Compression Session:

Sorenson Squeeze 5
& Primatte Keyer 4
June 2008

by PF Bentley

I'm writing this from Ventura, Calif., where in 48 hours, the 25th Platypus Workshop will commence and I'll be brain dead in a few days. But before that happens, this month we get back to the world of compression and enter the world of green – green screen that is.

Sorenson Squeeze has been a staple of video compression for many years and with their newest update they really raised the bar. Some of the improvements that Squeeze 5 brings are more control over output with color and contrast filters, the ability to watermark easily and quickly using any PNG file along with taking any 1920x1080 material with no problem.

In my own tests against Episode Pro, Squeeze won in quality, ease of operation, the ability to take 1080 material without bugs or crashes, and a watermark that works. Episode did encode faster and can put running timecode on output. I contacted Sorenson and they told me that they are working on both the speed issue and timecode –so stay tuned for future updates from them.

We at Reason.TV have made Squeeze our compression program of choice and it's made our encoding much more enjoyable (if encoding can be enjoyable!) by using custom presets I made for our bureaus to use. One feature I liked is to be able to apply a default filter to any project – this includes the Reason.TV watermark/bug on every job. Simple but effective.

I look forward to the next update.

Recently I needed to make some production improvements to the Web documentaries produced at Reason.TV. These shows are hosted by Drew Carey, whose time is limited these days by his day job hosting "The Price is Right." It got harder for Drew to find the time to go on location with us, so we thought of bringing the location to him by the use of green screen technology and having him host the shows in a green screen studio in Burbank. (Many thanks to Kystal and Chris at Big Vision Studios for all their help.)

I had never done green screen work, but took a workshop at NAB and learned all I could. You can use the Keying filters in FCP, but a much better product is Primatte Keyer 4 by Red Giant Software. It makes popping the key simple and effective and as close to one button removal as you can get. (I'm a big fan of the EASY button idea on any program!) Once installed Primatte Keyer is accessed under Effects>Video Filters.

After the main area of green is eliminated you can touch up any areas that are still green through some easy steps. It takes a little experience to get it right, but within a day I was doing fairly well.

Green screen is a powerful tool – so use with caution!

Here's a before and after from one of the first tests:

That's it for now. Next month: Audio by Color – what?

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© PF Bentley

PF Bentley is an Apple Certified Pro and lead Final Cut Instructor at the Platypus Workshops. PF is also Senior Producer and Director of Photography for Reason.TV