All Articles Final Cut
FCP X 10.0.3: An Even Better Keyer
Iain Anderson on Thu, March 15th 8 comments
The latest update for Apple's FCP X (10.0.3) improved the built-in chroma keyed feature. Iain Anderson demonstrates just how much of an impact these improvements will have on everyday workflows.

Final Cut Pro X has many strengths, and the new Keyer is one of them. Assuming you've shot your footage cleanly, you'll get great results as soon as you apply it. And yes, you can tweak the results to improve it even further. But what if near enough isn't good enough? Here we'll explore two options to get an even better keyer with FCP X 10.0.3.

In this tutorial, we'll be using sample footage from the nice people at http://www.hollywoodcamerawork.us/greenscreenplates.html, so go ahead and download their Hair Detail clip. The clip is provided as an image sequence, so you'll need to use QuickTime Player 7 or Motion to turn them into a movie. The process with Motion:

  1. Create a new project using the 1080p24 preset, with duration set to 3 seconds and 7 frames.
  2. New project

  3. Choose the first file 'hcw_locked_backdrop.00000.png', tick the Image Sequence checkbox at the bottom of the dialog, then press Import.
  4. Save your Motion project as 'For Keying'.
  5. Share > Export Movie and choose to include Video only.

  6. Export the movie

Now you've got a movie that will work at full speed, at very high quality.

Import this movie into FCP X.


Step 1 - Limitations of the old 10.0.2 Keyer effect

We've looked at the basic functions of the Keyer effect before [http://www.macprovideo.com/hub/final-cut/how-to-green-or-blue-screen-in-fcp-x]. Here, I've connected the clip to be keyed above a 'Vivid' generator set to blue.

The Keyed clip above a Vivid generator

The Keyed clip above a Vivid generator

FCP X 10.0.2's Keyer effect does pretty well, but without additional controls, it can be tricky to tweak the results with just the built-in controls. For example, stray hairs around the foreground talent show visibly lighter edges against dark blue or black. No matter how you pull the Edges sliders, they just won't go away. The options you need to tweak didn't exist until 10.0.3, unless you used Motion.

Just the Keyer effect applied

Just the Keyer effect applied


Step 2 - Matte Tools

The Matte Tools in the new FCP X 10.0.3 Keyer are a good place to start. You can tweak the edges in new ways, by shrinking, feathering or eroding the edges. However, the easiest way to improve this key is to finesse the edges using the Bias slider.

  1. In the Inspector, open the Matte Tools section of the Keyer effect
  2. Open the Levels control to see Black, White and Bias (essentially Gamma) controls. Drag Bias to the left as far as you can without hitting 0, and watch as the edges tighten up. Go too far however, and the edges break.
  3. Against a dark blue background this can produce decent results, though it won't be perfect against black. You can soften the results by turning Mix down, to bring some of the original edges back. Definitely an improvement, and for some jobs, it will be enough. But you want this one to look good against black, eh? OK then. Let's try another strategy.

The same clip with the Matte Magic effect added after the Keyer

The same clip with the Matte Magic effect added after the Keyer


Step 3 - Work against black

We'll start the effect again, nearly from scratch:

  1. Reset the Matte Tools controls by pressing the reset button in that section.
  2. In the Timeline, move your keyed clip all the way to the right, and drop it in place after your background.
  3. We'll leave the background as black for now, to show the worst possible edge fringing.

Without changing any settings, on black '

Without changing any settings, on black '" the hardest background possible. 


Step 4 - Advanced Chroma options

  1. Make sure your keyed clip is still selected.
  2. Visit the Inspector and look at Filters to see a new range of controls hidden by disclosure triangles.
  3. Open each of the other sections: Advanced, Spill Suppression, and Light Wrap.
  4. Advanced is even more complex than it first appears.
  5. Adjust the Chroma selection by dragging on any side of the selected color range arc, to get the color selection just right.
  6. Start with the Scrub Boxes control selected, then switch to Manual for finer control over edge tolerance. (Don't switch back to Scrub Boxes after switching to Manual.)

The Advanced section, where you can adjust fine details of the key's Chroma and Luma

The Advanced section, where you can adjust fine details of the key's Chroma and Luma 

Manual gives you access to the with the Luma controls below the Chroma, and to the inner color box in the Chroma area.

In this tiny box, dragging the inner curved edge slightly away from the center of the color wheel to make the key slightly less aggressive. This restores some fine hair, at the cost of a slightly noisier background.

The Fix Video option here softens the jaggy edges that can result from the reduced color space (likely 4:2:2 or 4:2:0) that most cameras produce. You can safely disable this if your video source is 4:4:4.


Step 5 - Spill Suppression tools

Spill Suppression is what we need to fix this problem, and specifically the Spill Contrast control.

