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Zvi Twersky
Live Chromakey software - PC
on Jan 18, 2010 at 2:57:12 pm

I'm looking to get software (only) for live chroma key preview. (PC - not MAC)
We will be shooting full HD (1920x1080) so Ultra won't work. (supports only DV). The camera shoots MP4 so FXhome CompositeLab Pro won't work. (supports full HD but not mp4). I looked into some cheap ones but I don't like them. There is also a plugin for AE that does this but I'm looking for software that is designated just to chroma key (like Ultra is). I saw something written about Adobe Visual Communicator 3 so I'm looking into that now.

I would also like to be able to use this software to do the final key as well so if you know of a good keyer and compositor like Ultra and FXhome stuff, please tell me.

Thanks

UPDATE:
Ok, Adobe Visual Communicator doesn't seem to be taking MP4. It allows me to import it but it doesn't play it.



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Mark Suszko
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Jan 19, 2010 at 5:50:38 am

Zvi, why the insistence on keying live, that adds a lot more cost that you may not need to spend unless the shoot is truly live broadcast. Most people that need to key live I think do it with hardware, using a switcher. If they want to do a test on location for post, they might run a laptop with the Adobe scope software on it, capture a short couple of seconds and do a test matte with their SW of choice. Or just bring a portable version of their editing apps and hardware to the location. But to do the whole thing live in software, in HD may be asking for something you can't afford. If you're scrambling to afford the lights for this green room, you probably can't afford the higher-end live keying software. But maybe I missed some new stuff since last NAB.


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Zvi Twersky
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Jan 19, 2010 at 7:21:47 am

Thanks.

It's true we're scrambling to reduce costs. The reason I wanted live is not for a final product but to get an idea of the quality of the lights. I want to get a general picture of my key while adjusting lights while not having to shoot, transfer to computer, check, re-adjust lights, transfer again, check, etc...

The shooting and transferring to computer takes up precious time that I think a good keying and composting software can spare me. Also, a program like that, although might not be cheap, will definitely be cheaper then hardware and mixers.

The Adobe idea might be ok. What Adobe product is most particular for key checking? Would it be AE with some plugin like Key Correct Pro, or just the plain keyer in Premiere or do you know of some other Adobe product that would better fit what I need?

Thanks.



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Mark Suszko
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Jan 19, 2010 at 7:42:28 pm

You could record using Adobe OnLocation, and check a still using photoshop, or bring the footage into any keyer program you own.


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Zvi Twersky
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Jan 19, 2010 at 8:40:22 pm

I don't want to record. I want to glance at my monitor, see the live footage and move lights around as needed. Like looking into the viewfinder of a video camera. You see what your going to shoot before you shoot it and when you're framed right and the lighting and color balance is ok, you press record.

About your second reply, I can't do that because the keyers I have don't support MP4.

Someone referred NUKE to me. Anyone had experience with it?




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Mark Suszko
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Jan 19, 2010 at 10:03:12 pm

Nuke is US$3,500 plus a grand a year maintenance plan. And needs a pretty powerful computer to run smoothly. And I still don't think that works live like the virtual switcher you're thinking of. You'd still have to capture first, then set up the key.

You're wanting to do something like Cameron's Avatar setup on a Plan 9 budget.

If the realtime aspect is so darned vital, you could break out a composite video feed from the camera and run that to a Video Toaster or Tricaster and have your instant live feedback, figuring that if the key holds up okay using composite, it will do even better in post as HD. Or spend more for the new HD Tricaster, I just don't feel the same urgency about the fully established live key for your particular needs, but then again, maybe I missed something about the kinds of work you're going to be doing on this set? Anything more you can add in that regard?


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Zvi Twersky
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Jan 19, 2010 at 10:10:38 pm

My knowledge is based on learning from people like yourself. Until now, all my knowledge on keying has been self taught by reading and watching. I guess somewhere along the way, I got the impression that the best workflow when on a greenscreen set is to be able to view your key as a preperation part of the production. Live\Real time preview was the way I read and learned.

Maybe you are right about this. Maybe this is only done on high end sets with high budgets. I guess I thought this was a standard workflow with all productions.

I guess I will have to shoot a few minutes, import it to the computer and check the key. If it's not perfect, adjust the lighting and do the same thing again.

