Video Effects Plugins and Filters - Digital Anarchy

Primatte Event Chromakey for Apple Aperture

Blue / Green Screen Photography Plugin

Powerful tether and batch for chromakey photos in Aperture

Frequent questions about Primatte Event

We receive as many questions about setting up a chromakey studio as we do about working with our Primatte Event software. This section is devoted to Q & A about Primatte . For questions about blue/green screens, lighting and staging with chromakey please visit our Chromakey Studio section.

Don't see the answer you need? Contact us with this Request Form.


When I import a new backdrop, I can't see it.

  • When I import a new backdrop, I can't see it.
  • If the Backdrop is small relative to the Subject, it may be hidden behind the Subject. The Backdrop will appear in the center of the Preview Window and will be behind the Subject. Also, Primatte Chromakey remembers the settings from previous Backdrops. So click on the Reset button in the Move section to make sure any scaling or positioning from the last Backdrop is removed.

I can't clean up all the gray areas.

  • It's difficult to use the Clean FG or Clean BG. I can't clean up all the gray areas.
  • Make sure you’re using the Box Selection Tool. This will make it easier to clean up the gray areas when creating a mask manually. The Point Selection Tool can be a little to precise and can make it difficult to select all the gray areas of the mask.

I turned on Lightwrap, but don't see any difference. Why?

  • I turned on Lightwrap, but don't see any difference. Why?
  • Depending on the Backdrop you have selected and the LightWrap Blend Mode you have selected, there may be little change to the image. The Add blend mode is a good way to see if anything is happening. So set LightWrap to Add and set Brightness to 100. You will definitely see a difference. Probably too much of a difference. But you can then back off the effect to something more usable. Also, if you have a very large image, the Radius of the effect may need to be set higher.

Primatte Chromakey removes the background when I launch it. How can I turn this off?

  • Primatte automatically removes the background when I launch it. How can I turn this off?
  • When you launch Primatte Chromakey, AutoMask is turned on and will automatically attempt to key the subject. You can turn AutoMask off by going to the AM Settings dialog and unchecking ‘Always On’. If ‘Always On’ is off, Primatte will still automatically try to key the image, but it will use the settings from the last use of Primatte. This is useful if you have a series of images that are similar and AutoMask doesn’t work on. Primatte will remember the settings from the first image and use those settings for subsequent images.

How do I add a backdrop or overlay in Primatte?

  • What is the required distance for a model to be from the background screen?
  • The general recommendation is that you keep the background at least 10' behind the subject so as to avoid shadows. This is only partially true. 10' helps but it's not necessary. You want at least 5-6 ft to prevent the green from the background spilling onto your subjects. To learn more about positioning your subject and how to light, check out our How to Light a Chromakey Screen tutorial.

I added a Backdrop in Primatte and it didn’t render in Photoshop. Why?

  • I added a Backdrop in Primatte Chromakey and it didn’t render in Adobe Photoshop. Why?
  • Usually when this happens the ‘Render BD’ button is not turned on. This stands for ‘Render Backdrop’. If it is not turned on, Primatte assumes you are just using the Backdrop for preview purposes and will not render it in Photoshop. The Subject will be against a transparent background. If you turn ‘Render BD’ on, then Primatte will composite the Subject and Backdrop and render both out to Photoshop. You will not be able to change the background in Photoshop if you do this.

Automatically process photos in realtime?

  • I was wondering if Primatte can automatically process photos as they are taken in real time? We like to have our clients and photographers be able to see the shot (with the chroma key removed and target background inserted) on a large LCD display.
  • Unfortunately, the Primatte plugin is not realtime since it operates within Photoshop, which is not a realtime application. You can see a fairly quick preview when you are setting up the mask in the Primatte interface and many of those masks are automatic, depending upon how well the original image was shot. However, the plugin will need to render its mask and bring you back to Photoshop proper.

