It ain’t easy…let me tell you what…

I currently have 18 shots in the show that I need to composite. They were shot against a green screen, and are to be added to several castle shots that were shot in Mexico…Bishops Castle to be exact. For the rough cut I just used the Chroma Keyer in FCP, but after futzing with it for a bit I knew that I wouldn’t rely on it for the main comp. Here is the raw image:

As you can see, there is a bit of motion blur. This is due to the fact that the footage was shot 24P with the Varicam…23.98 footage. The motion blur looks very filmic, so it is what we were looking for. But the FCP keyer didn’t key thru that/ Here is a still from that attempt:

Close…but not quite. So I was looking thru the Creative Cow Tutorials seeing if I could find something when the perfect solution seemed to present itself: KEYLIGHT in After Effects. So I imported the clips and added keylight, eyedroppered the green and BOOM..this happens:

WOW! Perfect. That is exactly what I wanted. Sweet…and that is the basic setting. I haven’t even started to choke the edges or anything. So, I did this and was happy. I moved to the next clip…and…something odd happened. Or rather, I noticed it for the first time. When I brought the clip into After Effects it seemed to brighten…the luminance increased. So I called a buddy of mine who is a Motion Graphics artist and asked him what was up. He said that he found that Keylight really wasn’t good for DVCPRO HD footage. It added noise to the blacks…something that I didn’t notice because the first clip I did this with was pretty light. But the second clip…well…look:

There are a lot of dark areas. So now I use Keylight and I got this:

Look close. Look in their hats and on the blue jacket on the man on the right…the one facing away from camera…light blue jacket. There is a lot of noise. Take a look again at the first pictures. Notice that the Keylight image is lighter as well. I turn off Keylight and it goes away. Nuts. Now what? My buddy says that for DVCPRO HD he uses a plugin called DVMatte Pro by DV Garage for After Effects. But it is available for FCP as well, so I download the demo and play with it. It keyed VERY well…I will have to say. BUT…but but but. Dang it there had to be a “but.” It doesn’t see thru the motion blur like Keylight does. It chops it off.

Look at that compared to the original shot:

Look specifically at the gun of the soldier on the left. Comparing them you can see that DV Matte Pro doesn’t see thru the blur, but chops it off. I went thru their tutorial and futzed with settings and still couldn’t get it to go away. PLUS…plus…I have the added feature that there are TWO SHADES of green screen.

The nice normal green you see in the upper part of the picture, and this dark green screen in the lower part of the picture. Keylight, the wonderful tool that it is, can key both colors. DV Matte Pro does not. Well, I couldn’t get it to. If anyone knows how to do this, let me know.

Another friend of mine, a commercial editor who inspired me to make my popsicle stick RAID, happens to know Shake very well, and says that Keylight with it works very well. And since Shake is really cheap right now ($499) I ordered it. Heck, if it is good enough for KING KONG and LORD OF THE RINGS and STAR WARS…it should work for me.

Testing it tomorrow.