View Full Version : How I made the Tricaster (not pro) do virtual sets.

07-21-2010, 01:12 PM
Hi all,
I'm writing here to brag, and perhaps offer help to those who need it.
I have used AUTOIT (freeware always baby) to use the Chromakeyer LIVE.
Even though there isn't a stupid shortcut on the keyboard.
Not sure why Newtek wouldn't just do that. But as a year long user, I won't pretend to know why they would make the keyer useless by not allowing you to turn it off using a keypress (instead 3 separate mouse movements).
My first show with it is on Thursday.
I use auto it to turn off livematte at lightning speed while going to DDR.
As my DDR runs out, I press another key to turn on livematte to set the preview image and switch to the camera.
I expect to be able to use 3 separate backgrounds, which I've developed using a scale studio in Blender, approximating camera and light angles for realism. This week I am using a single 'Live set' or keyed background. Infinitely better than our black background of yore. which you can see here: www.vctv.ca/videos.php
I will post or first show, for good or for ill by Friday.
Anybody have any tips?

07-21-2010, 02:05 PM
Anybody have any tips?Yeah, I do. It's not a bad idea to have a keystroke command to toggle LiveMatte on and off. You should submit it as a feature request (in the appropriate forum). :)

I don't really agree the keyer is "useless" without this, though. I don't remember seeing any prior requests for this (there has been a related TCXD feature request, though), despite the fact that many thousands of people have been using TriCaster for quite a few years. That said, most current TriCaster models allow independent LiveMatte settings per input, which makes life considerably simpler. I really hope to see this limitation on the "< Pro" models disappear in time.

(BTW, what you're doing isn't really what we would refer to as a "virtual set" - it's just a standard keyer effect. Virtual sets are more elaborate, although I know a few other developers do also refer to simple keying as a 'virtual set' effect ... rather deceptively, I personally think. Nice use of TriCaster for the community, though - kudos!)

07-21-2010, 03:37 PM
Right, it's not really a virtual set. But just everyone wait until I get the other two camera angles lined up with the right graphics. It's gonna be hot.
I'll put in that feature request pronto.
Regards, Andru

07-26-2010, 04:55 PM
Here's my 'Live Matte' Set: in action. LiveMatte Non Virtual Set (http://www.vctv.ca/videos.php)
Very cool, no?
This week I'm going to attempt an actual virtual set using multiple camera angles. Of course, scaling down the image with a single camera won't work, but there is a lot of other stuff that will.
It strikes me that I could do this better in toaster script if the function to turn on and off LiveMatte was revealed. Is it something I can trigger in ToasterScript? Can anyone tell me how I would do it?
I look forward to your help and continued enthusiasm. It's pretty clear now that this is not a replacement for the actual live sets as sold with the tricaster studios bigger brothers, but it could be a lot of fun for small time low budget hacks like VCTV. Especially if anyone has experience in lightwave or blender.
Loving the tricaster and toasterscript. It's a great institution and my station would be stuck in the dark ages without it.

07-26-2010, 07:47 PM
Valemount is beautiful.

07-28-2010, 10:26 AM
Valemount is quite pretty in the summer, though every year an evil wizard turns it to ice for six months.

07-29-2010, 11:47 PM
Okay, tricaster freaks. Watch what I made this baby do! Just disregard the complete screw up at the beginning of the show, it's community television, we're over it.
Tricaster on Nitrous Oxide (http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=331D3F02BEA97F0A)
I only used the wide shot a couple times because I've got a bit to fix under the desk. I essentially need a different desk.
There's lots to improve. It takes an awfully long time to switch from camera to camera. If I had access to turning the livematte on and off in toaster script I could do this a lot faster. Instead my script has to navigate the GUI and wait for it to react. Very very highlevel stuff like mouse movements that requires a bunch of processor time and many windows redraws. I also have to actually check pixel color values to ensure that the garbage matte is on for camera 2.
If you're a pro at tricaster scripting or even VT script I have a favour to ask. Is there a way to turn livematte on and off programmatically? If it hasn't been invented yet could you invent it for me and expose it in toaster script?
Artists, I know my backgrounds are kind of lame, but I may decide to do video backgrounds first (that's a lot of work) and I'm thinking of doing a false front desk using the title keyer.
I'm wondering if it is possible to go half way through a size changing transition and green screen that with a custom garbage matte and huge set.
I may also stick a camera at the far corner of the room and use it sparingly.
Ideas? comments? Concerns? suggestions? praise? criticism?

