Reprinted from a Serious Magic press release:

Serious Magic, Inc. today announced the availability of Ultra Key, its new standalone PC software that makes professional chroma keying and virtual sets significantly easier and more practical for studio and in-the-field video productions. Ultra Key produces broadcast-quality composites from less-than-ideal keying environments and is optimized to deliver superb results from the limited color bandwidth of today’s DV-format video sources. Beyond its chroma keying advantages, Ultra Key provides an entire library of virtual sets as well as sophisticated virtual camera-move effects that were previously only possible by using specialized motion tracking hardware costing thousands of dollars.

Ultra Key is based on several technological advances, such as a new Vector Keying algorithm that compensates for deficient chroma keying conditions, such as uneven lighting, wrinkled backgrounds and frizzy hair. Ultra Key’s VirtualTrak engine also enables users to add virtual camera moves from stationary camera shots in perfect sync with their keyed backgrounds and inserts accurate video reflections into virtual scenes. Other features include real-time preview of keying, color correction, scaling and positioning to eliminate time consuming trial-and-error rendering.

“Ultra Key essentially puts the power of multiple production tools into a single stand-alone product that dramatically speeds up workflow and offers new capabilities for everyday projects,” says Mark Randall, President & CEO of Serious Magic. “But it also opens the door for the large majority of video producers who previously found chroma keying and virtual sets to be too expensive, complex and impractical, such as those who use DV-format cameras and don’t have expensive studio set ups.”

Ultra Key’s virtual set library includes 15 professional sets, ranging from cutting-edge newsroom studios and corporate environments to wedding and contemporary settings. Most of the sets also include animations, multiple angles for wide, tight, medium and alternate views, and the ability to easily insert additional video or graphic sources within the scene.

Advanced chroma key controls, such as spill suppression, color restoration and edge softening can also be applied to fine-tune composites, enabling complex keys such as smoke, glass and liquids with minimal effort. Ultra Key also works on laptops so you can connect your DV camera and preview keyed output in real time.

Ultra Key is designed for standard PCs running Windows 2000 or Windows XP, and is compatible with virtually any video editing software that reads and writes standard AVI or DV file formats, from Avid to Adobe Premiere. Standard graphics or video clips can be used for the background and a foreground layer with an alpha channel can also be added to the composite. Output files can be saved as an uncompressed AVI, DV or 32-bit AVIs with alpha channel.

Ultra Key is available now for $795 from Serious Magic’s online store and many professional video resellers. For more information, please visit www.seriousmagic.com.

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