Project Yellow Light


Let me start this by saying yay, finally graduated!!!! All done with SCAD, and on to the real world. Well, not immediately, but soon!

Anyways, for a number of reasons including flexing my keying muscles and being a crazy person, I decided to take on compositing for a short safe driving ad. Initially, I wanted to just pick up a few shots, but with the deadline creeping closer the crew was beginning to panic. So I did all of it. On account of me being a crazy person.

So, I’m writing here today to chronicle the challenges I faced in these 15 shots, and how I fixed and overcame them to make a final product I’m pretty satisfied with! (Especially for my first time compositing car scenes.)

The first challenge I faced, and the biggest hurdle of the compositor that tried before me, was the noise. this footage was NOISY! Generally with any key I like to de-noise because it makes me life easier, but I just wanted to show what I was working with.

So, with this first hurdle down and some much nicer edges happening, then comes the second biggest issue with the majority of these shots- the greenscreen itself. As you can see in the above images, it doesn’t cover all of the background, and is littered in shadows and uneven lighting. Not to knock the production team of course, they’re all still learning and this was their very first time shooting on a greenscreen stage like this! But it made for an extra step or two for me.

Process-wise, for the majority of these shots, I was able to simply roto out the offending lines since the camera is not moving. It’s kind of a really jenk way to go about that, but in the timeframe it worked! I just placed in the roto with my core matte so that the pure solid colors would be added together before mixing in the edge details.

For some shots, I used the IBK node to generate a cleaner plate I could use to subtract from the original image, and that also worked fine! I just had to essentially blur and grow the screen to fill in the gaps and even out the shadows. Here’s a few images of that process.

it’s not perfect, but it got some decent edges! (Although I’m noticing now an error on the maraca. Whoops!) I had a great time using primatte on these, since I had the ability to go back and manually clean up noise in the foreground and background. Great keyer!!

I also did all my despills in keylight since I like the simplicity of it better. I then shuffle-copied in the alpha to give me total control of the alpha separately from the despill. I have no idea if this is standard practice, but it makes sense to me to divide those aspects up and edit them separately as not every keyer has a great despill built in! Plus, working with Primatte, denoising tended to push the despill too far into the magenta range and it looked pretty grody.

Here’s a look at what one of my standard scripts for this project looked like.


So essentially, that’s how I go about keying! I used that standard script for about 12 or 13 of these shots, of course with minor adjustments based on the needs of the footage. But for those remaining shots…..well, there’s always outliers.

Let’s get into probably the most challenging of these shots! Still not the hardest shot in the world since this is a pretty small scale project, but one that stood out and made me want to talk about it nonetheless!


So not only in this shot did I have to be careful not to crunch the edges on her rollers (some of the greenscreen is visible through the center of the hair rollers), but some of those edges didn’t even have greenscreen behind them! Here’s a cropped version of the original plate to show what I mean.


So, that’s a bit problematic. But, no fear! There’s still some awesome contrast there from her side-lit baby hairs and that deep dark hole in the green backdrop. All it took was a little patience, a dash of creative shuffling, and a smidge of key mixing to pull a decent edge on that. It’s not perfect, but here’s the final matte.

All in all, this was a great project and a great learning experience! I’m happy to have had the opportunity to add some more keying to my demo reel and put into practice everything I’ve learned on other films.