21 Replies Latest reply on Jul 8, 2011 6:27 AM by Dave Merchant

    Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?

    Toomany3 Level 1

      Just curious what everyone's workflow is for a larger greenscreen project.  I don't normally do a lot of greenscreen, maybe 15 cuts worth on 3 clips per project.

       

      But now I've got a bigger project with 40+ shots x 3 cameras each (Multicam) and now I'm getting boggled down.  My project is starting to look like a warzone and I'm looking for an alternative. 

       

      MY CURRENT WORKFLOW

      1. I import my GS footage to PP timeline. 
      2. Lay 4 cameras of footage into "root level" sequence for syncing multicam as normal. (layers 1-4).
      3. Drop "root" sequence into a "MC sequence", enable MC edit, etc. (the normal drill for multicam editing)
      4. Make my cuts, trim the fat
      5. go back to my root sequence of the MC (where my 4 cameras are), send each clip to After Effects for keying and camera color matching via dynamic link.
      6. Come back to Premiere and realize Keylight and my other color correcting layers on the clips won't allow me to view real time in Premiere, so I
      7. render out a low rez .MOV w/ alpha of each clip from AE - proxy clips (thus adding more footage to my project)
      8. Move full-res, dynamicaaly linked AE keyed clips (my final, good ones) on layers 5-8
      9. Place proxy clips on layers 1-4 in root level of Multicam from above. 
      10. Get good playback on proxy videos
      11. Continue edititing project till everything is perfect
      12. Go back to all my root multicam sequences and swap proxies for linked AE comps. (and hope I didn't miss any)

       

      Surely I'm doing something stupid here because by the time I'm all done, I have a gazillion clips everywhere and a bazillion AE comps all over too.  Any suggestions to how YOU work or where you think I'm off would be greatly appreciated.

       

      Thanks!

        • 1. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
          Colin Brougham Level 6

          Any reason you haven't tried Ultra keyer in Premiere Pro? It's pretty solid on well-lit footage, and best of all, it's CUDA accelerated so you edit all that stuff in realtime. Keylight is certainly more powerful, but it'll really kill your productivity if you're trying to edit with DL'ed versions (as you've found).

           

          I do a fair bit of keying work, and Ultra works 95% of the time unless I've got a poorly-lit shot, or someone with really foofy hair.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
            Toomany3 Level 1

            Hmm... Don't know why I've never tried it... or even looked for it, for that matter.  Stuck in a rut.  I will give that a go today.  I've got good lighting, so it should work.    

            • 3. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
              Colin Brougham Level 6

              Just combine it with Premiere's rather pathetic garbage mattes (also GPU accelerated) and you'll have a pretty snappy keying workflow. I multicam with it without a problem. Ultra isn't as powerful as Keylight by any stretch, but for most footage, it's more than sufficient. Just be sure to flip into Alpha Channel view mode to clean up the matte. I save effect presets with the garbage matte and Ultra effect once I get it tweaked for easy application to other shots. Real-time keying is da bomb.

               

              This was keyed with Ultra in about 90 seconds:

               

              • 4. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                Toomany3 Level 1

                Hmm... I guess some of my keys aren't that good.  I'm not getting a perfect key with it for sure. 

                 

                But, this DOES help me with one BIG thing and that is taking the proxy renders out of the mix.  I can just apply this not-so-perfect key to my GS layer and call it a day, as far as editing purposes go.

                 

                As a sidenote (maybe I should post this in a new topic), how could I denote my low-quality layer so when I'm ready to final render I don't accidentally render out the ugly key?  Is there a way I could put a red X on that layer (without using the text tool)?

                • 5. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                  Colin Brougham Level 6

                  Is there a way I could put a red X on that layer (without using the text tool)?

                   

                  Not that I'm aware of. You could nest the keyed clip into a sequence, and then add your X on a track above the keyed clip. When you're ready to finalize, go into the nest and turn off the X, or you could even replace the keyed clip with a DL comp and do your keying with Keylight. This actually isn't a bad workflow--a lot of times, it's better to edit with a nested sequence, because you can easily replace your proxy in the nest instead of trying to replace edit after edit in your final sequence.

