Anyone use "Virtual Backgrounds"

Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by jstuedle, Jul 12, 2007.

  1. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2005
    Messages:
    4,889
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    S.E. Indiana
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I hope to be in our studio by early/mid fall. I am in need of backdrops, muslins, scenes, etc. I ran across a machine at:

    http://virtualbackgrounds.net/home.html

    This machine projects a 4cmX4cm super slide with a background scene onto a screen at the same center axis as your camera lens. In theory it should work, but I am skeptical. It seems some of the background image would have to be captured on the subject. Lighting would also seem to be a problem, strobes would need to be backed way of so as to not washout the projection screen. This would be a sacrifice of DOF or shooting at higher ISO than is customary in the studio. I searched the forum and found a passing reference to the system, but no first hand user reports. Anyone out there use this thing, and if so is it worth spending a chuck of change on? I am sure this system don't come cheap. I have requested more info from the company, but want some pro perspective as well. TIA guys (& gals ;) )
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Messages:
    33,817
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Sorry, never used it.

    Have you considered a Chroma Key background (typically a blue or green screen)? You could then easily use digital backgrounds.

    I'm also in the market for some sort of backgrounds...I've got a backdrop stand and some large bed sheets...but I've been looking at the many, many options with Muslin etc.
     
  3. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2005
    Messages:
    4,889
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    S.E. Indiana
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I've thought about Chroma, and will most likely do that too, but it results in "hard hair". It won't let the little wisps and fly away hair come through and as a result looks artificial, as it is. One thing I had thought of, instead of using the slides of the V.B. system, hooking up a digital projector and using files right off the computer as backgrounds. I want to know how well it works first before investing. As it is, I only have one real background, a Denny's 16 X 24 gray hand painted muslin. Basic and overused IMO. I want to build 3 permanent B.G. sets, one would hide the Chroma or V.B. screen, and have 2 to 4, maybe more pull down B.G's. My studio is only 24 X 24 with a small kitchen and bath occupying one wall. So actual floor space for shooting is 20 X 24. I have a lot more ideas than money right now. And even more projects than time. So much for being retired. :)
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2003
    Messages:
    33,817
    Likes Received:
    1,811
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    :lol: I hear ya...I've got plenty of ideas & not much money...but at least you have the space to start with.

    I've heard of people using slides and projectors for backgrounds...I don't know it the were talking about one of these machines or if it was just a standard projector. If a standard projector works, then a digital one would surely work as well.
     
  5. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2007
    Messages:
    2,694
    Likes Received:
    61
    Location:
    Missouri
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    There is a photographer who posts his work in a mall that we go through from time to time that is heavily into virtual backgrounds...

    His work is hideously bad. I am serious here, it is absolutely awful. Embarrassingly bad. Shockingly bad. In other words, it is not good.

    I am not saying it is the fault of the virtual background, per say... most of the rest of his regular background stuff is fairly poor as well... but...

    I dunno, the whole idea of using canned sets, reusing props 10,000 times and virtual backgrounds really does nothing for me. But that's me.
     
  6. glaston

    glaston TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    Messages:
    216
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    That's not really true.
    I use an app called Knockout, which has such sophisticated masking tools that it can even do smoke or the transparency of glass.
    It works great on hair.

    If you're willing to spend time learning a software package, you can get reasonably priced 3D modeling/animation software that has a feature called camera mapping.
    It uses virtual cameras, which you can set to be ANY camera type with ANY feature that you would get with a physical camera.
    It keeps the camera locked to your background image, then you can use different angles for the foreground subject and it will still be locked to the BG.
    You can set the camera to use DOF and you have complete control over its settings.
    You can also totally reinvent the lighting for the scene.

    You end up with a Photoshop .psd file with whatever layers you specified for the output intact.
    Then you can tweak the image in photoshop for even more control.

    A software solution is superior to a device that projects a BG image. Software offers much more than a dedicated device.

    Unless you're a purist? In that case then, you're limiting yourself.
    And limiting yourself in that way is not logical. It's purely emotional, and not a substitute for logic.
     
