The Japanese company M Soft has released a new tool that will revolutionize studio and broadcast recording. That tool is the Raybrid Keymaker, and it uses depth instead of color to key out backgrounds. Check out Johnnie’s conversation with them at Inter BEE 2019:
What is the M Soft Raybrid Keymaker?
The Keymaker is nothing more and nothing less than a camera accessory, an add-on that tremendously expands the capabilities of any camera you pair it with. While Canon is the official distributor of the M Soft Raybrid Keymaker, don’t let that put you off. This technology is promised to work with any camera. It is only capable of processing HD images at the moment, but there is no reason 4K won’t be in its future. The HD spec is necessary because of computational speed, not because of any insurmountable physical limitation.
How it Works
Here’s how it works: two distance sensors are mounted onto the front of the camera. The operator then sets the distance from the sensor to the background. Everything in front of that set point is separated from the background and sent through a processing pipeline where the edges are cleaned. Once the layers are cleaned and separated, you can choose to remove the background entirely, modify it, or add other objects into that 3D space.
A Quick History of Depth-Sensing
Depth-sensing technology has really come into its own in recent years, as anyone with a modern cell phone can tell you. Apple, Google, Samsung, and more have embraced depth-sensing tech that allows them to unlock the phone with a 3D scan of your face, measure objects just by pointing your phone at them, and so much more. These are useful tricks, but they aren’t broadcast-ready. Some of us might also remember Lytro, whose “light field” cinema camera promised similar depth-mapping and background replacement. However, they created a massive closed-system cinema camera, and M Soft has built an accessory. The Raybrid Keymaker theoretically works with any HD camera.
The Raybrid Keymaker is available for order today – but only in Japan. It is expected to ship by the end of the year. The cost is 3,200,000 Yen, which is about $30k or €26,500. That hefty price tag includes software, sensors, a control PC, but no camera.
What do you think – is depth keying ready for the big leagues? Or are there still advantages to chroma keying? Let us know in the comments!