                  • 6. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                    Toomany3 Level 1

                    Colin Brougham wrote:

                     

                    Just combine it with Premiere's rather pathetic garbage mattes (also GPU accelerated) and you'll have a pretty snappy keying workflow. I multicam with it without a problem. Ultra isn't as powerful as Keylight by any stretch, but for most footage, it's more than sufficient. Just be sure to flip into Alpha Channel view mode to clean up the matte. I save effect presets with the garbage matte and Ultra effect once I get it tweaked for easy application to other shots. Real-time keying is da bomb.

                     

                    This was keyed with Ultra in about 90 seconds:

                     

                    90 seconds?  Impressive!  Looks good.

                     

                    Here's the best I've been able to come up with.  I'm getting a lot of fall off on the edges so I guess I need more miles behind this.  A lot less functions than Keylight, but it's certainly a step in the right direction.

                     

                    Capture.PNG

                    Capture3.PNGCapture4.JPG

                     

                    I know it's not color corrected for the scene, but it still has a hokey look to me on the edges.  That's as good as I can get it.  Maybe I just need some more experience, but it seems like I'm pushing the whites/blacks to the limit... I'll mess around a bit more.

                     

                    Thanks a lot for the tips!

                    • 7. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                      Toomany3 Level 1

                      Opps, forgot my settings page.

                       

                      Capture.JPG

                      • 8. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                        Toomany3 Level 1

                        I guess I can get a little closer fiddling around with it.  It is a lot less forgiving than Keylight, but I certainly will add this to my workflow from now on. At the very least, I'm going to use it in lieu of my proxy workflow.          

                         

                        I love how it is so snappy!

                        cap1.JPG

                        • 9. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                          Colin Brougham Level 6

                          Well, definitely start with a garbage matte (probably at least the 8-point) around the subject. That eliminates a big chunk of the screen that you don't have to worry about keying (which you can see that in the matte clip).

                           

                          I use the eyedropper to pick the screen color; hold down Ctrl to sample a slightly larger region--and click around in a few different place until you find the best color to start with. Then, I go back and forth through the Matte Generation settings to set the matte; I usually slide them out to full-tilt and then back in until I get a good clean key. It's convenient to be able to see both the screen and the alpha at the same time, so open up a Reference Monitor and set the view to Alpha; that way you can leave the effect Output set to Composite. You'll have to turn off your background layer, though, so you can see the effect of the alpha in the Reference Monitor (since a sequence is actually transparent, not black).

                           

                          Once you get the screen tweaked, go into Matte Cleanup to refine the edges. If you've got a good key set up in Matte Generation, you really shouldn't have to do much here--and a little goes a long way. Finally, Spill Supression can help you clean up the edges, where you get a little green bleed--particularly if your subject is a little too close to the screen. I don't use the Color Correction in Ultra; it's super-basic, and since the other more powerful CC effects are GPU accelerated, they work great if you stack them after the Ultra effect to tweak just the keyed output.

                           

                          There is very little standard practice when it comes to keying, as you're no doubt aware. A lot of it has to do with good material to start with, but I've even rescued truly awful shots with Ultra. Once you get a hang of how Ultra works, you can rip through your keying work--real-time preview is a huge benefit.

                          • 10. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                            Dave Merchant MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                            I agree that Ultra Key is a great addition to Prem Pro, but if you need to run your clips through AE (either to use Keylight or to run color correction), it can be better to forget about it until the end.

                             

                            If you can get your head around what the final output will be without seeing it, you don't actually need CC and keying on the Prem Pro timeline to make your edits (if it's vital, drop a temporary and dirty Ultra Key just so you can see the stuff underneath, then remove it again). Once your timeline is locked down, throw the entire sequence into AE (just copy/paste the entire sequence), apply all your effects, and output from there. It's far easier to match clips this way, as you have everything on the same comp, plus there are some nifty AE scripts available to manage trimming and frame handles. Sure, AE can't play back in real time and audio is a pain, but at the point you move into AE you no longer need to watch it like that, as you know from Prem Pro that the sequence is cut right.

