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footage and high-quality chromakeying are usually said to be incompatible,
so how seriously should we take Serious Magic's claim that its Ultra
software produces excellent chromakey effects from DV source video?
Our curiosity was
roused by Serious Magic's claims that its Ultra software for Windows
offers an incredibly easy way to achieve professional chromakey results
using DV footage - the more so since we're normally highly dubious of
statements that promise ease of use, especially from products with magic
in their names.
In truth, we felt we just had to investigate, given that the words DV
and pro-quality chromakey don't usually appear together in the same
sentence. Many of us have attempted chromakey work on DV footage using
our favourite video editor's built-in chroma function. While some NLEs
perform chromakeying better than others, we've often had to settle for
a mediocre key with the familiar stair-stepping effect along edges.
Higher-end keyers, such as The Foundry's Keylight (included with Adobe
After Effects Pro 6.5), provide excellent keys, but involve a steep
learning curve to master - and aren't cheap either, though After Effects
itself is more affordable today than ever before.
Ultra is probably the most efficient, effective, and easiest to use
chromakeyer in its class. The performance of real-time previews while
making adjustments, plus Ultra's fast rendering times and ability to
use a live DV camera input to set up keys, make the program almost irresistible
- though bringing the UK price into line with that in the USA (where
it's £160 cheaper) could be the clincher.
Although we'd greatly prefer to see more realistic sets added to the
master set library, the included sets do provide impressive camera tracking
and pan controls. Anyone doing DV chromakeying will be pleased with
the ease of use and clean keys possible with Ultra.
Reviewed in this issue:
Red Giant Magic Bullet Editors
Serious Magic DV Rack
Serious Magic Ultra
In December's news:
Ulead CD & DVD PictureShow