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Chroma Key Debacle
Old 03-29-2004, 08:39 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I asked this question on the Main Forum and got some very useful advice on the topic that enabled me to use SOME of the stuff I shot with Chroma Key "Green and Blue" backgrounds. The extract filter in PS7 works pretty well, but still the fine hair issue remains. But here's my dilemma....is that all there is?????

"Blue Screen" technology has been around for EONS. It was a pretty common practice in the video world when I left the business over 10 years ago. Some time later they introduced "Green Screens" (same principle) because they're theoretically better and easier to "drop out" than blue. They still use it in TV everywhere. Nightly news, Sports Casts, Weather Forcasts, etc.. One would THINK such technology would be "old hat" at this stage of the game, so many years after the introduction of the whole process.

It seems REALLY difficult to believe that the same technology isn't applicable to still digital photography. If it were, there would be no need for brushes and drawing around the image or extracting anything. You'd simple load the image and the selected "chroma" color would be digitally removed. There HAS to be something like that out there. It seems IMPOSSIBLE to believe in a world CHOCK FULL of digital cameras and photographers and trillions of pictures being taken every day that the industry hasn't provided a software for this application. How "RETRO-TECH" that would be...But who knows...I know I've looked everywhere, and haven't found anything available on the retail market yet.

This whole rant is an appeal to anyone out there who may have the answer. I, for one will continue to purse the topic feverishly. The whole principle behind Chroma Key is REALLY cool, and if it worked the way it works in video, the creative boundaries would be endless! The way we're doing it now is functional, but limited, and extremely time consuming and impractical.
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Re: Chroma Key Debacle
Old 03-29-2004, 09:20 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Why couldn't you just do a selection based on a color range? Unless I mus-understand your question.
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Re: Chroma Key Debacle
Old 03-29-2004, 09:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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No, it sounds like something I'm not aware of...in which menu is that tool located?
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Re: Chroma Key Debacle
Old 03-29-2004, 10:13 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I don't know where it is located in PS7. I am using PS8 (skipped from 6.something to 8), but I have used it several times in the past, it may have been called something else. In PS*, it is under the "select" menu.

What you essentially do is select all pixels in a specified color range (you can choose them with an eye-dropper )and do whatever you want with them just like any selection.
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Re: Chroma Key Debacle
Old 03-30-2004, 12:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I also came from a video background and miss Chromakey and it's big brother Ultimatte. Have no fear, the crude methods available in Photoshop work fine, if you set the shot up correctly.

Here's my way, step by step
1. Light your backdrop (green, blue, white, whatever) as flat and even as possible (no highlights or shadows - same as you did in video). This is important as you want the background to be as close to monochrome as possible.
2. In Photoshop, use the Magic Wand Tool (selection tool) it's located second from top on right side of tool menu
3. Set the Tolerance to about 12 (controls are located just below the Filters pulldown menu) Click on your background color.
4. Open the Select pulldown menu and choose Similar. This should highlight all the background. If not, change the tolerance to a higher number and repeat.
5. With all the background highlighted, my next step is to go to the Select menu and click on Invert. The I copy the selected image and make a selerate layer using the Layer, New via Copy
6. My final step is to clean up the copied layer with the eraser or clone brush, then replace the background with another image.

Note: On more complex backgrounds, I use Corel Knockout 2 or Photoshop Extract to fine tune the process. In the image below, Jenna was not on fire. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shocked.gif[/img]



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