                             

                            No hard and fast rules, some people put footage through AE first, some rough-cut in Prem Pro, dynamic-link to AE halfway through, then finish in Prem Pro; but AE is the king of final touches - applying a grade to an entire sequence is a 5-second job with a new adjustment layer - so IMO it makes sense for it to be the last link in the chain, and in that case there's no point going there twice.

                             

                            Real-time playback is a great way to impress people passing your desk, but you don't need to watch footage at 24fps to key it - and if you do, you'll probably miss something.

                            1 person found this helpful
                            • 11. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                              Toomany3 Level 1

                               

                              If you can get your head around what the final output will be without seeing it, you don't actually need CC and keying on the Prem Pro timeline to make your edits (if it's vital, drop a temporary and dirty Ultra Key just so you can see the stuff underneath, then remove it again). Once your timeline is locked down, throw the entire sequence into AE (just copy/paste the entire sequence), apply all your effects, and output from there.

                               

                              That's pretty much how I'm doing it now.  The only thing with this is that we have a whole other step after it goes to AE.  I'm not just throwing on a key and a simple background plate.  Once in AE we do a bunch of motion effects (moving text, chaning background, etc.).  It's a kids' show, so there's lots of graphic and sound effects. 

                               

                              You really don't know how the final AE comp is going to turn out until, well, it turns out.  Once the AE comp is done, I need to add sound effects back into it since they have to be timed and everyone knows it's more pleasurable to get a tooth extraction without anethesia than it is to do audio in After Effects.  So, back to Premiere the clip goes.

                               

                              Here are two sample videos that show the style/type of greenscreen we're doing.  One has sound effects, other is a bit rough yet.  Password is password10 for both videos.   http://vimeo.com/26116615 and http://vimeo.com/26118262  If you notice, the "plates" are in front of and behind the talents, so just bringing in a keyed clip of the talent and then a background plate with the flying words can't work since the person needs to be in the world, not in front of it exclusively.

                               

                              I thought I had a perfect workflow worked out yesteray until I sent it out to rendered and saw that the "it's heavy" form the guy's video (me, by the way), is behind me instead of in front.

                               

                              So I guess the only way I see how I can do this is


                              1. get my footage into AE for keying. 
                              2. Render out monsterous-sized Quicktime animations.
                              3. Send to Premiere to get cut, multicamed
                              4. Render out low rez version to be able to have a reference for graphic effects in AE.
                              5. Send sequence back to AE for GFX
                              6. Get GFX done (text, plates, etc.). 
                              7. Render out a low rez version of GFX video (talent + GFX) to open in Premiere. 
                              8. Import my AE comp via dynamic link back into Premiere. 
                              9. Add sound effects there. 
                              10. Turn off the low rez layer before final rendering so final render renders video directly from the AE project.

                               

                              Sounds too convuluted to be the best way. 

                              • 12. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                                Colin Brougham Level 6
                                If you notice, the "plates" are in front of and behind the talents, so just bringing in a keyed clip of the talent and then a background plate with the flying words can't work since the person needs to be in the world, not in front of it exclusively.

                                 

                                So, why not do multiple comps--three or more--for your background plate, keyed subject (if you want to do your keying in AE instead of PPro with Ultra), and foreground elements? You could even build everything in one master comp, and then just precomp the individual "depths" and DL those precomps into Premiere Pro.

                                 

                                PS: The water bit cracked me up. Reminded me of another fine Canadian show of my youth: You Can't Do That On Television

                                • 13. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                                  Colin Brougham Level 6

                                  OK, let me try an alternate crack at the workflow, and see how this strikes you:

                                   