Maybe making a live key previewer program would be a good idea for a business :-)



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Rob Jackson
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Jan 19, 2010 at 10:28:44 pm

I don't have an answer for you, but a question for anyone who might know. What do news stations use to do the live weather reports when they're standing in front of the green screen as a map? Would that do what Zvi is looking for? Or is that getting ridiculously high end? Our college news station had that and I know their budget was not very significant. Just a thought.


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Zvi Twersky
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Jan 19, 2010 at 10:33:20 pm

Rob, I'm pretty sure they use switchers and other controllers and hardware for that. Yes, that would be going high end. Am I right?



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john sharaf
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Jan 19, 2010 at 10:35:35 pm

Broadcast News (and Weather) that uses keys and virtual sets most all use switchers with built in keyers. They use multiple layers of these to put in news crawls, chyrons and other graphics on top of the foreground talent and background maps. I'm sure there are other software solutions, but the modern switchers provide a tactile user interface that has great familiarity in broadcast control rooms.

JS





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Mark Suszko
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Jan 19, 2010 at 11:08:16 pm

Zvi, don't get frustrated, I've been doing this stuff since about 1977 and no way do I know even half of what I want or feel I need to know; I'm still learning, every day. That's why I come here.

At our studio, we approach chromakeys in 2 ways; we have a Grass valley 200 switcher that will enable a live key against a still or other motion video that's playing off a deck. If you have all the elements ready on shoot day, it is nice to be able to pre-compose the thing live and record it and take that on to post production, a big time saver.

until...

...Until the clients want a change, and now you're locked into what was pre-composited live on the set. Then you have to call the talent back and re-shoot. Hopefully, there is time and money for that. If you just shoot on the green and do the key later in post, you have MUCH more control and the ability to un-do everything as well as re-purpose clips. So I kind of prefer to do it all in post, but even then, I will often check the quality of the key using the live switcher, to key against a generated color bars chart, some test still, a color frame of white, or something else, knowing that if the old, standard-def composite live switcher can pull a good key, I should be able to as well or better in post.

Now the question arises; for what you are doing, (which I guess is like training lectures or sales talks, you weren't very specific) do you *need* the switcher with built-in keyer on the set, or is it just handy to have as a time saver?

You can find some switchers for as low as a grand, but HD switchers that use SDI inputs are going to run a lot more money, I'll say twenty grand, just to pull a number out of my, um, hat. Could be less, but likely more. Especially one that can switch MPEG. MPEG 4 is a delivery codec and is awesome for that, not so great for editing, and tricky for shooting. Only you and your boss can tell if that investment in the switcher is going to be worth it.

If you were going to do webcasting live, then you'd probably need it. If everything is going to be finished and polished in post, then maybe not, and all you'd need on the set is a good tool for evaluating the quality of the lighting on the green; a set of wave form and vector scopes will do this, hardware-based (expensive) or virtual, like Adobe On Location, or the scopes in a copy of Final Cut or Premiere with a suitable video card to take a live input. Being able to take a grab from Adobe On Location (or another similar app) and testing it in Photoshop should take all of 2 minutes to confirm that your set is lit in good shape. When i am shooting green out on someone else's location, I don't often have a scope at all, I use the zebra bars display to "eyeball" it, and thanks to aving done this a time or two, I am not too disappointed when I egt back to the shop. But those are very small and tightly shot things, not something very complicated.

That's what I was trying to explain. There's always more than one way to get there, but you want the way that makes the most sense for your needs. And the budget and schedule. FAST, GOOD, INEXPENSIVE; you can pick any 2 but ONLY 2.


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Zvi Twersky
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Jan 19, 2010 at 11:34:30 pm

Thanks again.

I'm sorry if I sounded frustrated. I'm not. I'm very great-full for your replies.

No, I didn't want to record live but just thought the preview would be a quicker way to estimate the lighting quality. My plan was to do the keying later. So yes, I would have the ability to undo stuff if a client wanted.

When you mentioned On-Location, that was the kind of responses I was looking for - if a software like that can just give me a live preview. But I also wanted to hear things exactly like you said, like how you can also rely on the zebra and eyeball it - experienced feedback like that is very helpful to me.

I know that eventually, I will learn from trial and error but asking for help in forums like this one lets me educate myself a little more.

Here's something 2 years old that someone pointed me to:
http://www.frischluft.com/lensfeed/index.php

Seems to be something that allows you to preview live video in AE. I need to get to sleep and will check it in the morning but I quickly glanced at the site at it looks like what I was referring too.

