Like most companies who develop photographic 'stuff', the products only get better when they listen to the people that use them.
Those of you who have been following my journey into #chromakey will know I have a passion for it. The hardware is superb and the results speak for themselves, however I have always thought that the #keying #software needed a boost. Photokey Pro 5 could almost be described as the king of keying software, used extensively throughout the #film and #photographic industry.
Designed primarily for use with moving images, it was developed as a stand-alone software. Now with the ever increasing use by stills photographers, it needed to be integrated more closely with #Photoshop, for those of us who wanted more control than that required by event photographers.
The new version of #Photokey #Pro is not just an upgrade but an enhanced version capable of some nifty moves. Version 6 now integrates fully with Photoshop 5 or 6 via a plugin that installs automatically with the software. Now there is no need to work outside of Photoshop if you need that extra control over your creativity. You can even work directly from a Raw File without having to create a jpeg first.
Open a raw file in Camera Raw and make your adjustments as necessary before opening the file directly to Photoshop. Make a copy of the layer Ctrl+J (or Cmnd+J on Mac)
Select the Photokey 6 plugin from the dropdown 'Filters' menu and it opens directly into the keying software where the background is cut automatically. Using the keying controls, make your adjustment and return back into Photoshop without jumping programs.
Using a variation of this method, you can even assign your own mask for fine tuning directly in Photoshop, a much overdue enhancement. Open the image as above and make a second copy layer, send it to Photokey using the plugin and then send straight back to Photoshop. We now have an original image, a chromakey layer and a second keyed layer on a transparent background. Ctrl+Click (or Cmnd+Click) on the keyed (transparent) layer thumbnail to create a selection.
Click the copied chromakey layer (layer 1) and using the icon in the layers palette, create a layer mask from the selection. We now have full control over the mask in Photoshop.
To finish your image off, import a suitable background and make final tweaks to individual layers. Click on the top layer in your stack and press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E to make a composite layer and do any final retouching before printing.
Many attendees at my classes when demonstrating chromakey give me great challenges, which I have always managed to fend off (Cheeky buggers). One of the most common is shooting groups of people with blue and green clothes in the same image. Using the #Reflec system and Photokey Pro 6 has made this easier than ever now.....
Take one shot with the green led's, flick the switch, shoot one shot with blue. In less than a second you have two images that can make full use of the technique above and blend them without missing a beat.
Uneven Lighting on Backgrounds
Another great improvement for those of you with traditional systems, is 'Adaptive Colour'. One of the most important aspects of chromakey, is getting an even green or blue tone across your background. If you light the background separately and don't get the lighting quite right or the venue has some tricky and awkward lighting placement that you can't move, this single click selection could improve the key effect dramatically and make enhance the fine edges and detail in your image. A caveat here though, some images are better without it (like my sample image in this article), but you can tell just by toggling the button on the interface.
Additional Filter Effects
Working with Photokey Pro 6 as a standalone product now gives you access to some exciting new effects such as pseudo HDR using vibrance, half tone, half tone colour and leave colour. Of course any of these new filters can be used in combination and with a vast array of other filters already included in previous versions of the software.
The details listed above are just some of the improvements to the software, with probably the most important being the integration with Photoshop. You may find however that depending on your workflow, using the software as a standalone product gives a better key (but with less flexibility) because the algorithms can sample from both the background and foreground elements at the same time. This is certainly the case for event photographers.
There is always the 'try before you buy' option which allows you to download a trial version complete with samples, so you can be sure that it's really for you. You will also find a host of video tutorials on the site that are invaluable in getting to know how to get the best out of the software.
New software can be purchased directly from their website at £229 or upgrade from Version 5 for just £89. Visit www.fxhome.com for all downloads, trials and video tutorials.