Can't see Primatte in Photoshop; German or French language

  • I am running Photoshop on a Windows computer in Germany. I installed the Primatte plugin into Photoshop but it doesn't work. I tried several times to install, following exactly the installation guide you provided. What is the problem?
  • We have seen this problem occasionally with computers running a non-English version of Adobe Photoshop. Typically the language is German or French. On English language computers, Primatte automatically installs into the 'Plug-ins' folder in the Photoshop directory. In the German (or French) version of Photoshop, that directory is called 'Modules' or 'Modules Externes'. Usually the Primatte installer can take care of this but sometimes it doesn't.

    To fix the issue, please move the 'Digital Anarchy' directory (with the Primatte directory inside). Move it from 'Plug-ins' to 'Modules Externes' or 'Modules'. Then quit and restart Photoshop. This should take care of the problem.

Primatte Chromakey leaves magenta tint in black areas

  • I am green screening my subject with even lighting on the greenscreen, good contrast on image and few shadows. However, once I bring the photo into Primatte, the shadows on my subject which are originally black come out having a magenta tint on them. I have tried changing the brightness, but it still has the tint on the subject's shadow areas. I have used several different background colors to make sure it was not the background that I chose.
  • The magenta cast that you are seeing will show up if Primatte does not immediately figure out its mask correctly. Primatte typically removes the green background and leaves a transparent area. If it removes too much of the green, however, then the opposite color on the color wheel, which is magenta, shows up. That problem happens very rarely and easy to take care of by using the 3-tool combination instead of the AutoMask button.

Does Primatte Chromakey work on any photograph?

  • I have a photo that I took of my son in the park. Can Primatte Chromakey remove the background?
  • Primatte will not work with that kind of image. Primatte Chromakey is not a general masking plugin. Many masking tools concentrate on finding the edges around your subject. Therefore, your subject can be posed against any type of background.
    In contrast, Primatte finds a photograph's color space. It's the best way to mask around fine details that are otherwise difficult, like wispy hair and sheer fabric. When you use Primatte, your subject must always be against a single color background.

Where are the new backdrops in Primatte?

  • Where are the new backdrops in Primatte?
  • Primatte is great for artwork in which you want to add a new, exciting background behind your model. It does NOT, however, create those new backgrounds. Instead, Primatte is the tool that deletes the background you want to get rid of. To create a new background, you can use stock images, your own photos, or our Backdrop Designer plugin for Photoshop.

Why do lines appear across my images?

  • I have downloaded the trial version of your product. However, there seems to be lines going across my images when I use the product. Is this normal or will it go away if I buy the software?
  • The crosshatch lines that appear are the demo watermark. This allows you to evaluate the product before purchasing. When you purchase the product, you get a serial number will unlock the crosshatch watermark.

Why does Primatte see the wrong layer?

  • When I open Primatte Chromakey, I can't see the image I am trying to mask. Instead, I see a solid color or the Photoshop layer that I don't want to work on.
  • Most likely, you have the wrong layer selected in your Photoshop file. You need to cancel Primatte, then go into your Photoshop Layers palette. Select the layer that contains your blue (or green) screened image.

    Primatte cannot automatically detect the image you want to mask. You need to tell it which layer to work with by selecting the layer first.

Does Primatte Chromakey work with 16-bit files?

  • Will Primatte Chromakey software work with 16-bit files? I can't seem to use more than one layer.
  • Yes, Primatte Chromakey software DOES work with 16-bit files. In fact, Primatte works faster with 16-bit files than with 8-bit files. This is because Primatte processes your file natively in 16-bit.

    If you are experiencing speed issues, you may want to convert your file from 8-bit to 16-bit through Photoshop's Image> Mode menu.

    The original Primatte 2.0 release was unable to support multiple layers in 16-bit. However, we released a free 2.1 update to Primatte that takes care of this problem. Contact us for the Primatte 2.1 update.

    If you are using version 3.0, that version has always been compatible with 16-bit files.

Why does the background color turn gray?

