LIBRARY: Tutorials Reviews Interviews Editorials Features Business Authors RSS Feed

Keylight

A Creative COW "Real World" Product Review


Barend Onneweer gives Creativecow members a sneak look at Keylight
Barend Onneweer Barend Onneweer,
http://www.raamw3rk.net
Gouda/Rotterdam, The Netherlands


©2003 Barend Onneweer and Creativecow.net. All rights reserved.

Article Focus:
Adobe has announced that The Foundry's Keylight will be bundled with the upcoming release of After Effects 6.0 Professional Edition. In this article, Creativecow leader, Barend Onneweer gives us a sneak peek at Keylight.


COW RATING: 5 Cows

Adobe has announced that The Foundry's Keylight will be bundled with the upcoming release of After Effects 6.0 Professional Edition. Amongst VFX professionals Keylight is no stranger. From the manual: "Keylight is an Academy award winning blue and greenscreen keyer. The core algorithm was developed by the Computer Film Company and has been developed and ported to After Effects by The Foundry". Keylight has been available for a couple of high-end compositing solutions for a while, from Shake to AVID|DS upwards to Flame* and Inferno*, with prices ranging from $1250 to $7,500.

The Foundry is well known in the industry for other high-quality plugins like the Tinderbox series that are also available for After Effects. At this years NAB The Foundry premiered the port of Keylight to Adobe After Effects. At that point in time Keylight for AE was still in beta and the Foundry states that in fact the After Effects version of Keylight is a further developed algorithm and effectively a 2.0 version (although the software information will state 1.0).

After installation of Keylight which comes with it's own installer, the plugin can be found in the Keying menu of After Effects 6.0 Professional Edition.

After doing some quick tests that looked promising I thought it would be fun to revisit the footage that I used when I wrote my first article for Creative COW about chromakeying difficult footage. It was shot on DV under pretty bad circumstances.

Preparation of the footage

Without making this a full-blown tutorial, I'll quickly explain the preparations I take before keying DV footage. Without these preparations no DV key is going to good good anyway. I usually prepare my footage by de-interlacing and de-artifacting using Magic Bullet. Especially the de-artifactor does an excellent job at removing the pixelation of especially the red and blue channel that are the result of the 4.1.1 (NTSC) or 4.2.0 (PAL) color space of DV. There are examples of the de-artifactor in my review of Magic Bullet.

If you don't have Magic Bullet, try this: Add an adjustment layer on top of your footage and apply a gaussian blur of around 4 pixels. Set the transfer mode of the adjustment layer to [Color]. This way you slightly blur the colors without touching the luminance, so the image is perceived as sharp, but some of the DV artifacts are removed. Precompose the two layers and apply the keying to the precomposed layer. It doesn't work as well as the Magic Bullet de-artifactor, but if you're on a budget, this will at least help.

A quick and dirty key

Like I said I took and old clip from my original chromakeying tutorial to see how Keylight could make life less miserable. When all the parameters of Keylight are folded out there's about 45 parameters to tweak... (If you want to see the whole bunch, click here). Now don't be frightened away by this, the most essential tools are arranged right in the top, and depending on the complexity of the key you'll gradually work your way down until you're satisfied (uhm... that didn't come out right...).

The default screen color of Keylight is black, which doesn't do anything. A trivial but nice touch - in many other keyers that default to green, you need to disable the effect, select the screen color with the color picker and then enable the effect again. After selecting the right screen color I instantly got a half-decent result. Well, better than I had ever had using this particular footage.All the background is keyed out without serious holes in the matte. With better shot footage, preferably less compressed and less noisy, chances are that picking the right screen color will do 90% of the work.

ROLL OVER IMAGES TO SEE A DETAIL @ 100%
ORIGINAL IMAGE
QUICK KEY
RESULTING MATTE

Well, as said the first result looked somewhat decent in it's own right, but the matte is too soft and a quick look at the resulting alpha channel shows that the screen needs cleaning up and the density of the matte needs some work to get the holes out.

So let's take a look at some of the other tools Keylight has to offer. First of all Keylight offers a set of different view of the results in different stages of the process. A particularly handy view is 'status' which renders an exaggerated view of the matte. With this view enabled, it's easy to adjust the Screen Strength to the right level: until all the background is solid black, without eating too much into the foreground matte. Next I tweaked the Screen Bias a little to lift the density of the matte a little, reducing the holes in the foreground. The resulting matte looks a lot better, and this within a minute or two!

ROLL OVER IMAGES TO SEE A DETAIL @ 100%
STATUS VIEW
TWEAKED SCREEN STRENGTH AND BIAS
RESULTING MATTE

Well, this article was supposed to be a sneak peak so I'm going to pick up the pace a little: the basic keyer in Keylight serves as a spill-remover at the same time, and using the Despill Bias control the amount of spill removal can be tweaked.

Advanced keying

The next set of tools is for tweaking the matte, with it's own Clip Black and Clip White tools, Grow/Shrink and Spot Removal, serving the purpose of refining or smoothing out the matte if it doesn't look right yet - somewhat resembling After Effects own Matte Choker in it's goal. This is where you can tweak the details of the matte to remove the specks and lift the density to make a nice solid matte.

Here you can also control whether you want to blend a little color back into the semi-transparent areas, if the spill-removal results in unwanted loss of color.

Color correction

Built into Keylight you'll find a very usable set of basic color correction tools, and separate color correction for the edges of the foreground. The basic tools are Saturation, Contrast and Brightness, but you'll also find Color Suppression, Suppression Bias, Suppression Amount and a nice Color Balance Wheel. The width and softness of the reach of the Edge Color Correction can be manually adjusted.

Conclusion

Well, I must say I'm impressed. This is a very, very complete set of tools, added to a very powerful keying algorithm. Besides the keyer you get matte tools, color correction with separate controls for edge color correction, inner and outer mask tools... the works. And it works really well. I would have been very happy with the addition of the basic keyer to After Effects, but Keylight is a huge bonus to the After Effects toolset.

So, is this the only keyer you'll ever need? Well, no. I tried Keylight on a wide variety of greenscreen and bluescreen shots, and it worked excellent on all the material. But Keylight is a chromakeyer, meaning that it works on the color information. It won't be very effective if you try to use it as a luminosity keyer, so it's always good to have a couple of different tools at hand.

The 76 page manual that The Foundry wrote for Keylight deserves a big compliment. It starts out with a quickstart guide which gets you up and running within minutes. The next part explains the basic theory behind the color keyer in very clear language. Then all the tools in the Keylight effect are explained, including why and when you'd need them, with very clear examples - the used images can be downloaded for practice at The Foundry. These same images are used in 20 pages of tutorials in the end of the manual. All in all I find the manual very well written, highly readable and a subtle touch of humour.

Well, as you can probably tell I'm sold. I think Keylight is almost worth the price of the upgrade alone. Unless you are sure that you won't find a single composition job on your doormat for a long time, I'd seriously consider upgrading to the Professional Edition of After Effects 6.0.

Keylight is bundled with both the full version and the upgrade to Adobe After Effects 6.0 Professional Edition (wow, that's a mouth full...) and will be bundled for the life of AE 6.0. It's not definit yet whether Keylight will be bundled with future versions and upgrades.

The Foundry says there are no current plans for selling Keylight separately from After Effects, and there's currently no time in their schedule to work on a stand-alons 2.0 version.

COW RATING: 5 Cows

 


Visit our forums and read other articles at Creativecow.net if you found this page from a direct link.



Related Articles / Tutorials:
Adobe After Effects
Best Results with After Effects Content-Aware Fill: Reference Frames

Best Results with After Effects Content-Aware Fill: Reference Frames

Join filmmaker and After Effects artist Cody Pyper for a deep dive into how to get the absolute best results using the Content-Aware Fill tool in After Effects. Locked-down shots with simple backgrounds are one thing, but Cody shows the details of how to get fantastic results with complicated backgrounds and a moving camera using reference frames.


Cody Pyper
Adobe After Effects
Adobe After Effects Reverse Stabilization

Adobe After Effects Reverse Stabilization

You're going to be blown away by how you can power up your After Effects workflow with reverse stabilizing your footage! By separating your tracking from your compositing, you can focus on each step, and in addition, overcome the render order complexities when match moving elements and effects on a moving shot.


