taking one frame at a time since 1999

I recently began working on a project that required green screening a puppet, using my new Mac computer and my newly acquired issue of Dragonframe 4. I ran into trouble trying to get the color I wanted to key out.

I got direct help from one of the guys at Dragonframe to show me how to do it and I was enormously grateful for the live assistance. He hooked into my computer and set the key settings for me and all was good. But on the very next shot, I encountered the same problem.

Knowing it was something I was doing wrong and that the software would in fact do it, l pressed on trying to figure out what the problem could possibly be...

SPEED, that's the issue. For some reason, the eyedropper tool requires you to pick the color you want to extract from the shot very rapidly. I got it to work after recalling what I saw the guy  from Dragonframe (Dyami) doing on my screen when we linked out two computers together. I did all the same step he did but he did them much faster than I did. So I tried doing it very quickly... and it finally worked!

So if you're out there ripping your hair out with the same problem, the solution is this - tap the eyedropper tool and then quickly tap on the color in the scene you want to remove immediately. Don't wait a heartbeat or Dragonframe will forget what you're trying to do.

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Oh wow. I just keep learning from this site. I didn't even realise that you could do keying inside Dragonframe! Where do you find the buttons to do it? 


The keying in Dragonframe is for LIVE shooting only. it's a surprisingly good tool while your animating but it's no substitute for your final product. You'll need to do additional keying in other software specifically for special effects to get it to look great.

All you need to do is hover over the upper left corner of your animation screen and the box for tools will open up. One of your options there will be a the layers and keying window.

I had to use the keyer in DF to match some of my shots to the Dark Earth live action as well.  I had to line up the creature with the actor and have it react when the actor whacked it, and that is what the DF keyer is for.  It is only the live view of the video the is keyed, and only while you are working with it in DF.  It has no effect on the final images.  The saved images still come up with the green screen behind the puppet, for you to key out in After Effects or other post production software.  

The keyer is one of several tools that comes up in a window in the upper right of the picture are when you are in the animation window.  You have to mouse over it for it to become visible.

I tried to screen capture it, but as soon as I pressed the command-shift-4 keys to capture part of the screen, the window disappeared!  So here is where it would be, just under the Ready To Capture in the upper right corner.  Click on the icon of a key to select the keyer. Another useful tool there is the pencil to draw on the screen, if you need to mark a position. 

Thanks both. I use the pencil all the time, but haven't explored all the tools. The key looks to be really handy. I did a couple of passes on a shot recently with a little green screen  inserted to cover a section. This would help a lot.

Onwards and upwards!

This is a shot of my hand in a shot I was working on. There was a green card on the set that matched the contour of the door, so that's why it looks like I have a giant hand going through it.  The smaller player on top of the screen is a reference movie that had a live action version of what I needed to animate. It's so cool that Dragonframe allows you to have multiple layers of movies, including pop-out player for reference movies that all play simultaneously.

Here's the panel, I remembered I have an app that will capture a timed screenshot.

Ooh, fancy!  You must have a later edition of Dragonframe.  Mine  (DF 3.6.3)has a smaller and simpler window. Organised a bit differently too, now it seems to have the keying within the layers section.   I must look at the current version!

Here, I took photos of the screen with my phone camera.  First shot is the window that comes up first, second one is what you get when you select the key window.

I said upper right of screen before, but obviously  it is the upper left, brain not engaged.

The chroma-key window:

Yep that was the last version. I had to upgrade to the latest version because I couldn't get the old Dragonframe to run on my new Mac. Dragonframe 4 has many more tools than I will probably ever use but the stuff I do ordinarily use  are all much better now.

The keying window allows you to apply multiple layers of images as well as use a pop-out player for reference video.

My camera has a cropped live feed and with the old Dragonframe, I used to have to compensate for that in my cropping before I started shooting but the new Dragonframe has that adjustment built in. :)

This is great. Thanks so much to both of you for this. I fall into the mistake of just using the tools I am familiar with, so have never (yet) got round to playing with the whole toolkit.

Here's a couple of frames from the shot. I did the foreground figures going past first, with the little green screen inserted, then shot the background orphan on a second pass. I had a lot of issues with shadows and needed about 9 masks to cope with it The green screen cast a shadow onto the wood and barrels on the R, so there was a lot of fiddling to get it OK. Fortunately there's falling snow to distract!

Looks great! One thing that people need to remember is that the color you're keying out doesn't need to be green, it can be any color under the rainbow. It just needs to be a color that is very different from the colors you want to keep. So for this shot, blue might be a better option because if there's some blue reflected by the snow, you won't necessarily need to remove it 100%. Blue is a color you might expect to be in the snow but it's very different from the colors of your subject which is mostly browns and greys.

People have adopted the terms "green screening" and "blue screening" and think that those colors are mandatory, but they're not. It has to do with the history of keying... in the past, blue was the first color that allowed for compositing on chemical film and that was because there was one particular shade of blue that showed up as clear on the negative of the chemical film. So back in 1975 when they were making the original Star Wars film, that blue color was the rule.

Then came video compositing and on video the color green was picked because that one particular color was chosen to always show up as 'alpha' (clear) in video transmission so it could be replaced by another image.

But in today's world all those old rules no longer apply, we just keep repeating the old terms "green screen" and "blue screen" out of habit even though any color can be used. You could use purple or yellow or whatever, you just need to think about the colors you need to keep and what reflections might appear on your puppet or set and if a little bit of that color might look okay if you left it in... use that.  :)

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