                                  1. Add each of your GS angles to its own sequence; use whatever method tickles your fancy.
                                  2. Set up your multicam GS footage in Premiere Pro by dropping each angle's sequence into a track in a sync sequence (yeah, you know this part).
                                  3. Drop the sync sequence into a new sequence, and do the multicam thang. At this point, you've got an edited sequence, not yet keyed.
                                  4. Jump into the sync sequence, and use Ultra on each of the angles' sequences; technically, you could do this inside those sequences, but this might make it easier to tweak each key.
                                  5. Now, your edited multicam sequence is keyed, with alpha; you could either sandwich this between your foreground and background elements, or...
                                  6. ...export an alpha movie from the edited multicam. DNxHD would be a fine choice here, since it can contain alpha. You can then import this into AE and it will be MUCH faster than trying to work with Keylight-ed clips.
                                  7. Build your AE comps with foreground and background graphics. Precomp the background and foreground into separate comps, and DL those to Premiere. You can now put those behind and in front of your edited and keyed multicam sequence (you're using that instead of the alpha movie you rendered).
                                  8. Don't want to use Ultra for the final? No problem. Jump into those initial sequences you set up--you know, the ones with the individual angles--and copy and paste the video clip from V1 to V2. Turn off the visibility on V1, and then replace the V2 clip with a DL comp (right-click, Replace with AE Comp). See where I'm going here? You can then key your footage with Keylight in AE, and that will trickle down to your final multicam edit. Best thing is you can turn off the AE comp tracks in your original sequences and go back to the Ultra tracks if you want a little more speed in your final assembly.

                                   

                                  Alright, I was spooling that out without actually trying it, but I think I got everything. Make sense?

                                  • 14. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                                    Toomany3 Level 1

                                    Colin Brougham wrote: [ A lot of steps ]

                                    Sweet!  That's sort'a how I cut the two sample videos you see, less a couple steps you mentioned.   I used Ultra as a proxy, but not exaclty as you mentioned.

                                     

                                    I'm going to give it a go right now.  I've got another I need to pump out today.  Thanks for the awesome tips!

                                     

                                    Yes, I'd rather final key in Keylight.  Maybe it's my key, or maybe it's me, but my best Ultra keys aren't exactly what I want them to look like.  But for a intermediate step, I don't care.  They'd show me how my effects are playing out in AE, and they'd be easy to watch in PR when I need to come back to add sound.

                                     

                                    When I was working on them yesterday, there were a couple things that made me go crazy with the dynamic linking (like seeing through layers (seeing other GS plates) when they weren't supposed to be visible.  I had a twin with me, annoyingly mocking my every move behind my back!  I'll catch him some day!).  You mentioned 1 or 2 additional steps I hadn't thought out, so hopefully that was the break I've been needing.... off to the reality check!

                                    • 15. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                                      Colin Brougham Level 6

                                      Yes, I'd rather final key in Keylight.  Maybe it's my key, or maybe it's me, but my best Ultra keys aren't exactly what I want them to look like.  But for a intermediate step, I don't care.  They'd show me how my effects are playing out in AE, and they'd be easy to watch in PR when I need to come back to add sound.

                                       

                                      That's totally understandable; unquestionably, Keylight is the superior keyer. That's why I suggested "prenesting" in Premiere Pro so that you can easily swap between the Ultra keyed shot and the Keylight keyed DL comp. You could even save that until the very last step before export; just use Ultra for much better editing performance. For the record, I've actually request an Ultra-to-Keylight translator, so that when you sent Ultra'ed clips to AE, you'd get a jump start on a Keylight key. Join me, won't you?

                                       

                                      Let me know how the test goes! I think I might even have a similar multiangle setup I could demonstrate, if I got my schtuff together


                                      • 16. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                                        Toomany3 Level 1

                                        Well, it works!  x 100!    Yea!

                                         

                                        The only thing now that I'm concerned about is a final color pass for the whole project.  How would I do it now in AE?  I usually dish the whole thing off to AE after we're all done and add a little love here and there.

                                         

                                        Since my final sequence now has a bunch of dynamically linked AE projects, I'm getting the color bar indicating (assuming) a circular reference.  I even closed out my AE project and opened a new one thinking that it wouldn't be circular there, but (again assuming), AE can't dynamically sync with itself.  (Guessing here).

                                         

                                        cap.JPG

                                        I'm sue I can find a way around this if necessary (Color Finess for Premiere comes to mind).  Just before crossign that bridge, any other ideas?

                                         

                                        And, again, again, THANK YOU!!!!

                                        • 17. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                                          Colin Brougham Level 6

                                          Rock!

