimes, it doesn't feel fast enough. It's never fast enough. On top of that there's intel's hardware delays, and it's hardware on which Apple is betting the farm in the pro community, at least for now.

Jeremy


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Walter Soyka
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 28, 2014 at 9:46:28 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "Quality will come later, or someone will bring one to market. For better or worse."

Sadly, I think there are plenty of issues where first-party quality never arrived at all. Constant QuickTime gamma/profile/swing confusion, I'm looking at you.

I guess there's no need for keying to be a first-party solution, but the presence of what Simon has brilliantly termed "school boy errors" -- and the fact that a better keyer can be easily built by a customer with the existing toolset as Simon shows here -- is dismaying. They did 98% of what they needed to do, but not the last 2% to really make it work. If that last 2% never comes, it almost makes the 98% effort a waste.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 28, 2014 at 9:54:20 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Sadly, I think there are plenty of issues where first-party quality never arrived at all. Constant QuickTime gamma/profile/swing confusion, I'm looking at you."

Oh it arrived. It arrived in the death of Quicktime as we know it! ;)

[Walter Soyka] "I guess there's no need for keying to be a first-party solution, but the presence of what Simon has brilliantly termed "school boy errors" -- and the fact that a better keyer can be easily built by a customer with the existing toolset as Simon shows here -- is dismaying. They did 98% of what they needed to do, but not the last 2% to really make it work. If that last 2% never comes, it almost makes the 98% effort a waste."

Except for the people who think it's awesome.

I also think it's the fastest rough cut keyer available. For that, I praise it. It is really easy to get a look roughed out, and content approved/recut, before moving on to the more detailed work in some other application.

In short, it's not worth nothing, but really close to nothing.


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Walter Soyka
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:19:28 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "I also think it's the fastest rough cut keyer available. For that, I praise it. It is really easy to get a look roughed out, and content approved/recut, before moving on to the more detailed work in some other application. In short, it's not worth nothing, but really close to nothing."

Fair. The keyer is fast, and I was really stoked about it with the bald interviewee. But you'd think the NLE purpose-built for internet cat videos would have a solid keyer, what with all that hair!

(I kid!)

I just looked it up, and this is what 2013 Walter had to say about the FCPX keyer [link]:

[Walter Soyka] "I'm finding that the FCPX keyer is just insanely fast, and has pretty decent auto-settings -- but I'm still struggling a bit refining the edges on hair to the point where I am happy with them. (This may be operator error, and I'm going to give it another go.)"

I will try pulling a key in Mamba when I get back to the office. I do expect that will be both very fast and very good.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:05:33 pm
Last Edited By Simon Ubsdell on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:18:03 pm

[Walter Soyka] "They did 98% of what they needed to do, but not the last 2% to really make it work. If that last 2% never comes, it almost makes the 98% effort a waste."

Thanks for the kind words, Walter.

I think you're being way too generous to Apple. As I pointed out below, the single objective measure of whether a keyer is fit for purpose is not whether it can cut a hole in your backing but whether it can resolve edge detail. On that score it's essentially a 100% fail.

It also worth remembering, as I think you are doing here, our discussion about the defective lightwrap - which at the very least represents exceedingly poor quality control.

More than the details of what's gone wrong, which are in themselves intriguing, I'm interested in what it says about Apple's approach to pro video.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Walter Soyka
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:30:32 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "I think you're being way too generous to Apple. As I pointed out below, the single objective measure of whether a keyer is fit for purpose is not whether it can cut a hole in your backing but whether it can resolve edge detail. On that score it's essentially a 100% fail."

Being overly generous to Apple is not something I've been accused of much lately!

I was referring to development effort. I think we are really saying the same thing. I suspect the amount of work they would have to do to fix the keyer is relatively trivial compared to the amount of work they did to get it to the state it's in today.


[Simon Ubsdell] "It also worth remembering, as I think you are doing here, our discussion about the defective lightwrap - which at the very least represents exceedingly poor quality control. More than the details of what's gone wrong, which are in themselves intriguing, I'm interested in what it says about Apple's approach to pro video."

