New from Crystal Vision is LKEY 3, a linear keyer designed for the high quality keying of a real-time graphic generated by an external graphics machine over a 3Gb/s, HD or SD video stream. LKEY 3 is Crystal Vision's most advanced linear keyer yet, bringing with it a number of new features including 3Gb/s video compatibility, useful system timing functionality (built-in video delay and frame synchronizers) and enhanced masks offering adjustable edge softness. Providing straightforward operation, LKEY 3 is currently Crystal Vision's most affordable and space-saving solution for the keying of external graphics.

LKEY 3 allows the key to be generated in two different ways. External key mode uses the luminance of a separate key signal and generally provides the highest quality result while allowing complete flexibility in the content of the keyed graphic, including permitting parts of the key to have varied video levels for a semi-transparent effect. The simpler Self key mode uses the luminance of the Foreground graphic itself to decide where the keying occurs, meaning only one channel is required and it is not necessary to generate a separate key signal which is aligned in position and time with the graphic. After the key is generated, fill video is inserted – usually the Foreground graphic or alternatively black or a color produced by the internal matte generator. LKEY 3 offers both additive and multiplicative linear keying, allowing the operator to choose a method to suit the graphics. It is possible to alter how the key signal affects the output image – such as compensating for a key signal which does not have enough amplitude to force full keying – by changing the key gain and offset.

LKEY 3 includes flexible internal and external masks – adjustable in position and size – which can be used to prevent keying in particular areas of the picture by masking the visibility of either the Foreground or Background signal. Adjustable edge softness on these masks is useful for blending between masked and unmasked areas for a more natural-looking edge. Masks can also be inverted to force keying to only occur outside a given area.

The keyed graphic can be faded in and out, either manually or as a timed transition – with these fade controls also enabling the graphic to be displayed with a semi-transparent effect. LKEY 3 can also be used to fade the complete program to black if required.

Any timing errors will be automatically corrected by the frame synchronizer on each input timed to an external Black and Burst or tri-level syncs analogue reference – synchronizing sources up to one frame apart for easy system timing. LKEY 3 also includes an additional ten frames of video delay on each input, adjustable in one frame steps and ideal for aligning system processing delays which are greater than a frame – for example, the fill and key coming from a graphics machine may arrive several frames later than the background program video.
LKEY 3 is easy to use in a system with embedded audio, with the audio source selection feature allowing selection of audio from either the camera feed or the background graphics to output with the final video.

Explained Crystal Vision's Managing Director, Philip Scofield: "LKEY 3 is a compact, high quality video keyer that fits into our modular product range along with a large number of other keying products. Many customers have found it a dependable, well-supported product that they can use in large numbers."
LKEY 3 is a 100mm x 266mm board which fits in the Indigo frames, available in 2U, 1U and desk top box sizes. LKEY 3 is half the height of Crystal Vision's previous linear keyer (the LKEY HD), which allows 12 linear keyers to fit in 2U and makes it ideal for multi-channel keying applications. Inputs and outputs are accessed by using either the RM50 or RM73 frame rear modules, with the RM73 providing useful relay bypass protection of the background program on power failure or board malfunction or removal. The main and auxiliary outputs can independently show the video sources, the key or the combined picture.

Hardware control options for LKEY 3 include board edge switches, an integrated control panel on the front of the frame or the VisionPanel remote control panel. LKEY 3 can also be controlled from a computer – using SNMP, the Statesman Lite PC software or the VisionWeb web browser control. LKEY 3 additionally features flexible GPI control for functions such as fading the key on and off, with the user able to choose whether to work with momentary or latching action and to set whether the levels are active high or low. 32 presets – useful for storing settings such as lift, gain and fade time for each graphic – can be recalled from GPI.

LKEY 3 is shipping now and joins Crystal Vision's well-established family of keyers, including the Safire 3 real-time chroma keyer, MultiLogo three-layer logo keyer and LKEY-SQZ squeeze back keyer.

Based at Whittlesford near Cambridge in the UK and with an office in the USA, Crystal Vision provides digital keyers and a full range of interface equipment including converters, synchronizers, distribution amplifiers and audio embedders to the professional broadcasting industry worldwide.