08-04-2010, 01:38 PM
AutoIt is GREAT!
The blues guitar girl was FANTASTIC!

I need to get her introduced to my son :heart:

I've been by Valemount...sort of... I use to go up 97 to Prince George, turn left and take 16 out to Prince Rupert... then catch a ferry to Ketchikan.

08-04-2010, 05:05 PM
Ideas? comments? Concerns? suggestions? praise? criticism?

The desk is too glossy and is reflecting the green screen. This also shows up with the jaggies on the edge in the med shot (the green reflection shows up a lot in the wide shot).
Since this is just a background image, I would lose the video monitor. Having a static image of the stations logo just sit there does not look good. I do like the station logo on the back wall so maybe add some detail to the rest of the wall to not be empty if you remove the monitor.
Why does she have a computer keyboard on the desk with no computer monitor? I would lose the keyboard.
I would use a different camera angle for the med shot. One from the right showing the station logo on the back wall.
Also, not a big deal but being picky, use a stand-in object of a person in your 3D program to help setup your camera angles. They don't seem right from wide to med. Use this as a pre-viz but in reverse meaning, match the 3D world to the real camera shots and move the set pieces to match the desired look.
The desk does not work at all if you are trying to give it a news style look. To get that look using a Overlay is going to hard to say the least. Why not just have her standing or on a nice high chair?

The content, host and dialog is pretty good but the desk and the stuff on it, make the set look cheesy. Just removing the whole desk and having her stand or sit on a nice high chair would make it look better (even doing nothing to the background image). A lot of time, less is more and I do feel this is the case in your set right now.

I'm rooting for you to figure out some of the TriCaster items you mentioned and I commend you for trying to do much more than it was intended with the TriCaster.

EDIT:Wait, Is the keyboard being used as the teleprompter move up device? If so, purchase a very inexpensive power point type wireless remote. It would fit in her hand and no one would know it.

Take care,

08-05-2010, 03:25 PM
Dr. Burgos you are a master.
I forgot for a moment how real criticism (constructive) also hurts. But damn it, it's true. Yes a power point device will be ordered, you are totally correct about the keyboard. Great Idea. the keyboard has been identified by a cult following as totally cool, but trying to look more legit will only increase the possibilities of our pretend news gambit.
Even though I've measure out the real floor and 3d space, lighting is an issue. the lights I have on set cannot light the giant 3d elements in my background scene. Realism is difficult here. How can 3 lights light up the talent and a giant 9 foot background logo? I positioned the light on the monitor so as to make a shadow on the background to try to ground the image some how. Arhgg.
The sign for channel 7 is not really supposed to be a monitor, I think I can fix this.
Reflective desk is a huge concern.
Notice the earrings? or rather shadows of earings.