Maybe they don't know it's a problem (i.e., the QC team doesn't know what to look for, or the beta program is too small and not doing the kind of work that would show this flaw).

Maybe they do know it's a problem, but don't care (i.e., it doesn't affect a large enough portion of the user base to be worth the effort to fix).

Is it ignorance or apathy? I don't know and I don't care!

*rimshot*

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 29, 2014 at 2:20:20 am

[Walter Soyka] "I was referring to development effort. I think we are really saying the same thing. I suspect the amount of work they would have to do to fix the keyer is relatively trivial compared to the amount of work they did to get it to the state it's in today."

But at what cost to performance? Could we still scrub a thumbnail or get realtime playback?

I truly think that's what Apple is going for here, a promise of near "real time". At least for now.


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 29, 2014 at 12:29:31 pm
Last Edited By Simon Ubsdell on Jan 29, 2014 at 12:42:23 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Maybe they don't know it's a problem (i.e., the QC team doesn't know what to look for, or the beta program is too small and not doing the kind of work that would show this flaw).

Maybe they do know it's a problem, but don't care (i.e., it doesn't affect a large enough portion of the user base to be worth the effort to fix).

Is it ignorance or apathy? I don't know and I don't care! "


I know it's going to look like I'm labouring this point excessively but I do care ;-)

And I care because of what it might say about the culture at Apple - which in turn might affect one's opinion of their entire pro video enterprise.

Let's look at the scenario here.

Your name is Joe and you're the developer who's been tasked with building the light wrap component, and If you know anything at all about light wrap (and even if you don't) this is probably no more than the work of a few hours if you're being slow.

To recap, you take the matte output of the keyer (already calculated) and you blur it.

You then subtract the un-blurred matte from the blurred version.

You use the resulting edge matte to composite a blurred version of the background back over the keyed foreground.

You add a couple of sliders to adjust the blend amount and the blur depth for the matte, and you add a couple of compositing options for the blend.

Because this isn't your first time doing this kind of compositing job (please tell me this isn't your first time!!), you'll have made yourself a note to check that you've handled the edge pixels correctly in your blurring operations - because it's an easy enough mistake to make, but you don't make it twice!

(Let's just remind ourselves that there's almost nothing to building a light wrap beyond the blurring operations.)

Then, if you know anything about developing a compositing application, you test what you've done across your ample collection of test footage - which you will make absolutely certain contains the commonest green/blue screen scenario, namely a talking head where the lower half of the body is cropped at the bottom edge of the frame.

Because there's almost nothing to this operation, you'll at least remember to check that you've set the blurs correctly at this point. If nothing else you'll want to verify that you've set the range for the blur depth to your satisfaction.

At this point your supervisor will come over and ask you how it's looking - and remember to ask you if you've set your edge pixels to blur correctly. Hey Joe, let's see how it looks at an extreme setting, he'll say, because he's also familiar with scenarios where this has been overlooked. (I mean I take it that supervisor guy knows a little bit about compositing even if Joe is not that hot on it. There is someone at Apple who knows about compositing, right?)

But this didn't happen. It got signed off just like that with the most obvious error in place - in fact, the only error that you really needed to look out for.

Now if Joe is like any other developer out in the real world, he will go home and in the wee small hours of the night he'll be awake wondering if there's a way he could have made his light wrap better. And he'll probably think, you know what, I bet I forgot to check my edge pixels and he'll come in early the next morning to fix it - if he hasn't rushed across to town to fix it in the middle of the night.

But he didn't.

Then the product gets released, and still if he was a typical developer Joe would be worrying away at whether he could have done a better job and he'll spend his downtime worrying away at the keyer looking for possible improvements.

Or at the very least he'll have enough pride and/or interest in his own work to keep playing with the keyer to see whether it works as well as he and the rest of the team had hoped. Because the sad fact of the matter is that most developers can never let anything go - even long after it's released. And because most developers expect that their products will continue to grow beyond the moment of their first release - updates and upgrades which will make their creation even better than the original conception.

