Quantel Keyer – Primatte: How a chromakeyer has evolved.
Primatte was developed by Yaz Mishima, an engineer at IMAGICA Corp in Japan, about 15 years ago. He came up with a unique concept whereby a 3D color cube could be used to separate the various colors in a foreground image and a matte could be created to isolate the foreground object or objects.
It basically involves creating three concentric multi-faceted polyhedrons in 3D RGB colorspace that share the same center point. By doing this, all the colors in the foreground image then fall into one of four categories; 100% backing screen, 100% foreground object, 100% foreground object with spill suppression and all the transition color regions (edges on the foreground object, transparent areas, smoke, water, etc.) also with spill suppression. It was a brilliant concept and while the algorithm was fairly complicated, the human interface could be simplified to something that almost every compositing artist would find intuitive.
Instead of an interface full of complicated sliders that seem to affect the entire image instead of just the region of interest, Primatte allowed the user to just click on the areas on the image that they wanted to modify. This unique ability allowed Primatte to span the gap between the left-brained and right-brained worlds and let artists control what was a very sophisticated algorithm.
Quantel saw all this, felt that Primatte would be a great tool for their generation Q product line, and contacted VDS, who had great experience implementing Quantel plug-ins. The fifth version of Primatte for Quantel has just been released by VDS and contains 15 years of continued development resulting in what may be one of the best chromakeyers on the market with the ‘easiest to use’ interface. Many of the prior releases of Primatte focused on improving the interface, decreasing up the rendering time, and trying to find a way to speed up the keying procedure. Primatte V instead focused on fine-tuning the ability to have a good one or two-click procedure to pulling a great key.
The previous version of Primatte had a new feature called ‘Auto-Compute’ that tried to automatically determine the backing screen color, key it out and eliminate noise in the backing screen area and transparent areas in the foreground object. For many cases, it worked fine, but when there was a very small area of backing screen or when the foreground object had a lot of pink or cyan in it for a blue screen or flesh tones against green screens, Auto-Compute had some problems.
Primatte V used some unique algorithms, including histogram analysis, to solve these problems. We had many sample images and clips that we had gathered over the years that users claimed were ‘nightmare situations’ for chromakeyers. Primatte 4 was able to handle maybe 60% of these ‘trouble images’. Primatte V has the ability to take care on almost all of these situations with a single click on the Auto-Compute button. That’s not to say the keying process is complete after doing that, some spill removal might still be necessary depending on the lighting and other factors but the response from users has been very positive - things like “the easiest keyer in the world just got a whole lot easier.”
When Nothing Real was starting to develop SHAKE, they asked if Primatte could be the bundled keyer. When Digital Domain was getting NUKE ready for the general market, they asked if they could bundle Primatte as the main keyer and now eyeon has asked to bundle Primatte with Fusion. It has been nominated for an Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Excellence and has become an industry standard used on almost every major motion picture, television show, music video and is even finding a home in the professional photography market.
To get more details on the Primatte V release, check out this short 13-minute video explaining how the new features work.
Primatte is available for these fine Quantel products – iQ, eQ, Pablo and Paintbox.
To give it a try at your facility, contact Quantel or VDS and try it out on some of your own ‘nightmare clips’. You’ll be pleasantly surprised!