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Chroma keying in FCP - which codec?

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Chaz Wren
Chroma keying in FCP - which codec?
on Jan 7, 2010 at 12:09:18 am

Hi,
I'm working on my first green screen project with my new camera and have come across a barrier immediately. Having ripped the footage from my cam (Sony CX106e) as Pro Res 444(HQ) into FCP, I'm faced with a now slower than ever timeline (and app in general).

Any tips on a format which would lend itself to chroma keying whilst taking up less resources yet not losing so much info that a clean key becomes an impossibility? lol. Perhaps I'm a little optimistic, I was aware that HD footage would be more of a strain on my system before I recently bought my CX106, but I didn't imagine it to be such a drastic change in performance from DV editing.

I'm due an upgrade soon I think anyway, so not the end of the world. Perhaps an idea to opt for a quad core at long last, 27" iMac i7 looks promising...Anyway, any advice greatly appreciated.


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Shane Ross
Re: Chroma keying in FCP - which codec?
on Jan 7, 2010 at 1:14:47 am

HOLY CRAP! You shot with a little handycam and then encoded to PRO RES 4444! WOW...that was the WRONG thing to do. WAY too large of a file. That format is ONLY really for exporting footage with an embedded Alpha Channel. And ProRes HQ really is only for high end 2K formats. You should be looking at regular old ProRes...or even ProRes LT with that camera. Lordy...

[Chaz Wren] "I was aware that HD footage would be more of a strain on my system before I recently bought my CX106, but I didn't imagine it to be such a drastic change in performance from DV editing. "

NO kidding. When you go from the lowest end SD format...the easiest to deal with, to a very ultra high end HD (HIGH data rate) format...yeah, that will be a HUGE leap. You need very fast drives for that format, and a decent machine... and knowledge of what you are doing. Heck, I don't use ProRes 4444, nor HQ.

[Chaz Wren] " Perhaps an idea to opt for a quad core at long last, 27" iMac i7 looks promising..."

You are talking about using high end ProREs formats, and a very consumer computer. OK....what are you trying to tackle ProRes 4444 with now? A Mac Mini?

You need to take that handycam footage and import as ProRes LT. That is a good yet low data rate format.

Pardon my snarkiness... This post blew me away. Especially when I saw what the camera was.

Shane



GETTING ORGANIZED WITH FINAL CUT PRO DVD...don't miss it.
Read my blog, Little Frog in High Def


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Chaz Wren
Re: Chroma keying in FCP - which codec?
on Jan 7, 2010 at 2:01:42 pm

Thanks for the advice, I'll try converting the footage to Prores LT, maybe AIC might be worth a try too.

In regards to the overwhelmingly condescending response, I appreciate you're most likely a professional, but I however am doing this simply for fun at this early stage. As such, I unfortunately can't justify the budget required for a high end/broadcast HD cam. Equally, I'm not massively experienced at this moment in time, hence why I posted this thread, in the hope that I might be greeted with honest (as it was) yet friendly advice.

I'm getting a really nice key so far with just the Primatte RT plugin and fcp spill suppressor. On top of this, I'm actually having a ball with what is by along way the highest quality footage I've had access to so far :)

And yes, my machine is a somewhat 'consumer' level macbook pro that has proven faithful even until this point. Whilst I'm sure the 27" iMac may not be the machine of choice for all industry work, it appears to meet my needs completely whilst remaining in my budget.

I don't want to seem ungrateful, but we all have to start somewhere right? And here I am, at the beginning.

I just hope I didn't offend you somehow with my amateur choice of codec ;)


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Chroma keying in FCP - which codec?
on Jan 7, 2010 at 2:38:56 pm

If you're just getting started, I hope you've taken the time to google phrases like, "lighting for chroma key", "lighting for green screen", "lighting for blue screen".