But in Joe's case this didn't happen. Ever.

And here's the really depressing thing for me. Not only did Joe not care enough to look at his own work after it was finished. No-one else working on the keyer ever bothered to check if it all worked perfectly.

Not in the period before its release - and not once in the years after. Not to this very day.

No-one at Apple pro Apps was interested enough in their own keying product to spend their own time playing with it and discover this elementary mistake.

Really??

No-one at Apple actually uses this stuff?

Yes.

That scenario I can believe.

I can believe that pro video is simply not in their lifeblood the way it is for the majority of people who use their pro video products. "Just about good enough but only barely" is as far as they take it and no further.

Whereas the evidence suggests that in the real world of pro video product development, the best you can do can always be made better. Making the best even better is what gets you out of bed in the morning and keeps you up at night.

At Apple there is clearly a culture that says make it flash, don't spend too long on it and once it's done don't waste any more time thinking about it.

Just to come back round to your point about beta-testing - beta-testing is pretty useless for picking up stuff like this unless you're very lucky. You simply have to have systems in place to pick up basic technical flaws - even if it's just your co-workers taking sufficient interest in what you're doing.

So I don't blame Apple's scanty beta testing program - I blame the lack of pride in their job of the people doing the work, sorry to say.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 29, 2014 at 1:52:52 pm

I agree that aspects of fcpx that feel hasty.

You make a good case. I have no idea what it takes to develop something like fcpx. As a whole, and not drilled down to one effect, I don't think it's necessarily easy.

I don't know the hypothetical development environment. Any one of us could spin it another way where Joe is waiting on some sort of update to apply better blur strategies. Or maybe Joe knows something else is coming and decides that it's not worth fixing it since it's all going to change anyway.

Maybe not enough people have reported that the keyer sucks and there's no light warp edge crop.

I don't really know. Apple could fix the keyer, I'm sure they have the capability. Why they haven't is a mystery.

I've submitted bugs to feedback and have actually received a response and asked for proof. I've sent proof and those bugs were squashed in the next version. So, Joe is busy doing something, he just doesn't seem to be super concerned with the keyer.


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 29, 2014 at 2:03:00 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "I have no idea what it takes to develop something like fcpx. As a whole, and not drilled down to one effect, I don't think it's necessarily easy. "

There is a danger of talking about building an NLE as if it were the summit of all human endeavour. There are more complicated things that people have managed to achieve in far smaller time frames and with far more limited financial resources!

[Jeremy Garchow] "Any one of us could spin it another way where Joe is waiting on some sort of update to apply better blur strategies."

I think it would be pretty hard to claim something like that - this is probably one of the most basic image processing functions there is and any and all issues surrounding it are well known. But I could be wrong.

[Jeremy Garchow] "Apple could fix the keyer, I'm sure they have the capability. Why they haven't is a mystery. "

Let's ask the question a different way. Supposing you had left a flash frame in one of your projects and it had gone live, would you not do everything you could to fix it? Even if no-one else knew it was there.

Isn't that what makes you a professional? Your pride in your work and your determination to make sure it is as entirely free from errors as you can make it.

Either Apple can't spot the flash frame (very bad) or they know that the flash frame is there and they just don't care (very, very bad).

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 29, 2014 at 2:58:01 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "There is a danger of talking about building an NLE as if it were the summit of all human endeavour. There are more complicated things that people have managed to achieve in far smaller time frames and with far more limited financial resources!"

I hear you. I also think that it's not a trivial exercise.

Yes, you'd think with all the time that Apple has had, fcpx would be further along. Although it has come a long way from that fairly dismal first release. Again, I could probably attribute this to Apple knowing what was coming in the form of a MacPro and getting things to jive on dual GPUs (a new endeavor for Apple who once shunned the need of dual GPUs). I've mentioned it before, but I'm not trying to make excuses here. I try to take Apple as the sum of its parts. They aren't just a pro content creation software company, and so I have to take the good with the bad. The straightforward with the confusing.

I do think that most of what we are taking about here boils down to performance and what FCPX can do on even the slimmest of Apple hardware. At some point, certain pieces are going to suffer?

[Simon Ubsdell] "I think it would be pretty hard to claim something like that - this is probably one of the most basic image processing functions there is and any and all issues surrounding it are well known. But I could be wrong."

Since little ole me can build a light wrap in fcpx itself using nothing but mattes and transfer modes, I know that building a light wrap isn't hard or CPU expensive. I don't think you're wrong. I also think the reason for a busted lightwrap is not because Apple is incapable, but I can see how it would feel that way.



[Simon Ubsdell] "Let's ask the question a different way. Supposing you had left a flash frame in one of your projects and it had gone live, would you not do everything you could to fix it? Even if no-one else knew it was there."

Of course I'd fix it, and it would keep me up at night.

Maybe Apple doesn't care becuase you, Bret, and I are the only people who do. Everyone else seems pleased.

So, what does that say about us??? ;)


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Herb Sevush
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 29, 2014 at 3:03:05 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "Maybe Apple doesn't care because you, Bret, and I are the only people who do. Everyone else seems pleased.
So, what does that say about us??? ;)"


That your professional.

Herb Sevush
Zebra Productions
---------------------------
nothin' attached to nothin'
"Deciding the spine is the process of editing" F. Bieberkopf


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 29, 2014 at 3:48:36 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "Of course I'd fix it, and it would keep me up at night.

Maybe Apple doesn't care becuase you, Bret, and I are the only people who do. Everyone else seems pleased.

So, what does that say about us??? ;)"


Haha. Yes, it's worrying to be the kind of person that worries about such stuff ;-)

Won't get us a job at Apple, though.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Shawn Miller
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 29, 2014 at 6:37:06 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "Just to come back round to your point about beta-testing - beta-testing is pretty useless for picking up stuff like this unless you're very lucky. You simply have to have systems in place to pick up basic technical flaws - even if it's just your co-workers taking sufficient interest in what you're doing.

So I don't blame Apple's scanty beta testing program - I blame the lack of pride in their job of the people doing the work, sorry to say."


I like your scenario Simon, and I completely agree that it's plausible. Let me add a wrinkle to your thought process... from a software development standpoint, there may be absolutely nothing wrong the keyer! I think it's just as possible that edge refinement wasn't part of the spec to begin with... so, not only did Joe (or Josephine) do his/her job, but they probably slept just fine knowing that they built the keyer 'to spec'. In that case, there would be nothing for QA/test to catch; does the keyer crash - no, is it fast - yes, does it work as expected, yes - pass.

It's possible that the product team doesn't think that editors need that sort of complexity or control. So, this really isn't a technical flaw, but a feature found in most other keyers... just not this one.

Shawn



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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 29, 2014 at 7:29:08 pm

[Shawn Miller] "I think it's just as possible that edge refinement wasn't part of the spec to begin with... "

Sorry, Shawn - I think I may have not made it clear what I was talking about here. This is looping back to an earlier thread where we were talking about how the lightwrap makes a complete mess of the edges of your image because the blur operation hasn't been set up correctly:

http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/335/64474

Here's the screen grab I posted again to make it clear what we were talking about:



So, nothing as "complicated" or demanding as edge control.

Just a complete hash made of a feature they did decide to implement.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Shawn Miller
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 29, 2014 at 8:26:49 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "[Shawn Miller] "I think it's just as possible that edge refinement wasn't part of the spec to begin with... "

Sorry, Shawn - I think I may have not made it clear what I was talking about here. This is looping back to an earlier thread where we were talking about how the lightwrap makes a complete mess of the edges of your image because the blur operation hasn't been set up correctly:

http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/335/64474

Here's the screen grab I posted again to make it clear what we were talking about:"


Ah, I see. I did misunderstand, thanks for the correction. Reading through the thread, I think you're right. This does seem like a case of, 'it's good enough, they'll never notice' product development.

