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Keying hair

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Jeff RouricKeying hair
by on Aug 13, 2013 at 1:17:24 am

I know I posted on keying before, but this is driving me crazy. Hair is driving me crazy. That seems to be the biggest problem. Also, I'm not sure if I'm keying the correct way, so I wanted to ask you guys if there's any problems with my workflow here or if it's just supposed to be this hard... where I point the cursor to are the biggest problems. They are:

1. There is a fringe from the layer that I can't figure out what it is, and won't go away even if I increase the mask expansion size

2. The back of hair is getting especially noisy, and I don't know how to tame that. If I can't find a better way here then I'll probably just stick an add mask onto that part of the hair, and leave the footage in that area completely unaltered.

Keying hair 1

I forgot to show the original state in the first one, so here's a second

Keying hair 2

Also, I've tried Premiere's keyer, not much difference for this.

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mathew fullerRe: Keying hair
by on Aug 13, 2013 at 1:45:49 am

First of all, remove the "selective color effect" altogether. If you use that on hair you will never get a good key on it.

Second. Do you have the comping plugin set from red giant called "Key Correct"? If not... get it.

There are many tools to help you get good results on hair.. like the spill suppressor which I like better than others... edge blur... all kinds of stuff. I really think this tool-set is needed to do good hair. Maybe not needed... but definitely helps.

Third. Was the footage shot on a 5D or 7D onto a internal card? This compresses the footage to h264 and makes getting a good hair key nearly impossible. It's hard to key compressed footage... bottom line.

Fourth... If you are having a hard time getting a good color key I know that can be keyed with a "Luma Key"... just put a threshold followed by levels on just the hair footage , tweak them until the hair is black and the green is white, and use the luma key for the hair. Or skip the luma key and just make the resulting black and white image of the hair a luma matte for the original footage underneath.

My Work:

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Jeff RouricRe: Keying hair
by on Aug 13, 2013 at 2:23:29 am

Hey Mathew,

The selective color filters have saved me in other parts (besides hair) so should I just use no selective color filters on hair parts?

I don't have money, I'll have money after this gig, but not right now, so I can't buy anything new, but it sounds really nice.

I don't know what camera this guy used, but I know that

- He barely prepared the greenscreen and shot these guys on a whim (seriously, some of these guys are wearing green.)
- The files are MTS (I think that's an AVCHD format, so already heavy compression I think)

And I'll try the Luma Key, thanks!

Any insight on the fringe about the first problem? (that little outline that doesn't respond to expansion)

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mathew fullerRe: Keying hair
by on Aug 13, 2013 at 2:35:41 am

I don't really understand the fringe question... and it's hard to see in your video.

As for Key correct. It has a 30 day trial... fully functional. Buy it after if you like it.

When footage is too compressed, you will find yourself with 2 options usually. Hair with noise in the fringe. Or, A very tight key with no detail on the hairs edges. Depending on how much your subject moves you can sometimes key out one frame of the hair as best you can, and then track that back onto the hair to give it some detail to the edge... I have done this many times... but it has to be done well.

My Work:

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Jeff RouricRe: Keying hair
by on Aug 13, 2013 at 8:22:41 am

Oooo thanks, I downloaded the trial and this seems really powerful, but I have no idea how to use this. I tried Primatte, and read through the manual, can't understand much, but I followed the tutorial, and it looks so much better than keylight/alpha matting from keylight because it's not "bubbling and popping", but there's a lot more green fringe. How do I get rid of that? Is there a choker/shrinker option I'm missing?

Also, how come even through the matte reads as black in some areas, there's still something like noise there in the Comp view?

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mathew fullerRe: Keying hair
by on Aug 13, 2013 at 4:43:45 pm

Hard to know how it works without reading the documentation.

Take the time to learn what the plugs do.

My Work:

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Jeff RouricRe: Keying hair
by on Aug 13, 2013 at 9:30:34 pm

Hey man, I just noticed one major flaw to this plan...

The trial version of those plugins includes a red X on the layer that I let slide because I thought it was just some weird preview thing, and also I was really tired last night. Turns out it actually renders out, so I can't use these plugins.

So basically, have I reached the limit of what can done to this bad footage without 3rd party software? Should I just start masking and frame by frame rotoscoping away? Again, this doesn't have to look great, just passable.

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Todd KoprivaRe: Keying hair
by on Aug 13, 2013 at 2:16:30 am

The Refine Edge tool and Refine Soft Matte effect are big helps with hair:

Todd Kopriva, Adobe Systems Incorporated
After Effects quality engineering
After Effects team blog

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Steve BrameRe: Keying hair
by on Aug 13, 2013 at 11:56:55 am

I was just watching this yesterday. Might want to check it out.

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"98% of all computer issues can be solved by simply pressing 'F1'."
Steve Brame
creative illusions Productions

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Daniel BroadwayRe: Keying hair
by on Aug 13, 2013 at 1:52:01 pm

Looks like you are using different masks for tackling the hair separately, which is a good start. When you say there is noise in your hair, do you mean there is heavy film-like grain over it, or do you mean the actual alpha is noisy and chattering? If it's the alpha matte noisy and chattering, that is because there is too much noise in your image, and you need to de-noise it before pulling the key. If this softens detail more than you'd like, you can use the alpha as a track matte on a non-denoised version after keying it.

If you have $99 to spare, I highly recommend Neat Video. It is the absolute best denoiser out there.

If your noise in the hair is just film-like visible grain, it's probably because of spill suppression. Keylight is sometimes very aggressive with spill suppression. The green noise in your image thus gets suppressed down to pure black, even if the surrounding noise isn't pure black. This causes excessive suppresion, and Keylight is notorious for this. If you twril down Screen Matte under the Keylight controls, you will see a drop down called "Replace Method" By default this is "Soft Colour" try switching it to "Hard Colour" to see if this gets rid of noise.

As others have mentioned, Key Correct comes with nice tools for dealing with tricky problems. You may find this useful. You will notice that when using Primatte, it's very difficult to get rid of green spill, because Primatte is harsh in it's despill methods, and actually adds magenta to compensate it. This is the incorrect method for professional spill suppression. That said...

Recently I released a plug-in which I co-developed with a buddy of mine, called Spill Slayer, which Steve Brame posted above. Because I oversaw its development, I promise you that it is bar none the best Spill Suppression tool ever made for Adobe After Effects. That is not just me trying to sell it to you, that is a fact. The entire reason I developed it was because I found the tools in AE already lacking, and I wanted it for myself. I made it as an internal project, and then after many requests, made it public.

You can look at it here...

Please answer my questions above, and perhaps we can help you further. Thanks.

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