Good night and thanks again.



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Alan Lloyd
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Jan 20, 2010 at 5:44:34 am

Using OnLocation is a very good idea for the recording. Roll tape as a backup, too. Belt and suspenders is the order of the day.

Here's a tip: Before you begin shooting, check your greenscreen on the waveform. You should see a fairly flat line. The luminance line ought to be within 5 IRE or so side-to-side. The thicker chrominance line should be even as well.

Ideally, you want your greenscreen light levels in the 40-50 IRE range. A good balance between exposure and saturation.

And just because it may prove useful, roll some on the empty greenscreen using the same focal length and lens settings. When you're setting up your key, you may find it helps. I've even done this and used the empty greenscreen to do a "difference matte" key, just to see if that worked. It did - well.

Maybe some time later I'll dig the materials out and put up some screen grabs. It was a fun experiment.


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Zvi Twersky
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Jan 20, 2010 at 7:46:33 am

Thanks for the tips.

Anyone else who wants to practice keying, compositing or tracking, can download tons of free keyed and tracked footage at http://www.hollywoodcamerawork.us/vfx_index.html

Thanks again to all



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Bj West
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Jun 3, 2014 at 9:30:49 pm

It's been four years since the last post in this thread, and I find myself asking the same question. I am finding several tools like VeeScope that sound exactly like what I need, but they only run on Macs, not PCs. Surely somebody makes something like this by now.

Beej


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Bj West
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Jun 7, 2014 at 11:29:04 pm

Just in case some other weary traveler follows the same path I did, here's what I've found:

Product: VidStudio
Company: VidStudio
URL: http://vidstudio.com/
Price: Free!
Features:
*Decent key quality.
*Supports BND card input
*Video Output can be large, but not true fullscreen.
*Does *not* support FireWire.



Product: Wirecast Studio
Company:Telestream
URL: http://www.telestream.net/wirecast/store.asp
Price: $495
Features:
*Real time Chromakey
*Supports BlackMagic Design cards
*Super high-end tools meant for broadcasting.



Product: ICanPresent
Company: Kudlian
URL: http://www.kudlian.net/products/icanpresent/Home.html
Price: $90.68
Features:
*Uses Firewire
*Max screen size 1024 x 768
*Intended primarily for use with projectors.


Product: AVmixer Lite
Company:Neuromixer
URL: http://neuromixer.com/collections/avmixer/products/avmixer-lite
Price: $8.41 (Lite) or $42.03 (Pro)
Features:
*Real-time compositing
*Supports BMD input full 1920 x 1080
*Image quality not great, but good enough for shot matching


Product: Lensfeed
Company: Frischluft
URL: http://www.frischluft.com/lensfeed/index.php
Price: $199
Features:
*Lensfeed is a plug-in for After Effects that allows you to use a live camera feed as footage.
*Sounds like a hack with lots of problems.
*No info on video input source compatability.



Product: Chroma Key
Company: MediaLooks
URL: http://www.medialooks.com/chroma_key/
Price: $2,660 (!)
Features:
*Chroma Key plugin for MPlatform SDK (Must be licensed seperately.
*This is for hardcore software developers, not end users.


Product: Chroma Key Live PC
Company: ???
URL: You don't want it
Price: Probably too high
Features:
Almost certainly malware.
Only available from skeezy looking websites that try to download an .exe file to you automatically, no other information available.


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drew more
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Aug 21, 2014 at 3:27:38 am

Beej you are my messiah.

Neuromixer's demo is only limited by a 20 minute timeout.
Chromakey function is rudimentary, but simple: Point and click to select the key color. No control of the finer points, but free is free and this solves my problem for the day!!

-drew


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Zvi Twersky
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Aug 21, 2014 at 5:26:54 am

Wow, it's been 4 years and my post is still alive... I've created a legacy! :-) Thanks Beej for this info! I'm sure it will help many people.



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Santanu Bhattacharjee
Re: Live Chromakey software - PC
on Oct 31, 2014 at 2:22:27 pm

I had made a prototype chroma for a blue screen long ago in flash. If there is still such a need, I can take the program it further.

Here is the link -

http://www.santanu.biz/demo/demo.php?query=chromacam&count=2#footer

Santanu B
The Swiss Army Knife for All Your Creative Needs


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