                                           

                                          Well, what do you want to CC? Your subject? Or the whole shebang? If it's just your subject, you can obviously do that in your comps in AE. If you want to do the whole shebang, you'll have to modify the workflow a bit to do your final assembly in AE. Perhaps you could just send your audio as either a mixdown or maybe a DL'ed comp to AE, and finalize there. Put all your precomps into a final CC comp, and go to town.

                                           

                                          And, for what it's worth, I wouldn't totally write off the CC effects in PPro. Between Three-Way CC and RGB Curves, I can get most everything I need.

                                          • 18. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                                            Toomany3 Level 1

                                            And, for what it's worth, I wouldn't totally write off the CC effects in PPro. Between Three-Way CC and RGB Curves, I can get most everything I need.

                                             

                                            Yeah, I agree.  I also use Fast Color Corrector quite a bit to boost saturation (it's a kids' show right?) and any other little things...   We don't generally mess with the color that much.  But ever few shows we do a Bible reinactment in 24p and turn it all over-the-top filmy.  If I had to, I could probably do most all of it in Premiere. 

                                             

                                            Thanks again!  I wish I could click on the "solved" button 100 times.    

                                            • 19. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                                              Colin Brougham Level 6

                                              If you need quick-'n'-dirty film looks that render pretty durn fast, check out Pixelan AnyFX. They're dirt cheap, and though pretty basic, you can get some pretty nice looks quickly by just dropping one of the "Film Touch" presets on a clip. I'll usually use a fast rendering CC effect like... um... Fast Color Corrector to set the stage, and then pop one of those in place and I'm good to go. I've got Magic Bullet Looks and while that's certainly powerful, it's a pain to use. AnyFX mostly does the job in a fraction of the time.

                                               

                                              Glad you found this useful! Hope it makes the process a little bit smoother for you going forward. I should probably do a tutorial or something on this, eh?

                                              • 20. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                                                Toomany3 Level 1

                                                Glad you found this useful! Hope it makes the process a little bit smoother for you going forward. I should probably do a tutorial or something on this, eh?

                                                 

                                                Eh, for sure!  I was going to do one myself for my internal staff.  I'll play around with it for the next week and work out any kinks and report back if anything can be simplified.  Sure a lot of sequences and a lot of cross references that can easily get missed.  My biggest fear is that we send something out to product that was a proxy render.  Opps!  I did that once on an AE title sequence and I've been afraid of that ever since!  I had one HD layer proxied out and it happened to be one of the more important parts of the sequence.  It looked great on my monitor, but not on a big TV.  Opps!

                                                 

                                                I figured out my "red x" deal.  When you're working on your own project you take a mental audit what needs to be done before pressing the render button, but if you pass a project off to someone else, you can bet that something's going to get missed.

                                                 

                                                So I put a red x text layer on the very top of my nested/synced sequence.  Then I locked the layer so that it is always on (one added step, I guess).  So upon final render, one would have to purposesly go into the sequences and turn off the red x AND the proxies...  I figure it's kind'a like tying a string on your finger.

                                                • 21. Re: Big Greenscreen Project.  Workflow?
                                                  Dave Merchant MVP & Adobe Community Professional

                                                  There's another option to get grading from AE's tools (Color Finesse LE, etc.) into Prem Pro using look-up tables, though the end result isn't accelerated...

                                                   

                                                   

                                                  1) Install Magic Bullet LUT Buddy (free, works on both Prem and AE, inc. in CS5.5)

                                                  2) Load something representative into an AE project (a still from your timeline will do, just so you can see what you're doing in CC).

                                                  3) Apply an instance of LUT Buddy, set to "generate pattern".

                                                  4) Apply your CC effects.

                                                  5) Apply another LUT Buddy instance, set to "read pattern", then click it's options button and export a 3D ".cube" LUT to a file.

                                                  6) In Prem, apply a LUT Buddy effect to your footage, load the file you just saved, and bingo - exactly the same grade.

                                                   

                                                  You can also use a similar workflow to grade S-log footage (from Canons with Technicolor / Marvels Cine).