Keying & Visual Effects

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Keying & Visual Effects are two ways to suspend reality in a shot. If they are done correctly, it looks amazing. If not, then it looks like a 7th grade film class project. But trust me when I say that Keying and Visual Effects are becoming increasingly popular and show no signs of slowing down. In fact, giving a VFX artist a properly keyed environment and actor with tracking markers is like receiving a blank check for your imagination.

Keying/chroma keying/green screen or any way you refer to it, is the use of a particular color to act as the matte of one layer. This combined layer is then placed above another layer which is your background. More often than not, the color is green. The use of keying can be small enough to show one person or large enough to fill an entire 50ft x 50ft x 40ft stage. Some stages can be the size of a shipping yard. Tracking markers can also be implemented in the scene as reference points for accurate camera movements.

Why is this cool? When you key someone, they can be placed anywhere. They can interact with anyone and if shot and timed properly, can lead to some of the most compelling CG on the screen. You can do massive set extensions. You can alter set locations. You can have the most random, imaginative CG characters interacting with your actors. You can even film your actors in different locations around the world at different times and with keying, it will look completely seamless. Flexibility is what keying gives you. Unlimited amounts of flexibility for your project.

Then you add on visual effects and you have yourself one convincing project. Visual effects include color correction, enhancements, and adding video elements to help achieve a goal. We’re talking explosions, buildings, futuristic machines, giant stages, set extensions and more!

In this video, little tricks were done to make this entire video possible.

  1. Two actors who were duplicated multiple times to become a crowd of paparazzi.
  2. Didi, the main actress, was shot with a locked down camera. All the movements were digital zooms and pans in a virtual environment in Cinema 4D.
  3. The card was CG.
  4. Same Cirque performer is on both sides, but his uniform was altered in post.
  5. All actors were shot separately at separate times and different days, and were then stitched together.

Why is this important. Boils down to time an money. Without keying, you then have to rotoscope your image, which can take forever and cost some serious cash. Sets and miniatures can costs thousands to hundreds of thousands in parts and labor. Some sets are simply not possible without the use of computers because the shot would be either impossible to do or very dangerous.

Now that the boundaries have been defined, which simply are that there are no boundaries, now is the time to ask if you’re ready to step forward and make something happen. Click here to reach the contact page and we can talk about your upcoming project and how I and my team of awesome experts can help you.

3 Comments

  1. Sam
    19 April 12, 9:27am

    hi, Sir Al Heck, just want to say you are a good teacher, tanx for you tuts, keep doning you stuff, i´m following it.

  2. Nikolaus
    21 March 12, 10:21am

    I really love to see a tutorial for this nice card effect. How to track etc. 🙂 By the way: great work and good to hear from you. Long time busy with work i think?

    Nikolaus

    • 21 March 12, 10:04pm

      Yeah, What’s up Nikolaus. Just trying to make a living. I’d love to make tutorials, but got to pay the bills first. I didn’t see the link though. PM me and I’ll take a look.

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