Pulling the Perfect Key in After Effects with Key Cleaner & Advanced Spill Suppressor
Over the past two weeks, we've been sharing tutorials for the new features that were introduced in the recent major update to Adobe's Creative Cloud video applications. First we took a look at Live Text Templates, which allow for complex text compositions from After Effects to be manipulated inside of Premiere. Then we took a look at the new features in SpeedGrade 2014, including stronger linking with Premiere and a host of new usability features. After Effects also received several new features in this most recent update, including two new effects which should make the keying process much faster and more accurate.
Keying is often a difficult task for low-budget filmmakers for several different reasons. First is the fact that lighting a green screen properly and lighting the subject for maximum separation is no easy task. Add to that the fact that cheaper cameras tend to heavily compress images, which makes the keying process and nightmare.
In this update to After Effects, Adobe introduced two new effects called Key Cleaner and Advanced Spill Suppressor, which should alleviate many of the problems that people run into when pulling a key. Here are a few tutorials from Adobe TV to get you started with these new effects.
And here's a more in-depth breakdown of the Key Cleaner and Advanced Spill Suppression effects.
In a sense, these two new effects are miracle workers for heavily compressed footage. In the past, you would have to be crazy or lacking other options to shoot green screens with a DSLR because the 8-bit h.264 compression creates nasty banding and blocky edges that make the keying process a major headache. From the looks of it, the Key Cleaner effect, with its temporal smoothing algorithms, can get rid of a vast majority of unwanted compression noise around the edges of the matte with a few clicks.
Once the Key Cleaner does its thing and cleans up the edges of your key, the Advanced Spill Suppressor can do its magic. Like the Key Cleaner, Advanced Spill Suppressor is a simple effect in that it needs very little manipulation in order to provide great results. However, if you need to do any detailed spill suppression, the effect's "Ultra Mode," which borrows technology from the Premiere Pro Ultra Keyer, can clean it up with very little effort.
Ultimately, keying is faster and more accurate in this version of After Effects, especially when you use the animation preset which contains Keylight, Key Cleaner, and Advanced Spill Suppressor.
Let's hear your thoughts about the Key Cleaner and Advanced Spill Suppressor effects down in the comments!