Roei Tzoref
Adobe After Effects
After Effects Content Aware Fill: When It Doesn't  Work

After Effects Content Aware Fill: When It Doesn't Work

There’s a new artificial intelligence-powered feature in Adobe After Effects called Content-Aware Fill that allows you to remove anything from your shots fairly easily! It's powerful, but if you’ve tried it you know that it doesn’t always work perfectly. So what do you do when it doesn’t work as well as you'd hoped? Filmmaker Cody Pyper is here to show what to try next!


Cody Pyper
Adobe After Effects
VFX in Adobe After Effects: An Artists Panel (NAB)

VFX in Adobe After Effects: An Artists Panel (NAB)

Join panelists Andrew Kramer of Video Copilot, Jayse Hansen, and Mary Poplin of Boris FX, along with moderator, Victoria Nece of Adobe, as they discuss the world of visual effects from an artist’s perspective.


Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe After Effects
Scars, Tattoos & Digital Makeup: After Effects & Mocha Pro

Scars, Tattoos & Digital Makeup: After Effects & Mocha Pro

How do you add SCARS, TATTOOS or DIGITAL MAKEUP to a person's face? Learn how to use Mocha Pro's planar tracker and the Mesh Warp tool to insert a flat image/video on a (non flat) human face! Join VFX guru Tobias G from Surfaced Studio for a closer look!


Tobias G
Adobe After Effects
Compositing Secrets Everyone Can Use, Pt 5: Brightness

Compositing Secrets Everyone Can Use, Pt 5: Brightness

The first challenge to understanding the nature of brightness in compositing starts with remembering that we're not actually seeing color at all, but rather something of an illusion that appears to us as color! Join longtime VFX artist, editor, software developer, and business owner Simon Ubsdell for Part 5 of the best look behind the technology of compositing that you've ever seen, as he takes a look at the math behind brightness, and how to apply that to the compositing toolsets in your favorite editing, compositing, and color grading applications.

Tutorial
Simon Ubsdell
Adobe After Effects
60 Second Tutorial: Alien Invasion in Adobe After Effects

60 Second Tutorial: Alien Invasion in Adobe After Effects

Here's a fast, fun one! Sixty seconds to create and animate an alien using the 3D and Track Camera tools to animate your character in Adobe After Effects. Use the included files, or bring your own!

Tutorial
Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe After Effects
What Are Adobe Motion Graphics Templates?

What Are Adobe Motion Graphics Templates?

A Motion Graphics Template, referred to as a MOGRT, is an animated sequence that is self-contained and can be used in Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Premiere Rush and Adobe After Effects, combining graphics, text, audio and video files, as well as vector or still images (including logos), to create a still or animation that can then be customized by the MOGRT user. The result is a dynamic creative tool that provides design freedom and is consistent to its users across apps and devices. Reuse, share, and even sell them!


Rod Harlan
Adobe After Effects
Compositing Secrets Everyone Can Use Pt. 4 - Advanced Alphas

Compositing Secrets Everyone Can Use Pt. 4 - Advanced Alphas

When most people hear the words "alpha channels", they think "transparency", but that's not exactly accurate. The truth is more complex, and a quite bit more interesting! Join longtime VFX artist, editor, software developer, and business owner Simon Ubsdell for Part 4 of the best look behind the technology of compositing that you've ever seen, packed with practical advice for applying the secrets of alpha channels that's simply not possible before understanding these underlying principles. No matter which applications you're using for editing, compositing, or visual effects, this one is a must-see!

Tutorial
Simon Ubsdell
Adobe After Effects
Compositing Secrets Everyone Can Use: Pt. 3 - Alpha Channels

Compositing Secrets Everyone Can Use: Pt. 3 - Alpha Channels

When most people hear the words "alpha channels", they think "transparency", but that's not exactly accurate. The truth is more complex, and a quite bit more interesting! Join longtime VFX artist, editor, software developer, and business owner Simon Ubsdell for Part 3 of the best look behind the technology of compositing that you've ever seen, packed with practical advice for applying the secrets of alpha channels that's simply not possible before understanding these underlying principles. No matter which applications you're using for editing, compositing, or visual effects, this one is a must-see!

Tutorial
Simon Ubsdell
MORE
© 2020 CreativeCOW.net All Rights Reserved
[TOP]