Shawn



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Walter Soyka
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 30, 2014 at 4:53:32 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "No-one at Apple pro Apps was interested enough in their own keying product to spend their own time playing with it and discover this elementary mistake. Really?? No-one at Apple actually uses this stuff? Yes. That scenario I can believe."

Sad, but probably true.



[Simon Ubsdell] "Just to come back round to your point about beta-testing - beta-testing is pretty useless for picking up stuff like this unless you're very lucky. You simply have to have systems in place to pick up basic technical flaws - even if it's just your co-workers taking sufficient interest in what you're doing. So I don't blame Apple's scanty beta testing program - I blame the lack of pride in their job of the people doing the work, sorry to say."

I disagree a bit here. I've been on beta teams for a range of different developers and products, and the problems with the keyer are exactly the sort of thing that should get picked up right away in real world projects.

You're right that I should not assume that the Apple beta program missed it. In fact, I am sure that if anyone with keying experience testing actually tried this, they ran into problems. As I talked about above, I ran into problems on the second shot I ever tried the keyer with, and ultimately found it acceptable for only a single shot in the entire project. It's not corner cases where the keyer fails. It's corner cases where it succeeds! If you have anyone testing the keyer in the real world, these problems should be obvious.

Here's how that conversation would go:

Devs:
"Hey beta team, we've got a brand new chroma keyer for M5 and FCPX. It's super cool because it guesses the screen color and has groovy on-screen controls for edge manipulation. Give it a try and let us know what you think."

Testers:
"Hey dev team, great-looking feature. I always hated using the color picker to find the screen color. Those OSCs are really intuitive. And wowsers, this is fast! But hey, by the way, you should know that we tried this on a few shots and we can't get the keyer to give us usable edges. Oh, and the light wrap seems to be wrongly affecting frame boundaries. I'm opening tickets for both issues. Should I send sample footage?"

If this wasn't caught by a tester, Apple is operating a near-useless beta program. But if this was caught by a tester, then Apple is compounding ignorance during development with apathy to real-world testing.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 30, 2014 at 5:12:07 pm

[Walter Soyka] "I disagree a bit here. I've been on beta teams for a range of different developers and products, and the problems with the keyer are exactly the sort of thing that should get picked up right away in real world projects. "

I'd say that you are a pretty abnormally perceptive, diligent and talented beta tester so your experience might not be typical ;-)

[Walter Soyka] "It's not corner cases where the keyer fails. It's corner cases where it succeeds! If you have anyone testing the keyer in the real world, these problems should be obvious."

That's pretty harsh! But fair. What really amazes me is that it even went out to beta testing in this form. Does no-one on the development team know how to evaluate this stuff properly?

[Walter Soyka] "If this wasn't caught by a tester, Apple is operating a near-useless beta program. But if this was caught by a tester, then Apple is compounding ignorance during development with apathy to real-world testing."

That's really harsh! But it's very hard to sketch out any scenario that justifies what we're seeing here.

I'd be interested to see what you think about how this reflects on the rest of Apple's image processing offerings for pro video. What does it say about them that they either let this stuff go, or (worse?) they aren't able to detect that it's no good enough in the first place?

There are certainly a few obvious Core Image units that are pretty iffy, to say the least ...

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Walter Soyka
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 30, 2014 at 6:09:02 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "That's really harsh! But it's very hard to sketch out any scenario that justifies what we're seeing here."

Maybe I am being too harsh. As Jeremy pointed out elsewhere, we are at talking about an NLE.

Also, we will never know all the positive impacts the beta program had on development. It's not fair of me to lay a questionable keyer at their feet.

But then again, this all really comes from Motion which is a compositor, not an NLE, and the chroma keyer was touted as a major feature, and it simply fails a lot. There's no getting around the fact that a lot of people should have recognized this, and no one has remedied it in the last 2.5 years.

Really, while you are upset that Apple could release a shoddy keyer, I'm probably more upset that we all as a community bought into the hype that it was great. I am embarrassed by the quote I pulled from myself a year ago, because I saw these problems with my own two eyes, but in a total Emperor's New Clothes moment, I thought *I* was the problem.

So in other words, not only did Apple release a shoddy keyer, they got a free pass on it from us, their customers, for the last 30 months. More than a free pass -- glowing recommendations. I wish we all had been more discerning. It would make the product better.



[Simon Ubsdell] "I'd be interested to see what you think about how this reflects on the rest of Apple's image processing offerings for pro video. What does it say about them that they either let this stuff go, or (worse?) they aren't able to detect that it's no good enough in the first place? There are certainly a few obvious Core Image units that are pretty iffy, to say the least ..."

I think the fact that Apple has an offering like Core Image is probably more important than whether it's good. This might sound familiar, but I see it as a case of high floor, low ceiling. The developers who want something quick and easy will use it, but the developers who really care about image processing will write their own anyway.

What are you seeing in Core Image that you don't like?

Personally, I've been kind of drifting away from the Mac platform over the last couple years, in part because I've been using PCs a lot more and in part because image processing on the Mac, after a burst of promising development and momentum, just seemed to stop.

I loved Quartz Composer, but it's absolutely languishing with an uncertain future while all the good stuff is coming exclusively from third-party developers. Now I'm supporting Vuo [link]. I've done some work with Processing. I'm starting to geek out with GLSL and TouchDesigner. There is a lot of cool stuff happening elsewhere.

All that said, I'm starting a new project in Motion today.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Feb 1, 2014 at 6:55:34 pm

[Walter Soyka] "I think the fact that Apple has an offering like Core Image is probably more important than whether it's good. This might sound familiar, but I see it as a case of high floor, low ceiling. The developers who want something quick and easy will use it, but the developers who really care about image processing will write their own anyway."

Yes, indeed, there's nothing wrong with Core Image itself. My point was rather about the quality of some of the units that Apple built and which form an intrinsic part of the architecture of both Motion and FCP X.

Writing your own Core Image kernels is definitely the way to go. In fact I've spent an interesting afternoon speculatively building my ideal (Color Difference) keyer in Quartz Composer and as so often I found it's easier and better to write your own custom kernels.

It's interesting to hear you're getting into Vuo - I've keeping a watchful eye and it looks very promising.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Walter Soyka
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 28, 2014 at 9:40:41 pm

Simon, what a great thread. Thanks so much for your contributions.


[Simon Ubsdell] "The question that intrigues me is why is the execution so bad?"

It is a fascinating question, isn't it? It's one of two that I would ask.

What I find equally fascinating is that this is really the first honest discussion of the keyer I've seen since its debut. Elsewhere, the M5 keyer is universally praised for its awesomeness.

I tried using the FCPX/M5 keyer for a heavy graphics and compositing job exactly this time last year. The first few shots were great. The interviewee was bald. The second shot featured an interviewee with wispy blonde hair and it sent me straight to Smoke.

I am part of the problem here. I assumed I was doing something wrong, just missing some critical aspect of using this awesome keyer that I had heard so much about. I didn't reach out and ask for help, and I didn't question whether the keying emperor was wearing any clothes because I thought I was being dumb. I just got the job done elsewhere so I could make the tight turnaround required.

In short, my question right now is not so much why is the keyer so bad -- it's why does everyone else think it's so good?

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 28, 2014 at 9:50:11 pm

[Walter Soyka] "In short, my question right now is not so much why is the keyer so bad -- it's why does everyone else think it's so good?"

I admit to being just as guilty on this score.

I looked at it when it first came out and I thought it seemed pretty cool ... and then I'm sure I'm not wrong in thinking I read loads of comments about how amazing it was - and ended up repeating that opinion to others.

All without really giving the tires a proper kicking. Now I find that if you kick the tires too hard, the wheels start to wobble!

I'm sure Apple knew exactly what they were doing with this - selling the sizzle first as always and not worrying too much about the quality of the steak. I think a lot of us, me included, took too much for granted.