08-05-2010, 05:51 PM
The sign looks like a curved monitor which would have been OK if you owned a TC that could do LiveSet and it was a monitor. If it's not, lose it as it is just repeating the logo on the wall. Better to use the logo that is on the wall in the med shot and have only some of the middle of the logo in the background while the host is framed. Since the wide shot establishes the logo, the illusion is perfectly executed when you go to the med shot as everyone watching will believe the set is real.
When you re-render your background, just add a spotlight to the part of the floor where the host is. This again sells the illusion of the back wall being in the virtual shadows but everything in the center is lit. This will also play well with the host standing or sitting on a high directors type chair (which is also inexpensive).
One last thing, if you add a closeup shot, take the same logo portion of the back wall that I am suggesting for the med as the background, and zoom in some more to render the closeup and then use a focus (not a blur) plug-in to defocus the image. This well sell the illusion of the closeup and make for a slick set (I also do this often for my clients).
In closing, IMHO, if you change the med shot and add a closeup shot but use the left side of the set as the backdrop, lose the object hanging from the ceiling that I am calling a monitor, render in a spot light on the center of the floor, use a wireless power point remote, pick up cheap lights to light the green screen and finally have the host stand or sit on a high chair and you have a nice dramatic looking set with great use of shadows and lights with a nice pastel color palette you already are using.
Attached is parts from a stock TC Liveset with changes made by me in a lot of places with some procedural textures as well. The whole set only has one black and one white color yet it is dramatic due to the extra detail I added to the models and the use of lights (notice the spot lights on the floor).

PS Cheap construction work lights (the kind that have feet and sit on the floor) that can be purchased at a home improvement store work great to light a green screen on a budget and it's what I use :)

Good luck,

08-12-2010, 02:13 AM
Thanks for your considerable input. If you have any doubt it's being taken seriously check back here after I post tomorrows live show (goes up friday afternoon).
I completely rejigged the studio. It's slightly scary. No pain no gain.
The desk is stowed, a shotgun mic will be used, stools are being borrowed. I spent a few hours turning a mouse into a teleprompt controller (That was a waste of time, but it takes a week to get items shipped here and we have millions of mice lying around) A new background is being rendered, and about a thousand other things that happen everytime I get inspired.
Anyways, I hadn't responded yet, and thought karmatically I should.
I haven't got a green floor, so I'm using canvas on the floor to make a nice distinction between backdrop etc. It looks different... but I'm sure after a few goes, we'll be able to make it our own and get comfortable with it.
I look forward to subsequent feedback from you and everyone. Though this first go through will likely be a madhouse, it's great to have input from people with talent and experience.

08-12-2010, 05:53 AM
I look forward to it.
FYI: Be careful with a shotgun mic. I prefer a lapel clip on mic because of echo that could be introduced in the studio (the host can speak softer with a lapel mic reducing sound bounces). Not knowing if you have a broadcast studio or a room you guys have equipped with cameras and green screen so pardon if I state the obvious. If you have done so already, capture the host speaking and listen carefully for echo/hallow sound. If you have not done so already, Hang thick quilts (guerrilla video stuff) of the wall opposite the hose (behind the camera). They soak up sound very well and cost much less than pro sound foam tiles. Record and listen a few times to make sure there is no echo. Viewers will be listening at different volumes and the worst thing you could have (well one of the worst) is for it to sound like the host is a closet.

Good luck,

08-16-2010, 03:20 PM
Let the heads roll.
The new footage is up, and it's only missing a giant gong.
Jose, my father would be jealous of you, I listened to you.
Everybody, let's hear your feedback.
One viewer said, "The high chairs were 'Grating'"
The content was also a bit grating.
Exciting results but lots to work on.

Some last minute changes mean that the backdrop looks like it's going to fall on the group. The chair height. Perhaps I should have looked at them prior to the show. (arrived 30 minutes before)
I did the final output of the backdrop images some 45 minutes before the show started and had about 10 minutes to do it.
I am going to add in a subtle vertical component in order help the viewer see the 3d ness ( pillars) and I am going to add a real life flood to whiten up our greenish floor.
Script, lights, cameras, batteries, missing technician, audio.
What do you make of the audio? Isn't it quite clear? It's with a shotgun fairly close to the talent (3-4 feet thanks to the garbage matte.)
This week we'll do it standing.
I notice we recieved about as many hits from Newtek as from all are other viewers... So everybody, please feel free to provide comments, criticism, praise, feedback, charming witticisms, wagging fingers...
Next week will be better.
Jose, thank you. I was in a rut, and I'm out of it. Now, I'm desperately looking for a new rut to be safe in.
Hey there, sbrandt if you come by town, please drop by. I have to agree that AutoIt is GREAT!... but slow....

