Review: Hawaiki Keyer 5, from FxFactory

Posted on by Larry

[Disclaimer. I bought this for a project I’m working on. And, yes, it solved my keying problems.]

Most of the time, Ultra Key in Premiere, or Green Screen Keyer in Final Cut Pro, do a fine job of removing a green screen and inserting an actor into a new environment.

But, not always.


Hawaiki Keyer 5 is a high-quality, infinitely-adjustable chroma-key plugin for Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects, as well as Apple Final Cut Pro and Motion. Offering controls that simply aren’t available on other keyers, Hawaiki Keyer can salvage even a mediocre source image.

If the lighting, set or staging is less than perfect, you can have a real challenge in making a key look “realistic.” (And, face it, when does production ever have enough time to light any scene “perfectly?”) When you need to create a truly clean chroma-key, even with substandard production, you need Hawaiki Keyer 5, from FxFactory.

Special features include:

Support from both FxFactory and Hawaiki was fast and knowledgeable.

Hawaiki Keyer 5 is not cheap. But, when you need to create a key that viewers think is real, nothing else does as good a job.

Developer: Hawaiki, distributed by FxFactory
Product: Hawaiki Keyer 5
Price: $149
A full-featured, watermarked free trial is available.


Hawaiki Keyer 5 is available through the FxFactory suite of plugins. Download the free FxFactory software, then purchase and install the Hawaiki Keyer 5 plugin from within FxFactory.

The software supports Apple Final Cut Pro and Motion, Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects.


Let’s tackle a dramatic night scene. I’m illustrating this process in Premiere Pro, but this is almost identical when creating a key in Final Cut Pro.

Here’s the source image. The idea green-screen background is evenly lit, well-saturated, and around 50% on the Waveform monitor. This source image is dark, less saturated, with uneven lighting that ranges from 15-25% on the waveform monitor. In short, it’s a problem.

After applying Hawaiki Keyer 5, this is the final result. Let’s see how to create this key.


Select the green-screen clip and apply the effect the same as any other. It may take a few seconds, but Keyer 5 will automatically recognize the correct color of green – there’s nothing you need to sample.

In Effect Controls (Video Inspector in Final Cut) click the Matte checkbox to view the matte (results) of the key.

Our goal is for the background to be completely black (transparent) and the foreground to be completely white. Gray areas are translucent. While the default settings are good, we aren’t there yet. See all that “dust” floating in the background. We need to get rid of that.

The first step is to adjust Primary > Density until the background is solid black.

If you are lucky, simply adjusting this top-level setting creates a clean key.

One of the strengths of Hawaiki Keyer 5 is its ability to view the key in a variety of ways. Hawaiki provides 17 different ways to analyze a key.

Key views: Analysis (left), Spill Map (center) and Edge Matte (right). Click to see larger image.

While all keying software supports displaying the Matte, Keyer 5 provides more. I especially appreciate Analysis, Spill Map and Edge Matte. While Matte shows foreground and background, these other three options provide detail on how to clean edges.


Here, I’ve got a spill problem in my hair (red arrow).

This is more visible if I switch the view to Analysis. See that yellow-ish patch? That is uncorrected spill.

Another way to view this is the Spill Map. Magenta is transparent. Cyan is opaque. The blended color, on the edges of my head, is spill.

To correct this, scroll down to Despill > Spill Map Depth and adjust until the excess color in the hair and shoulders is gone.

NOTE: After reading this review, the developer sent me the following comment. “I should clarify that Despill is a process independent of the matte extraction (alpha). The whole image is despilled and color corrected and then multiplied by the matte at the end of the chain to generate the final key.

“While the solid magenta areas of the Spill Map generally correspond with transparent areas of the matte, it would be more accurate to say they are fully despilled – you can see this if you switch to the Despill view where the green screen should show up as grey. The solid cyan areas are parts of the image where there is no spill suppression. If an area with obvious excess spill isn’t showing up as Magenta on the Spill Map view then increase the Spill Map Depth until it does.”


In another tutorial I wrote how to use stationary masks to fix foreground keying problems, like the excessive green reflecting off this table and computer. But, a stationary mask won’t work if the camera is moving. You need more powerful software.

Switching to the Matte view dramatically shows the problem – the table is translucent.

To fix this, adjust Primary > FG Fill and Level until the foreground is solid white in Matte view.

This is the result – a clean key that will track as the camera or object moves.


Another technique that I really like is blending the colors of the background with the foreground. Ultra Key, in Premiere doesn’t support this, though Green Screen Keyer in Final Cut does. Hawaiki Keyer 5 goes further – you can blend backgrounds in a variety of ways.

For example, see the hard edge on the side of my head (left image). This is removed by enabling Edge Tools > Background Match and adjusting the Amount (right image).

NOTE: We can set which layer is used for the background from the Background menu at the bottom of the filter.


No edge effects, left. Light wrap, center. Final with blurred background (right)
(Click to see larger image.)

Or, here, notice how there’s no color bleed from the background onto my shoulders in the left image. Normally, in the “real world,” background colors would bleed onto foreground talent. By enabling Light Wrap, I can let colors bleed between different layers; as shown in the center image.

Finally, blur the background to provide the illusion of Depth of Field. The right image shows the finished result.


Hawaiki Keyer 5 is a flexible, powerful tool to make green (or blue) backgrounds disappear. It provides a level of control not available in any other chroma-key software I’ve worked with. It creates clean keys even with problematic source footage. It will take a while to learn, but, once you learn it, you’ll never look back.

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One Response to Review: Hawaiki Keyer 5, from FxFactory

  1. Dennis Mahaffay says:

    A great description of this software, Larry. Thank you.

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