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Review: Reflecmedia ChromaFlex for Easy Keying

An in-depth look at a portable Reflecmedia chromakey kit that combines a retro-reflective screen with a green-blue ringlight for versatile, quick-and-easy, reliable greenscreen setup and keying.

Testing the ChromaFlex Kit

I took my 7-foot ChromaFlex to a local studio that already had a wall painted green, and a separate green fabric set up on stands and pulled tight. They have a bank of lights set up permanently to provide even illumination of the backdrop that is needed to get a good key. These lights are set up on a lighting grid. I do not know how long it took to set up the backdrop, get it flat, pull it tight, build the grid, set up and power all the lights, and get them in the right places so there are no hot spots in the green screen.

But I imagine it took much longer than the setup process I’m about to describe.

I brought in my ChromaFlex and, with just the overhead lights on in the room, I popped it open and rested it against the wall. I turned on the green LEDs and I instantly had a very keyable background. I had the Reflecmedia Ringlight at a very low setting because I wanted the ChromaFlex to be about the same brightness as the existing backgrounds in the room--without the dedicated greenscreen lights on.

The video below demonstrates the incredible easy setup and use. I was able to achieve a very good key with just a few tweaks of the default settings in the software, even using heavily compressed, color-poor HDV video. This is also despite the fact that I had the green LEDs down under 10% on the controller. If I were using a better video codec, and had added more green, keying would have been even easier and looked even better.

 

I even tried using The ChromaFlex system outside. The bright midday Texas sun proved to be some serious competition. Even with the Ringlight cranked all the way up on battery, the green was still very dim. This was because I had to add ND-2 on the camera and increase the shutter to compensate for the strong midday sun.

Even with that, I was able to do a little bit of grading on the video and, with near-zero setup time, I was able to pull a pretty decent key.

Other Greenscreen Strategies, Other Gear

I will admit that I do very little keying work and used only the built-in keying filters in an older version of Final Cut Pro 6. I know well that better keying software exists, that shooting a 4:2:2 codec like Canon’s XF series of cameras lends itself to better keys, and that plugging the ringlight into the AC adapter, and moving the camera closer all would have improved the quality of the final result. 

The built-in keyer in Wirecast has also received raves. The Blackmagic ATEM also has an internal, real-time HD keyer that does a very nice job. Both of these can be configured to receive the full-color output of HD-SDI or HDMI so you'll be able to pull a key for live production/streaming very easily.

But I wanted to test how well Reflecmedia could remedy an awful situation, with zero prep time, and I still pulled it off pretty well. This is a testament to how well the Chromatte system works and the quality of the keyable video it can provide.