In late July, we released Primatte Chromakey 3.5, a terrific update for using our greenscreen masking tool in Adobe Photoshop CS5 and 64-bit native operation. Also in July, a terrific article appeared in Post magazine about how to set up for greenscreen. The article is ‘The Keys to Shooting Greenscreen’ and it’s written by one of my favorite industry writers, Randi Altman, who is also Post’s editor.
Randi’s topic is really about greenscreening for video and film (with specs like HDCAM and 35mm/24fps) since Post is a broadcast media publication. However, her sage advice is completely applicable to working with photographs and other still images.
Since one week is a decade in internet time, I’m seeing this February post about green screening an eternity too late. But I still think it’s interesting, as is most of the stuff that I find through BoingBoing.net. The movie shown below is the 2009 Virtual Backlot Reel from StargateStudios.
It’s fascinating — and maybe a bit disturbing — to realize that mundane scenes in TV shows are now regularly treated as visual effects events. Digital Anarchy first developed Primatte Chromakey, our Adobe Photoshop plugin for green screen masking, in mid-2005. At the time, we had to spend a lot of time simply explaining to photographers what ‘green screen’ meant. Five years later, green screen is a recognized entity with information accessible on non-pro sites like ehow.com. The convergence continues!
Joe Farace lights up the room in two ways. He is a talented photographer, writer and teacher whose emails end with catchy signatures like ‘It’s 2010 and the Big Bang never ended’ or ‘Saving the world, one pixel at a time’. He is also an expert on lighting and imaging techniques for photographers.
Recently, Joe showed me a photo composite that he created while writing one of his upcoming books. The image was masked with Primatte Chromakey, our blue / green screen Adobe Photoshop plugin.
I recently came across a blog post by Fuzzy Duenkel, a photographer over in Wisconsin. He makes a pretty passionate case against using scene swapping (e.g. the type of stuff you do with Primatte and green screen) for traditional, ‘classic’ portraits. By and large I agree with him. I don’t think it’s a great use of the technology to put someone in a place they’ve never been so they can say they were there. For novelty photos and the like, it’s great, but for a ‘classic’ portrait, maybe not so much. But there’s more to portraits than just the classic look.
When we first launched Primatte, we tested a variety of ‘greenscreen’ backgrounds to determine what to recommend. Paper backgrounds turned out to be worst and we had the best luck with a velcro/foam material.
Well… apparently not all paper backgrounds are made equal!
I don’t remember who made the paper background we initially tested. But it was awful. Very reflective and prone to hot spots. We figured all paper would have the same problems. After listening to a talk by another company that does greenscreen software, I decided to revisit this and give Savage Paper’s ‘tech green #46’ a try.
So how’d it fare vs. the foam materail we’ve been recommending since day 1?
I was in DC for the inauguration and in my hotel you could get a picture with President Obama pretty much any time. The trick to this was that they had a green screen set up and they’d composite you into a picture with the Prez. (or Joe Biden… but c’mon… how many people are going to go for Joe?). It was pretty entertaining to see people lined up to do this. It’s pretty cool to see how prevalent greenscreens are becoming.