Third Party Green Screen Keyers

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Green screen, or chroma key compositing, has been around since the 1930s. Developed by filmmakers at RKO Radio Pictures, it was used as a method to create complex visual effects that were before its time. Over the years, the process went from a painstakingly analog method to a digital method that can now be done on computers. Programs such as Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, and the like all have the ability to do basic greenscreen/bluescreen keying if your footage is in the optimal conditions. For complex and intricate situations, post professionals turn to programs like After Effects, Motion, Autodesk Smoke, or Nuke. Despite the programs that have greenscreen keying capabilities, there are many third party companies who have developed plugins to handle even the toughest keying processes. Let’s take a look at a few and see what each have to offer.

Primatte Keyer/KeyCorrect


Primatte Keyer is Red Giant’s premiere keyer solution for post professionals. Within its array of features are some of the following: auto compute algorithm for pulling a perfect key, key correction tools for refining mattes and backgrounds, and color matcher feature for matching the subject to their background. This plugin is one of the most trusted keying plugin on the market amongst professionals in film (Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Harry Potter, and Spider-Man) and television (Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, and Disney). This plugin is compatible on Mac and PC with programs ranging from Final Cut Pro, After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Motion. I can personally attest to its strengths and abilities as I’ve used it in my work quite often. I find it great to use when Keylight may not be enough to get the job done. For the price of $499, it is definitely a keyer solution to consider if you do a lot of it. Just take a look at its capabilities below.

If you are fine with keying with Keylight, you can get the tools of Key Correct to assist you. Key Correct lets you create perfect keys from an image shot against a colored background. These tools include a Rig/Wire Remover, Light Wrap, Color Matcher, Alpha Cleaner, and many other tools. I’ve personally used Key Correct’s tools on many projects and found it to perfectly complement Keylight when I may have challenging keys. Having both Key Correct and Primatte Keyer are definitely tools you should consider in your post production pipeline.

Boris Chroma Key Studio


Within the Boris Continuum Complete set is the Key and Blend unit. This unit automates the creation of precise keys with a minimal amount of adjustment. These filters strip away the complexity of chroma keying by automating matting, edge softening and refinement, and light wrapping and reflections to produce seamless composites each and every time. One plugin that stands out is the Chroma Key Studio. The Chroma Key Studio is an all-in-one keying suite similar to Primatte Keyer. It can do everything from screen enhancement, auto-garbage matte and masking, chroma key, matte cleanup, matte choker, foreground color correction, and light wrap into a single filter. In the tutorial below, Kevin P. McAuliffe demonstrates how versatile this plugin is and why it is a suitable solution for keying within your NLE. I’ve used it myself a few times and it is definitely a time-saver if I’m working in Premiere Pro or Media Composer as opposed to shipping it out to After Effects for chroma keying.

PHYX Keyer


The final keyer plugin on the list is the one from the Phyxware folks. Phyx Keyer 5 is a set of 10 plugins designed to give you even faster and more accurate keys than ever before. These plugins include the FastKeyer, ScreenCorrector, Lightwrap, and SkinTools. These tools have been used by companies such as AT&T, Autodesk, and Fox Sports. These plugins were also used on the feature film Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. In the tutorial above, you get to witness how versatile and fast these set of plugins are, whether you are in an NLE or compositing program. One thing to note about these plugins is that they function on Mac only and are installed through the FxFactory software engine. I’ve personally used the Keyer and other tools in this set, and I have to say that it is top notch. They really have tools to handle even the most difficult keying scenarios.

You’ve seen these industry leading third party keyers and what they can do. Feel free to download a trial and see what the hype is all about. I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.

Sound Effects

Superhero Effects in After Effects


I remember when I was first started learning After Effects, I wanted to know how to pull off visual effects that would allow me to have superhuman powers. That included learning how run like the Flash, fly like Superman, swing off a web like Spiderman, and much more. Over the years, I’ve learned these visual effects while also improving my efficiency with After Effects. However, there are many great tutorials out there on the web that show you how to achieve the effects of fantasy characters you grew up watching. I’m going to highlight a few tutorials that showcase pulling off superhero effects within After Effects so that you can add them to any of your projects.

Run Like the Flash

In this tutorial, After Effects whiz Mikey Borup shows you how to create a speed effect similar to the new CW show, The Flash. Utilizing greeen screen compositing, precompositions, and many native AE filters, Mikey is able to recreate the look of a person running super fast. This tutorial is especially great because Mikey covers everything from visual effects on his subject to making the subject’s background look like it’s moving really fast. Aside from this great tutorial, Mikey offers cool and useful After Effects tutorials twice a week which can be a great timesaver.

Power Ranger Morphing

From the folks of Hyperdrive Pictures, learn how to morph into a Power Ranger by following this seven part tutorial. In these series of tutorials, they cover using greenscreen clothing to get the floating look seen in the older version of Power Rangers, how to generate a static lightning background, as well the final part of the morph sequence when you see the Power Ranger helmet. Growing up, I was a fan of the Power Rangers and always wondered how they pulled off these morph sequences. Knowing that all I needed was some greenscreen, props, and Photoshopped images made it even better. Although they are using AE CS3, this effect will work in newer versions of AE, and you can take it a step further.

Heat Vision Effect

In this episode of Film Riot, Ryan Connolly puts his spin on creating the heat vision effect from Man of Steel, as well as making someone disintegrate. In After Effects, Ryan uses masks, a third party plugin known as 3D Stroke, glow, Optical Flares, and displacement effects to composite heat vision lasers onto the subject’s eyes. For the disintegration, Ryan used greenscreen, CC Scatterize, and a few other techniques to accomplish the effect. What I’ve always enjoyed about Ryan’s tutorials is how he can explain complex techniques in a short amount of time, yet make it comprehensive to anyone.

Web Sling Effect

Director and VFX artist Seth Worley demonstrates in this Red Giant tutorial how to do a web sling effect akin to Spiderman. Using greenscreen compositing, motion tracking, and Trapcode Particular, Seth shows us how he was able to make his subject look like he was swinging across the room on a web sling. Seth has always delivered great visual effects tutorials, and watching this makes it seem possible for anyone to swing across the room like Spiderman. Using Red Giant products, like Particular, also open the door to create many objects from particles if you have a good understanding of the plugin’s depth.

With the right amount of planning, video production equipment, and understanding of After Effects’s capabilities, you can live out your childhood fantasies of having superpowers. In my opinion, learning how to create effects like these were the conduit for learning how to use After Effects in the first place.

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