  • I can see the mask that I've created while I'm in Primatte's interface. But when I apply Primatte to my image, I can't see the any transparent pixels. Instead, I see gray pixels where my blue (or green) screen was.
  • Most likely, you are working on a ‘Background’ layer that does not support transparency. You need to edit that layer to allow your Photoshop file to support transparency. You must do this BEFORE working with Primatte Chromakey.
    In Adobe Photoshop, you have 'regular' layers that are fully editable and support transparency. You may also have a single 'Background' layer that has a Lock icon. This is like a piece of paper that's glued down. You need to unglue that Background layer.
    To do so, in your Photoshop Layers palette, double-click the Background layer. You will get a dialog box; just click the 'OK' button. Your layer now reads as 'Layer 0' instead of 'Background' and does not have a Lock icon.
    Now your Photoshop layer can support the transparency that Primatte needs.

Why is my 'Filter' menu grayed out?

  • I can't get Adobe Photoshop to see Primatte. I've installed the plugin into the PS 'Plugins' folder. When I try to choose it from the 'Filters' menu while in the running application, it appears grayed out and un-selectable.
  • Most likely, you are trying to apply Primatte to a Grayscale file. Primatte works only on 24-bit color space files, which would be RGB or CMYK mode. Primatte does not work in Index or Grayscale mode.

    In Adobe Photoshop, convert your file to RBG or CMYK through the Image> Mode menu item.

Error: 'Primatte can't find resources'

  • After installing Primatte, I get the following errors when trying to use the filter: "Error: The file being accessed is invalid. Error getting Primatte Backdrop from resources. Error: The file being access is invalid."
  • Most likely you did not install the Primatte plugin correctly. This error means that Primatte can't properly find all of its support files. When you install Primatte, you need to install directly into the Plugins folder of Adobe Photoshop. You cannot install elsewhere on your hard drive, then drag the files over.

    You should install the Primatte plugin again. First you will want to throw away this current installation. To do this, run a 'Find File' command (Mac) or 'Search' command (Windows) for the word 'primatte'. Throw away the files that come up. Then do a fresh install with the Primatte installer. We have a Windows install doc and a Mac install doc that explain this process in detail.

Error: 'Invalid serial number'

  • I purchased the Primatte Chromakey software and have installed the plugin successfully. However, when I choose Primatte from my Photoshop 'Filter' menu to apply it, I get the following error: "Invalid serial number. Please contact Digital Anarchy..." At right is a sample error message that you may receive.
  • Most likely you did not install the Primatte plugin correctly. This error usually occurs when the Photoshop plugin has been moved from its original install location. Here are some suggestions:

    • You should not install to the top of your C:/ drive, then move the plugin to Photoshop's 'Plug-ins' folder. You need to install directly to the 'Plug-ins' folder. We recommend re-installing and starting from scratch.

    • Check to make sure the files have not installed as 'Read-Only'. If they have, you need to change their Permissions.

    • Try to install Primatte again. First you will want to throw away this current installation. Then do a fresh, new installation that designates the Photoshop Plugins folder. To get the Primatte installer, please contact us.

How do I add in a different backdrop behind my model?

  • I'm using Primatte Chromakey to get rid of the green screen behind my model. How do I add in a different background behind her?
  • There are two ways. You can add the backdrop in Photoshop. Primatte will key out the Subject and return them to Photoshop on a background of transparency. You can then put any layer behind the keyed subject. OR, you can use Primatte’s Backdrop Section. This will allow you to select an image off your hard drive and Primatte will composite the Subject against the Backdrop you select.

Moved plugin between Photoshop versions and it doesn't work

  • I just upgraded my version of Photoshop. I moved the 'Digital Anarchy' folder from one Photoshop 'Plugins' folder into the new 'Plugins' folder. Now when I try to use Primatte it works sometimes, but other times I get an error saying 'access is not allowed'.
  • The issue is that you cannot 'drag and drop' a plugin file from one Application folder to another. You need to do a fresh, new installation. You also need throw away the current Primatte files.

    When you reinstall the plugin, you will install directly into the Photoshop 'Plugins' folder. Otherwise, the plugin will not be able to properly find resource and support files that are placed in your computer. To get the Primatte installer, please contact us.

How can I learn about using 'layers'?

  • I just started using Adobe Photoshop / Elements. I don't understand how to copy/paste layers or anything else you are describing.
  • There is a lot of free information about using layers in Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. You can also buy great books and training DVD's. We have a list of recommendationed free training material here.

Create an alpha channel with Primatte

  • I want to create an alpha channel in Photoshop with Primatte Chromakey settings. How can I save the mask created by Primatte?
  • Primatte doesn't save mask / alpha information directly, but there is a simple workaround. Here's what you do: Render out a Primatte mask as you would normally. Then re-render the mask on a duplicate Photoshop layer as a grayscale image. You do this by rendering with 'Mask View' selected. Now copy/paste that grayscale image into a Layer Mask on the original layer. Then load in the Layer Mask as selection, and save as an alpha channel.

    Need more details? Read our PDF Tutorial Steps to create an Alpha Channel or Layer Mask with Primatte Tutorial.

A grayscale image accidentally renders

  • When I render my Primatte mask, sometimes the masked pixels become transparent, but other times I get a grayscale image on my Photoshop layer. Why does this happen and how can I control it?
  • There are two ways to render out Primatte Chromakey. You have accidentally chosen the second way. Both methods are shown below.

    Method 1- If you render out Primatte with the 'Comp View' mode showing, then you will get the expected result. This is your subject against transparent pixels, of course.

    Method 2- When you render out your Primatte mask with the 'Mask View' mode showing, then Primatte renders out a grayscale image. That's great for additional editing if you know a lot about Photoshop. Otherwise, you will want to render with 'Comp View'.

How can I make Primatte Chromakey faster?

  • I am working with a very high-end computer, but Primatte Chromakey takes more than 15 seconds to create a mask. Can I speed things up?
  • A 15-second mask is actually pretty speedy when you consider that Primatte Chromakey is running some pretty heavy math through Photoshop's architecture. If you compare that performance to applying any intensive filter in Photoshop, like Extract or Warp, its time frame is comparable.

    Having said that, Primatte's speed is something that we optimize with each dot release. And there are a few ways to work with the plugin a little faster.

    • Try changing your Photoshop file from 8-bit to 16-bit [Image> Mode menu]. Often the 16-bit file will process faster because Primatte processes 16-bit natively, then converts it to 8-bit.

    • If you feel that you will have to experiment to get a good mask, then we can suggest a workaround: Create a lower-resolution version of your Photoshop file. Change the resolution to 150 ppi, and scale down the width and height dimensions. Then do a Save As. Now create your mask with this alternate, smaller file and test render as needed. Once you find the correct mask settings, render them out, then open up the high-res file. Primatte remembers the last settings you created, which means you can successfully apply the same mask.

The file 'Primatte.8bf' will not open

  • I installed your Photoshop plugin but can't get it to run. I keep clicking the file called 'Primatte.8bf' and nothing happens. I've also tried clicking inside the folder called 'Res' but get an error message.
  • It sounds as if you have correctly installed the plugin. However, you want to access it through your Photoshop application, not from your hard drive.

    Open a new Photoshop file, then go to the Filters menu. You should see a 'Digital Anarchy' item listed at the bottom of that menu, with a sub-menu choice of 'Primatte'.

Why do I see a checkerboard?

  • When I work inside of Primatte to create a mask, everything looks fine. Once I render the mask, back in Photoshop, Primatte has created a gray and white checkerboard pattern. How do I get rid of this image? Why is Primatte doing this?
  • The checkerboard background that you see is related to Photoshop, not Primatte. This is how Photoshop expresses an area in your file that is transparent. The checkerboard will not print or display itself visually outside of Photoshop.

    To turn on/off or adjust the view options, go to your Photoshop preferences. On Windows, choose Edit> Preferences. On a Mac (shown below), choose Photoshop> Preferences. Go to the 'Transparency & Gamut' option.

Can I use Primatte in other apps?

  • I want to use Primatte Chromakey inside of After Effects. Can I do that with your plugin?
  • Primatte is available for most applications in other visual disciplines, such as photography, special effects, video production, and 2D compositing. Digital Anarchy only develops and sells the Photoshop version of Primatte.

    If you are interested in Primatte for any software other than Photoshop, please visit Photron at for more details.

How does Primatte get rid of the hot spots in my photo?

  • My background has bright spots from the lights that I set up. I think that uneven tone is causing the Primatte mask to be incorrect. How do I compensate for this?
  • Unfortunately, Primatte Chromakey cannot fix bad lighting. Like all photography, chromakey photos need good lighting. If the photo is too dark or bright, if your subject is not well-lit or the lighting is uneven, then Primatte will have difficulty creating a good mask. The background color is too uneven, for instance, for Primatte to distinguish its bright spots from the light colors in your subject (like teeth and eyes). Alternately, your subject is not clearly defined from the background if there are uneven shadows falling along the screen and the model. Read about how to light properly.

Primatte doesn't remove the screen's wrinkles

  • Primatte isn't removing the wrinkles in the screen, where the folds cast shadows.
  • Unfortunately, Primatte Chromakey cannot fix wrinkles. Wrinkles and folds can easily creep into the back screen if you aren't paying attention to how it lays. This causes uneven tones and makes it difficult for Primatte to define the range of color that it needs to remove. Primatte can't tell the difference between the dark wrinkle colors and the dark colors of your subject (like folds of clothing). Read about working with a screen.

Primatte doesn't remove the shadow behind my model

  • Primatte isn't removing the very dark areas behind my model, where she was sitting near the chromakey screen. How can I get rid of this shadow?
  • Unfortunately, Primatte Chromakey cannot fix shadows. After your photoshoot, you may notice a deep shadow cast along the backing screen. This shadow generally happens from the subject being placed too close to the chromakey screen. Problem is, Primatte can't tell the difference between those dark shadow colors and the dark colors in your subject (like folds of clothing). Ideally, your subject should be positioned at least 4-6 feet away from the screen and preferably up to 10 feet. If your subject is sitting only 1-2 feet away from the green screen then unwanted shadows will occur. Read about working with a screen.

When I select the Move, Rotate or Scale buttons nothing happens.

  • When I select the Move, Rotate or Scale buttons nothing happens.
  • There are a couple possible reasons for this. First, you need to click and drag on the image for the tools to work. Secondly, you must select one of the checkboxes that say ‘Subject’, ‘Backdrop’, or ‘Overlay’. These checkboxes tell Primatte what you want the tool to work on. If you want to Move the Subject and Backdrop, you select the Move tool and turn on the checkbox next to ‘Backdrop’ and ‘Subject’. You’ll now be able to move both.

When I use the Scale tool everything gets distorted.

  • When I use the Scale tool everything gets distorted. It does not keep the ratio of the image.
  • Hold down the Shift key while clicking and dragging. This will constrain the ratio of the image as you’re scaling it, just like it does in Photoshop.

When I import a new backdrop or overlay, it’s distorted.

  • When I import a new backdrop or overlay, it’s distorted.
  • Primatte will remember any changes you made to previous Backdrops. So if you scaled and rotated the last Backdrop you used, Primatte will apply these settings to the new Backdrop. To fix this, click on the ‘Reset’ button in the Move section. Make sure the ‘Backdrop’ (or whatever you want to reset) checkbox is turned on).

How do I set up my chromakey studio?

  • How do I set up my chromakey studio?
  • We have a whole section on how to set up your chromakey section which talks about the basics of blue/green screens, lighting and staging with chromakey. To learn more about setting up your own chroma studio, go to Setup Chromo Studio.

Key Plugin Features

  • Seamlessly use Primatte Event in a tethered live workflow
  • Print a composite immediately or batch process later
  • Perfect for high-volume event, little league and school portraits

Primatte Event for Aperture

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Chromakey Setup