  • Use the disclosure triangle here to expose separate sliders for Black and White.
  • To lighten edge fringing that's too dark, you could drag the black point up. Here, though, we need to darken edge fringing that's too light, and we'll drag the white point down, quite a long way, to about 0.3. Note that the subject becomes slightly darker when you adjust this option, but this can be fixed with the Color Board (or some other sneaky tricks '" perhaps a future article).
  • Experiment with different settings for the Matte Tools sliders. They will interact with the Spill Suppression settings.

The starting settings for Spill Suppression

The starting settings for Spill Suppression 

Light Wrap is an attractive option. It lets light from the background bleed over the top of the foreground element to help sell the effect. However, you will need to incorporate a background element into your project for this option to work, and we'll leave this off for now.

Light wrap '

Light wrap '" you'll need a background element to use this 


Step 6 - Torture testing

To make sure that this result looks good against all backgrounds, we'll now perform a torture test: 

  1. In the bottom right of the Viewer, make sure that the Loop Playback button is selected.
  2. Drag the keyed clip back on top of the Vivid generator, to connect it above.
  3. Select your Vivid generator, and access the Color Board by pressing Command-6.
  4. Press Play.
  5. Drag the Global color puck around while the movie plays.

If the key is good, it should work on all kinds of backgrounds '" and this one should.

Phew! There's a lot to take in. The bottom line: FCP X's Keyer is good without tweaks, but challenging keying jobs can be dealt with too'"with or without Motion. Good luck!

The final result after tweaking in FCP X

The final result after tweaking in FCP X



Related Videos
Comments (8)

You must be logged in to comment.

  • jUAn
    Hi, thanks for this great post. I´m using the keyer to get an extra-white background in my test video of an iPhone screen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMsPSgrse10 The problem I have with the green background is that this green is used in some apps or icons, and then this green icons are converted to white. Can I exclude one area from keyer effect so I can exclude the iphone screen? Do you know other way to do this? Thanks a lot!!!
    • 8 years ago
    • By: jUAn
    Reply
  • Iain Anderson
    Yes, it shouldn't be too hard. Essentially, you want a cropped, unkeyed copy of your footage connected on top of your keyed footage, and in sync with it. You'll crop that top copy to just the screen on the phone. The clip below will still have the Keyer applied, so it'll take care of the edges where they meet the hands. Sound good?
    • 8 years ago
    • By: Iain Anderson
    Reply
  • Iain Anderson
    I should also mention that a similar technique is the basis of the "sneaky tricks" mentioned in step 5. I'll try to cover this in detail in a future article here on The Hub.
    • 8 years ago
    • By: Iain Anderson
    Reply
  • Unique1
    Hi guys this is my first post on here. I was just wondering if someone could help me in regards to Final Cut Pro X. When I Share using H.264 Codec at full 1920 x 1080 which is then saved as a Quick Time Movie. Once played the picture is the original picture. The problem is, once imported into iDVD the picture goes darker. Does anybody know the reason for this and how to fix this problem. I have tried to find this info on many forums with no info. Thanking you.
    • 7 years ago
    • By: Unique1
  • jUAn
    Thanks!!!!!! sounds perfect, and it works!!!! It´s my first contact with FCPX and I don´t know all options availables, but I like a lot the few things I do. The more I use and learn, the more I like. Tonight I will save a new video, without move the iPhone ...in this one a move the iPhone screen so the crop area is ok until the screen change it´s position....and test other lights position....I will post it here :) It´s possible to move the crop area in one frame so the previous position affect to previous frames, and after this frame use the new area? Thanks a lot....!!!!
    • 8 years ago
    • By: jUAn
    Reply
  • Iain Anderson
    Yes, you can move the crop by moving the keyframes, but if it gets a little complex, you might be better off using a mask effect instead. There are some built-in and some you can add for free — one from Alex4D, for example: http://alex4d.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/mask-plus-fcpx-effects/
    • 8 years ago
    • By: Iain Anderson
    Reply
  • jUAn
    Thanks again!!! Here is a mini-test with your crop idea: http://youtu.be/Pe7i28Ylc3M Sure I will need Alex4D for future videos....I´ll install it right now.
    • 8 years ago
    • By: jUAn
    Reply
  • Iain Anderson
    Sounds like a gamma shift problem. Try using ProRes instead of H.264.
    • 7 years ago
    • By: Iain Anderson
    Reply
Color Correction Techniques
Final Cut Pro X 107
Dream It. Do It.
Do you want to learn Color Correction Techniques?
Yes, I want to learn!
No Thanks, I just want to read the article.
Feedback
Course Advisor
Don't Know Where To Start?
Ask A Course Advisor
Ask Us!
Copy the link below and paste it into an email, forum, or Facebook to share this with your friends.
Make money when you share our links
Become a macProVideo.com Affiliate!
The current affiliate rate is: 50%
Classes Start Next Week!
Live 8-week Online Certification Classes for: