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Green Screen Solutions

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Rick Wise
Green Screen Solutions
on Aug 2, 2008 at 4:59:21 pm

There used to be a product from Serious Magic called "ultra" which seemed to do a pretty good job of green-screen keying, especially for beginners. Unfortunately, Adobe bought it and has now made it part of Create Suite 3, which costs around $1,700.

But, a little Google sleuthing turns up the fact that version 2 is still available. Amongst resellers there's Videoguys with 3 bundles: the software alone, or the software plus green screen, or the software plus green screen plus backgrounds: http://www.videoguys.com/seriousmagic.html (Scroll down the page to find them.)

I cannot vouch for the quality of this system, I do know that a non-video professor I know used it for his web casts and had pretty good results. For someone trying to greenscreen in a tight space with limited experience and equipment, Ultra 2 might be a good solution. Emphasize: might. No endorsement.

Rick Wise
director of photography
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Green Screen Solutions
on Aug 2, 2008 at 5:36:01 pm

Well I can give a first-hand account to add to what Rick said...

We have CS3 in a couple of our suites, but an older suite is still running Primiere Pro 6 (it's a Canopus Storm2 and can't be upgraded farther), so that machine does have the little stand-alone version of Ultra2... which was installed before Adobe absorbed it.

I'd say it does indeed work pretty well. Now, it doesn't work nearly as flawlessly or one-click easily as their demo would show... it helps if you start with a much better and more evenly-lit greenscreen than in their demos (but one should be doing that anyway), and usually takes a bit more tweaking than in their demos as well, but the results are usually pretty darn good.

You are not going to get great Ultimatte-quality keys of flyaway hairs or glass or smoke with Ultra2, but for most applications we have found it more than adequate.

We were doing an industrial film for a corporate client once... it was a location shoot in Las Vegas. Our on-screen host for some reason at the last minute was unable to make the trip... so on location we just shot background plates, and had someone stand in just for placement and lighting reference. Since we had that, back here in Alabama we were able to re-create the lighting accurately on the talent, now shot on greenscreen. While I didn't think the keys were absolutely 100% perfect, they were clean enough with Ultra2 that the client didn't know that the talent hadn't gone on location with us.

Actually, it's nice to know that you can still get the stand-alone version... I wasn't aware of that.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Rick Wise
Re: Green Screen Solutions
on Aug 2, 2008 at 6:09:06 pm

Todd,

Do you know if Ultra 2 works with HD or just SD? I vaguely remember that an HD version came out much later, and may possibly be version 3 -- and apparently only available through Adobe. (Ebay might have it now and again.)

Rick Wise
director of photography
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Green Screen Solutions
on Aug 2, 2008 at 6:51:42 pm

Hey Rick...

Not sure... we actually do precious little keying (I pretty much try to avoid it when I can)...

The CS3 version will handle HD of course, but as for the stand-alone, I don't know. Our stand-alone version is in a standard-def-only suite, so the issue has never come up in there. I'll have the editor try importing an HD clip into it on Monday.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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Rick Wise
Re: Green Screen Solutions
on Aug 2, 2008 at 9:57:06 pm

Todd,

I looked a bit further, found another page at Videoguys with much more information. Ultra 2 does support HD. They seem to claim that in fact it turns SD into HD (hmmmmm.....?). An excerpt:

Twice the Speed, Twice the Resolution
• HDV & HD support The world is going HD and now you'll be ready with output in 1080i, 1080p, 720p and more.
• Fast, Faster, Fastest The world's fastest software keyer just got faster. ULTRA's keyer has been entirely rewritten to take advantage of the power of the GPU chip in your graphics card. Turn on the new "GPU Boost" mode and, on recent generation cards, ULTRA 2 can key HD in real-time and standard definition faster than real-time!
• Widescreen 16:9 & Progressive Scan Support Output standard definition 16:9 video in 480i and 480p.
• Color Correction New improvements help you get more natural keys.
• 32-Bit Rendering Enhancements give you higher quality output.

Source of info: http://www.videoguys.com/ultra.html

Rick Wise
director of photography
Oakland, CA
http://www.RickWiseDP.com
email: Rick@RickWiseDP.com


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Todd Terry
Re: Green Screen Solutions
on Aug 2, 2008 at 11:48:41 pm

Well, I have an answer Rick (although I don't have an answer to that "turning SD into HD" voodoo)...

I had to run down to the studio for something so I opened up Ultra2 and gave it a look. Even though we have a not-so-knew copy of the stand-alone Version 2 on that standard-def NLE, apparently it will handle HD.

I didn't try to key or even import anything, just quickly looked at the preferences and output options... which go up to 10-bit HD 4:4:4 1920x1080.

I will say that I am pleasantly surprised at that.


T2

__________________________________
Todd Terry
Creative Director
Fantastic Plastic Entertainment, Inc.
fantasticplastic.com






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