08-16-2010, 06:59 PM
Looks a lot better. The way they are sitting on angles from the chair, toed in to each other, is a good position for them but the chairs not being in the same position, just does not look right to me. May just be me :)
Keep on fine tunning as your hard work is paying off Andru.

PS The chairs don't look so high :)

08-20-2010, 02:41 PM
I used some transparent materials in Blender to hold the VCTV logo in place (http://www.vctv.ca/videos.php) and provide some interesting texture. I used the table again, despite it's greeny hue because we were really short on time.

Although I have figured out how to use DDRs in the background, the whole issue of cueing up the next DDR becomes very complicated. To my knowledge, apart from looking for blue pixels in the ddr cue, there is no way of learning which clip is currently cued up. If there is a toaster script master out there who can do some of this stuff (like turn on and off the tricaster's live matte and preload a defined garbage matte) that would be awesome.
I am developing a method to keep track of the DDRs internally, but it's complex, I may intercept mousemovements in that quadrant of the screen to try and determine what the user wants.
It's wierd to be building a whole new user interface logic on top of the tricaster tools, but I think that's what it takes in order to use LiveMatte or Chromakey for live television production.
Unfortunately, things get really complex, I doubt anyone without scripting experience would be able to use my script successfully.
What a great and powerful tool the tricaster studio is.
Next week I hope to use video backgrounds. I have refined the code to switch faster, with less longish black periods. Rather than checking if the Garbage matte and livematte are on each time I keep track with global variables.
I hope newtek sees this as a good development.
Using similar methods it could be possible to switch six cameras just by toggling the inputs programmatically. I don't have six cameras with white balance, so that project is definitely going to wait.
This weeks episode is an anniversary special... it's been one year since we put our tricaster to work and started Valemount LIVE!. The Tricaster is just a piece of gear, but we would have had a hard time doing this with out it, or with a simple video switcher. Thanks newtek!

08-22-2010, 02:36 PM
Can't view video, get "An error occurred, please try again later" in the Flash video window.

08-23-2010, 02:36 PM
It's working now. Not sure what's up with youtube, lot's of problems. (Like playlist doesn't advance automatically on the channel page!?)

08-29-2010, 09:46 PM
So basically you have Autoit running and once you decide to turn on LiveMatte you hit a key on the keyboard that has been scripted with autoit to toggle LiveMatte on and off? Here is what I am trying to do. I have two external inputs, one LiveTExt and one ivga. I would like to be able to have a key or macro setup to where I can press a key and be able to switch the external inputs and to complicate things also turn on livematte when switching to the ivga input. It sounds like you may have part of the solution. Can you offer any help?

09-01-2010, 11:19 AM
I'm in a time crunch right now, but I would love to help.
What your asking for is simple, but you will pay a small performance penalty. On your way to switching the live matte on, you must (pretty much must) switch the tricaster through black.
So here would be a good way.
Assign a key to do these actions:
1 go to black
2 Select the right preview (which will be your foreground)
3 Turn livematte on using a script (tell Autoit where to move the mouse and how many times to click, and wait for the gui to respond) The switch is a toggle, so if you are in a live environment, you made need to implement some more script to make sure you don't turn it off, by pressing that button twice. Use a global variable to keep track.
4 use a mouse script to select the correct external output (could be a bit trickier with that kind of menu, but doable).
5 send F7 key to show the external output.

Assign another key to do the same thing but select the livetext.

I haven't worked with live text, so I don't know how it works at all. Hopefully it shows up on the menu nicely.

PS all of this is based on the Studio model, better versions can probably do this no problem.

09-02-2010, 08:17 PM
Macro Panel...............by youngmonkey. 425 remote functions to control. map countless sequences together

09-02-2010, 08:23 PM
Macrowhat by who?