Price: £1,095 plus VAT; Photoshop-only version £395 plus VAT
AdvantEdge is a redesigned and rewritten version of Ultimatte’s eponymous keying tool. It runs under a wide range of operating systems (Windows, Mac OS 9 and X, and Linux), and applications – including Adobe After Effects and Premiere, Apple Final Cut Pro and Shake, Discreet Combustion, Eyeon Digital Fusion, and Avid’s line of editing and compositing tools. It should also work with any other tool that can use AE plug-ins. A separate, less expensive version is available for work in Photoshop. The AdvantEdge interface takes over your whole screen: as keying is usually a focused task, it can be good just to have the controls you need in front of you. However, even on our dual Xeon 2.8GHz, 2GB RAM Dell powerhouse, the interface took a long time to load or disappear, which can be a pain if you need to switch to another tool. Overall, AdvantEdge isn’t exactly nippy – but this just means that it’s doing a lot of work in the background. The interface has two modes: Less, and More. Less offers mainly automatic tools, while More lets you tweak to an amazingly high degree. Selecting key colour ranges involves drawing a line with an eyedropper, and the output is as good as most keyers after manual correction. The impressive toolset also includes the unique video-correction filtering, which compensates for colour loss and artifacts in compressed video formats – including DV. Colour conformance changes the colour levels of the keyed footage to match the underlying clip. Roto Screen Correction creates a synthetic clean plate, which can provide better keys if you don’t have access to a real one. It’s tools such as these that set AdvantEdge apart. The Photoshop version of AdvantEdge is more powerful than tools such as Corel’s KnockOut – which Ultimatte also developed. However, on less powerful machines, it can be so slow as to be almost unusable. It’s also expensive – around £150 more than KnockOut, which it should be nearer to. The only downside to AdvantEdge is the cost. £1,100 is a reasonable price for a resolution-independent keying tool of this calibre if you’re working on mid-range to high-end post work, but it’s likely to be out of reach for DV-based creatives. A £500 or less SD-only (or even DV-only) version would be great. However, it’s a magnificently powerful tool that serious editors and compositors will want.