Dont have time or budget to shoot various people in a blue or green screen studio cyk? Also don't have the time or the software to create a perfect chromakey and/or rotoscope to pull that perfect matte? If this is the case, Post Holes may be the solution youre looking for. Marco Solorio reviews their latest 2-disk DVD set available on NTSC SD.
Lets look at the common way you normally obtain matted talent for your productions.
Find talent via talent agency.
Set up or rent a blue/green studio cyk
Set up or rent production crew (dont forget your chromakey technical director!)
Shoot your talent (on something better than DV25, please)
Put up with your talents wants and needs
Buy lunch for everyone (if youre nice)
Send source tapes to editor for capturing
Send selected clips to your digital composite artist
Spend time pulling that perfect matte. Rotoscope if need be.
Send completed clip back to editor for final edit integration
Thats a fairly long list of costly production elements required to get the matted shot youre looking for. If by chance Post Holes has a similar shot youre looking for or can fit into your production, then you literally only need to do the final step in the above list. Heck, the price of a Post Holes DVD could be less than buying lunch for everyone at your shoot!
So what kind of quality are you getting with these Post Holes clips? Very good quality for starters. I asked the people at Post Holes which format these shots were acquired in. They told me these clips were all originally shot on a Sony HDW-F900 CineAlta HD camera running at 1080p at 29.97. Im glad they didnt do it at 1080i since that would involve messy interlaced fields. Its obvious that the people at Post Holes really went in and optimized the mattes for these clips. It appears that some stuff was in fact rotoscoped for obtaining the best matte possible.
To maintain the original RGB[A] source and image quality, all the clips supplied on these DVDs use the QuickTime Animation codec at 100% quality. This means these clips are literally what you're seeing from the compositing apps they used to create the alpha channel mattes; a lossless transfer. And since theyre in RGB[A], theyre not adding any additional color-space compression via 4:2:2 YCrCb chroma-sampling, or heaven forbid, 4:1:1 sampling for DV25 with 5:1 file compression. So in essence, youre getting the same exact file that Post Holes team created on their compositing applications. No added compression or image data loss. Post Holes might want to look into BitJazzs Sheer Video codec for even better file size efficiency in lossless RGB[A]. The decoder is free and works on Mac and Windows.
These files are sized at 720x486. This is nice for us that work in uncompressed D1 in NTSC. For DV25 users, simply crop out the top four rows and the bottom two rows to create a 720x480 size image.
Unfortunately there isnt a PAL version offered from Post Holes. And although these clips were originally shot on HD, there unfortunately isnt an HD format offered either. I asked Post Holes about this and they said there wont be a PAL or HD version from these first two series, but future series will be NTSC, PAL and HD.
Using these Post Holes clips couldnt be any easier. If your application of choice supports QuickTime clips with alpha-channel support (what doesnt?), then youre ready to go. Simply drop your clip of choice in the timeline or layout and youre golden.
I did find that the clips are fairly flat in contrast, which can be good in some cases so you obtain full image latitude. With my test below, I did end up color correcting the clip a tad, but not much. To add a little spice, I time-remapped the clip as well, ramping the frame-rate speed up and down. Oh and I absolutely HAD to use this clip out of the collection... what a hottie!!! I'm in love.
Original clip showing both RGB and Alpha channel split--click graphic to view movie
Composited clip with background and time-remapping click graphic to view movie
Post Holes really made buying these clips easy and flexible. You can either buy a single DVD, the DVD set or individual clips off their website. Buying the clips individually off their website allows you to use them immediately (depending on your internet connections download speed of course).
Lets also not forget that these clips are royalty-free so after you use them the first time, you never have to pay for it ever again. Nada, zip, zilch. Nice.
Theres no question that the quality of these clips shine through. Each clip has about 30 seconds worth of material, so you should find a useful shot within the clip you selected. I think the images are a little flat, but that can be a good thing in some situations. The only real limitation in these clips is the fact that youre limited only to what shots Post Holes offers you. If however they have a shot you can use, then youve just saved yourself a ton of production budget. All in all, Id say these are a great buy IF you can use the shots. Its a bit of a shame that some of the clips are a little too weird to be used. Id like to see more clips that would attract a larger user-base. But thats just a personal opinion.
Nothing could be easier to use
Individual clips have good TRTs
Oragnized thumbnail indexing
Flexible purchase options, including instant download
No PAL or HD versions
Library is still a little small. Would like to see more choices
Duplicated DVD-R instead of replicated DVD (prone to extra wear)
If they have a shot that can work in your production, then the choice couldnt be more obvious considering the VERY pricey alternative of production time and matte-generation time. The quality is there and couldnt be easier to work with. Good stuff.
I give this product 4.5 out of 5 Cows.
Price as tested:
$249.00 Two-disk DVD set containing 60 clips.
Marco Solorio is a multi-award winning digital media producer and published writer working in the San Francisco Bay Area. He owns and operates OneRiver Media, a succesful post-production facility focused on bringing the highest level of quality to each and every project in a reality-TV driven era of "cheap, fast and cheap". Marco Solorio is also credited for the internationally recognized OneRiver Media Codec Resource Site, a resource that compares various codecs for the benefit of end-users and developers alike.
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