Ron Brinkmann again: "See, here’s the thing with how features happen at Apple to a great extent – product development is often driven by how well things can be demoed. Maybe not explicitly – nobody ever told me to only design features that demoed well – but the nature of the organization effectively makes it work out that way."

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Walter Soyka
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:03:20 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "I'm sure Apple knew exactly what they were doing with this - selling the sizzle first as always and not worrying too much about the quality of the steak. I think a lot of us, me included, took too much for granted."

Have you tried the PHYX Keyer? Lots of sizzle there, too, but I haven't sampled the steak. Maybe it has both.

A tangentially-related question for you, Simon: as a third-party developer, do you feel the low pricing of FCPX/M5 has sucked the oxygen out of the room, or has it created a larger user base that can make up lost margin in volume to fill holes like this poor keyer?

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 28, 2014 at 10:16:56 pm

[Walter Soyka] "Have you tried the PHYX Keyer? Lots of sizzle there, too, but I haven't sampled the steak. Maybe it has both."

I haven't tried it, but I've certainly heard good things.

[Walter Soyka] "do you feel the low pricing of FCPX/M5 has sucked the oxygen out of the room, or has it created a larger user base that can make up lost margin in volume to fill holes like this poor keyer?"

I'd say that the user base for FCP X is simply vast - I'd guess it's on a scale that's never been seen before for a professional level NLE.

I've had users that include dentists and fire departments and hosts of others that you wouldn't immediately have thought of as the target market.

Conversely, I'd have said that there is almost no market worth looking at for building something at the higher end like an advanced keyer. I have no doubt that Jeremy is right and the Apple keyer is all most users want if they are staying inside the app - and for those that are going outside there are all the usual suspects that will deliver great results.

Certainly there has not been a keyer released specifically for FCP X and I doubt there will be.

I'm not sure if that answers your question which seems like a very good one.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Bret Williams
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 5:08:39 pm

I've used it for final projects. But they're usually for web or internal corporate. This is as good as it gets, bald guy shot with C500 (or was it C100?) straight to ProRes (I forget the flavor) via SDI. I exported from FCP X as ProRes 4444 and used in Motion. It was just easier to do the edits in X and export as a file vs. do the key in Motion. ESPECIALLY since there's no send to motion! As you can see, there's still a small dark fringe around the whole image. Barely noticeable on the darker parts like blue shirt, but very noticeable around lighter areas like the nose. And that's the best one I've gotten.



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Bret Williams
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 4:49:07 pm

I completely agree. I was commenting more on the interface and ease of use if you will. I love being able to select different areas at different points in time, and the refining wheel has been very well done. Ditto with the light wrap. Seems like there's two teams. Interface design, and developer. The latter is dropping the ball.


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 4:59:24 pm

Right, got you.

The interface looks like one of those Apple patent things one sees so many of - it's all about the design of the user experience. And often about making it as unique as possible.

I think the problem is that the "developer" side is just that - Apple developers.

Developers who understand image processing to the extent that they can make you tools to do cool visual stuff on your phone and tablet.

But who don't have visual effects as their day job and who may well never speak to anyone whose job it is.

Or worse still, might not understand the need to speak to such people.

Another case in point, is Quartz Composer.

They could make it sooooooo much better. It is an absolutely brilliant concept that has enabled some really talented people, a lot of the time really talented at achieving results against the grain of the app, to do some breathtakingly good stuff.

And yet Apple have apparently no interest in supporting it any longer and could well kill it off any day now.

Or let's take Motion - my personal favourite.

There are some fundamentally great concepts there, but it's stuck at a very specific level - and shows no sign of ever getting any further.

I think there's a reason that ties all this together ...

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Bret Williams
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 4:51:34 pm

Show me some transparent motion blur and I'm with you. For example a hand moving that was shot at 24p has quite a lot of motion blur. A keyer like key light has no problem cutting out the subject and the areas of motion blur become semi transparent as they should. Sometimes I can get edges ok (like on bald men) but not the motion blur.


