I have to admit, I was a skeptic when I first opened the box. In the box were a grey cloth, a ring of green LED lights and a control box for the LED lights.
“What’s the big deal?” I was thinking as I was unpacking the box and temporarily setting it up in my classroom. I threw the cloth over a portable white board, plugged in the LiteRing, turned the knob and WHOA! This is cool! It really works! Not that I had any doubt it would, but not this good.
So now I needed a real test. I called up my fellow Video Production Teacher at Hahnville High School, Robert Riddick, and tried to describe how cool this system was over the phone. I think he could sense how amazed I was with the system. So he said bring it on over so we could compare it to his regular green screen. I was on my way!
I wouldn’t call our test very scientific, but it was real-world. We just hung the Chromatte Cloth up in his studio with only one light facing our test subject and the regular room lights on. We even left the camera in auto-iris to make it even tougher on the ReflecMedia System to pull a good key. We also did not pull the cloth completely tight to add another “wrinkle” to our test.
If you look at the two videos that are linked at the bottom of this article you will see one video straight out of the camera. The only thing that was added was a timecode burn-in. The second video is the same video with a “Spectramatte” key effect dropped on the video in Avid Media Composer 6. I made no other adjustments other than the eyedropper telling the effect which color to key.
I think the results look very good considering the conditions we threw at it. If our test subject were standing in front of a green screen under the same lighting conditions, the key would have been unusable.
So, how does it work? According to ReflecMedia, the “key” to the key is the Chromatte cloth. The Chromatte fabric feels like very fine sand paper and is covered with millions of reflective beads that enable the cloth to be used at acute angles from the camera lens. In other words, it only reflects light directly back to the source. If you stand just off to the side you only see a grey cloth, but get right next to the camera and you see green. Unbelievable!
I am sure we would have had even better results if we would have taken the time to properly set up the camera and the lighting. But my goal was to be a real-world test in the education environment, meaning, how would a bunch of students set this thing up.
The only limitation I would see is if your studio was based around a multi-cam setup using virtual sets and a NewTek Tricaster. Then, you would need a LiteRing for each camera and one cloth large enough for all of your talent. I would love to see the Chromatte system used in conjunction with a Tricaster. I’m sure it would be stunning.
I could see this system being at home in the studio and out in the field where you would need a quick green screen setup. I could also see the system being very effective in still photography as well as in video production. I would recommend this system to anyone considering purchasing a green screen system and it’s definitely on my wish list.
For more information on the ReflecMedia System go to: http://www.reflecmedia.com/
Albert Dupont has been the Advanced TV Broadcasting Facilitator (Teacher) at the Satellite Center in Luling, Louisiana since its opening in 2005. The Satellite Center is a “satellite” facility of Hahnville and Destrehan High Schools. The schools are a part of the St. Charles Parish Public School System located near New Orleans.
Before becoming a teacher, Mr. Dupont was a news and sports videographer for WVUE-TV in New Orleans for twelve years and news producer at WAFB in Baton Rouge and KATC in Lafayette for five years. As a sports photographer, Mr. Dupont was a field videographer at the New Orleans Saints games from 1994 to 2009. He also was a videographer at two Superbowls and numerous college national championship games in a variety of sports. He is an Avid Certified Instructor in Media Composer 5.