Lighting is the #1 thing that will make or break a chroma key shot.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Chaz Wren
Re: Chroma keying in FCP - which codec?
on Jan 7, 2010 at 3:03:19 pm

Thanks for the advice Dave. I was aware when filming that lighting was the quintessential ingredient. I had to make do with what I had available at the time which was a couple of 100watt halogen lamps, 1 either side of the screen and one front 50watt ambient for character lighting. Surprisingly this seems to have worked pretty well (although not perfect).

Have you any recommendations for lighting? I've spotted your posts on various threads and have taken on board many of your points along the way :)

Also, so far I'm almost entirely FCP based, is it worth me looking into Shake for keying? The interface seems a little daunting ;)

Thanks again.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Chroma keying in FCP - which codec?
on Jan 7, 2010 at 3:18:08 pm

[Chaz Wren] "Have you any recommendations for lighting?"

If you're on a budget, Mr. Sun is your friend.


[Chaz Wren] "...is it worth me looking into Shake for keying?"

You've got Motion, right? Its Primatte chroma keyer -- combined with the other things to spruce up a key -- is far better than FCP's sadly limited capabilities.

Hey, FCP is an editing application. Motion is an effects application. Guess which one is better for effects?

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Chaz Wren
Re: Chroma keying in FCP - which codec?
on Jan 7, 2010 at 4:10:10 pm

Yes indeedy I do, and I started off doing my keying with the Primatte RT in Motion 3 (Which I love!). After upgrading to Studio 3 though, I noticed that the Primatte RT has now made an appearance in the filters menu in FCP 7. Is this (excuse my naivety) identical to the Motion Primatte? It looks the same, and I've got some great results from it.

"-- combined with the other things to spruce up a key --"
Can you recommend any other plugins I should be looking at to clean up my key in Motion or FCP?

Thanks again for your expertise Dave.


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Dave LaRonde
Re: Chroma keying in FCP - which codec?
on Jan 7, 2010 at 4:20:10 pm

[Chaz Wren] "Can you recommend any other plugins I should be looking at to clean up my key in Motion or FCP? "

Only if you happen to have an extra U.S. $500 - $700 lying around with nothing to do. Personally, I'd invest that kind of cash in a better camera.

But you can use Motion straight out of the box to make the subject look more like it's actually a part of the shot by adding light wrap (google it), making the colors match better, and adding fake shadows.

Dave LaRonde
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Chaz Wren
Re: Chroma keying in FCP - which codec?
on Jan 8, 2010 at 9:23:33 am

Ah yes, the infamous light wrap technique. I'm not overly familiar with this yet, although I'm aware of the concept to harness 'light' from the scene to produce a more believable key by 'wrapping' the edges?

I really have no idea where to start with fake shadows though (in terms of making them believable). I think a google quest is called for here.
Thanks agian for all your help Dave, it is all greatly appreciated!


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Rafael Amador
Re: Chroma keying in FCP - which codec?
on Jan 8, 2010 at 2:49:48 pm

Here you have the best tutorial:

http://www.artbeats.com/written_tutorials/20

And now you have to practice.
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Chaz Wren
Re: Chroma keying in FCP - which codec?
on Jan 8, 2010 at 6:39:03 pm

Fantastic, downloaded and studying now :)
Thanks for the link!


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Rafael Amador
Re: Chroma keying in FCP - which codec?
on Jan 7, 2010 at 1:15:15 am

Capture the footage as Prores HQ or SQ.
rafael

http://www.nagavideo.com


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Russell Bramlett
Re: Chroma keying in FCP - which codec?
on Mar 10, 2010 at 7:23:46 pm

Hello,

I need to key footage that was a.) lit fairly poorly against a green screen, and b.) shot on a sony ex3 at 1080 60i.
First of all I am presuming that the footage being 1080/60i/interlaced, this is a disadvantage?

Should I be considering rendering the footage out in a different timeline codec before applying key filters?

Thanks,
Russell


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Rafael Amador
Re: Chroma keying in FCP - which codec?
on Mar 11, 2010 at 1:10:13 am

Rendering your footage to another codec just will make you lose one generation.
Apply the CK on the raw footage.
rafael


http://www.nagavideo.com


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