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Patrice Freymond
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 11:13:18 am

Thank you for this Simon, I learned a lot today !

Patrice

Patrice Freymond

Editor  Certified Trainer FCP7/X
Post Consultant

Always learning...


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 11:47:40 am

[Patrice Freymond] "Thank you for this Simon, I learned a lot today !"

That's great to hear, thanks.

Although I've shown these techniques in Apple Motion, they are of course equally applicable if you're working in any other compositing software.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 2:57:07 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "Although I've shown these techniques in Apple Motion, they are of course equally applicable if you're working in any other compositing software."

Funny you mention as I mirrored this technique for the despill in Ae last night (still used keylight for the initial matte).

Dare I say, it's easier in Motion as you can see the group contents all at once instead of constantly jumping in and out of Ae precomps. Am I allowed to say these things in public?

Then, of course, clone layers.


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 3:02:00 pm

[Jeremy Garchow] "Dare I say, it's easier in Motion as you can see the group contents all at once instead of constantly jumping in and out of Ae precomps. Am I allowed to say these things in public?

Then, of course, clone layers."


I was hoping someone than me would point out this rather surprising fact ;-)

But yes, indeed, it's certainly quite elegant - and clones are a genius idea.

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Aindreas Gallagher
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 5:48:31 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "[Jeremy Garchow] "Dare I say, it's easier in Motion as you can see the group contents all at once instead of constantly jumping in and out of Ae precomps. Am I allowed to say these things in public?"


they do appear to be pondering the thing though. übertwirl down pre-comps indeed.

http://blogs.adobe.com/aftereffects/2013/12/top-after-effects-feature-reque...

"the ability to open a precomposition in the Timeline panel of the containing composition: Our internal jargon for this feature is übertwirl, referring to the ability to “twirl” a precomposition layer open in the Timeline panel and gain access to the layers within the nested composition, without leaving the Timeline panel of the composition in which it’s nested. This is a feature that we’ve been wrestling with for years, since it is a) obviously useful and b) really hard to do well. Compounding the difficulty is the fact that this feature is one of two rather different solutions to the same problem. The other solution is…"


that still doesn't get them to the visual stack feedback of a nice photoshop layers palette like motion has though.

It's funny, I remember years ago giving new staff initial (blind leading the blind) training on AE - and I'd call it photoshop with a timeline bolted on, it seemed a good phrase, but thinking about it, its the fact that motion has kept the layers and timeline separate that allows for that lovely layer view you get.

fab demo btw - mellifluous tones too :)

http://vimeo.com/user1590967/videos http://www.ogallchoir.net promo producer/editor.grading/motion graphics


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Simon Ubsdell
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 6:35:25 pm

[Aindreas Gallagher] "thinking about it, its the fact that motion has kept the layers and timeline separate that allows for that lovely layer view you get."

It's really nice to be able to have both options - as well as the dedicated keyframe editor.

All three have enough overlap that you can do some of the same things in different ways, e.g. slip keyframes in either the timeline editor or the keyframe editor, composite in either the layer editor or the timeline editor. (And despite what some will tell you, the Keyframe editor is very fully featured.)

And yes, Ae precomps can be insanely powerful - but they can also be insanely annoying.

(Did I mention that I quite like working in Motion?)

Simon Ubsdell
http://www.tokyo-uk.com


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Aindreas Gallagher
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Jan 24, 2014 at 7:17:50 pm

[Simon Ubsdell] "(Did I mention that I quite like working in Motion?)"

well, you do play it like a clarinet.

http://vimeo.com/user1590967/videos http://www.ogallchoir.net promo producer/editor.grading/motion graphics


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Chris Wright
Re: Step away from the Apple Keyer now! (And build a better one of your own.)
on Feb 2, 2014 at 5:46:06 pm

hey, thanks for the vid. you inspired me to make an after effects procedural keyer. It has the same edge detail as keylight plus more refining tools. i made it open source so that you can port it into plugins.

aea cs5.5 aep template
http://f1.creativecow.net/7088/7088


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