  7. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2005
    Messages:
    4,889
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    S.E. Indiana
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I would really like to see someone go through the work-flow and see examples of any system I contemplate purchasing. It's a big investment and my payback is limited by both my balancing retirement/will-to-work :lol: and my age and life expectancy:sad anim:. Got to be a realist. The version of Knockout I had was older and not so good so I had just passed it off. You say the current version is pretty good? I give it a try again, and chroma backgrounds aren't expensive these days so that's a given anyway.
    I want to visit a studio where the V.B. system is in use and examine some of the everyday results. The sales kit I received today from them is very impressive, but even I can mess up and take a stunner every now and then.
    Thanks for all the feed back guys, as things progress I'll let you know what works out.
     
  8. glaston

    glaston TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2007
    Messages:
    216
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    The backgrounds from that machine look kind of cheesy. I originally thought they would be photorealistic.

    Have you ever shot with a chroma-key background?

    I assume you mean a blue/green screen.

    You may already know, and if so, sorry to re-iterate but I have limited experience in this and I've acquired alot of information about it.
    For both stills and DV. So I'm just throwing it in here in case anyone else can use the info.
    If I remember right, you choose which color screen to use (blue or green) based on the color pallet you have going in the scene.
    Off the cuff, I think light skinned fair haired subjects require the blue screen and darker skin/hair subjects the green.

    Obviously then it's best to setup your shots with that in mind. Which would include the background image, lighting scheme, clothing colors, props, etc..
    The more control you have over these attributes the easier it is to pull the key.

    You also have to light the green/blue screen until it's evenly lit across as much of the surface as possible. That's in addition (or conjunction) to your desired lighting arrangement.
    Many people try to use backlighting to light the screen. Which is a huge mistake for obvious reasons.
    The idea is to get as close to "pure" green or "pure" blue as possible.
    You can buy tape, fabric, paint and paper in both colors at a place online.
    All things considered it's best to have both colors on hand.
    Depending on your particular use of it, you would probably want to go with a slightly larger screen than you immediately think you need due to the lighting issue.
    So that you can crop out the edges where the lighting is very hard to keep consistent.

    That's about the extent of my experience with it.
    I hope someone can use the info.
     
  9. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2005
    Messages:
    4,889
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    S.E. Indiana
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Thanks Glaston. I too have limited experience with Chroma. What you state is as I remember it. When I used it, computers were a LOT slower and P-Shop was in ver. 5. I am sure the post is a lot easier than then, but lighting is always an issue. My issue with it was the "hard hair" look, but as you mentioned earlier that may not be an issue any longer. I have seen stunning examples of the V.B. machines final product, but I want to see it in actual use and walk through the whole process and view the typical final result. The more I read, the more I see everything must be perfect, camera perfectly square to the background screen on both vert. and horz. axis. Lighting both reflected from the screen and your subject must be at the same levels. One add I saw stated the power pack was adjustable in 1/10 stop increments. Probably a good thing with the light balance requirements. The background slides the sell are 4cm. X 4cm. square super-slides. Some photographers use 35mm they have shot. This adds another variable to the lighting process. The company will make slides from your digital image, but they want it at 1800X1800 pixels. I would think that is too low a resolution, but the BG is usually thrown out of focus intentionally so it's most likely not an issue. Enough rambling, I keep talking and I'll confuse even myself.
     
  10. LongsPhoto

    LongsPhoto TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    I saw these in action at the WPPI tradeshow last March. They look FAR better than any other virtual setup that I have ever seen. They aren't cheap-- $4-7K if I remember correctly. There are a few limitations-- you really have to shoot straight on at the background for it to work and they have a projector stand for the slides which seemed a bit bulky-- I like to move around more than what this seemed to allow.

    I think ANY backdrop can look cheesy-- it all depends on how you use it. The system had a lot that I liked, but I don't care for the fake scenes that it uses: staircases, beaches, doorways, etc. To me, those always look fake.

    I believe the company has a lot of training info, CDs, etc they can provide you with before you make the purchase. Hope this helps!
     
  11. rprimeau95

    rprimeau95 TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    133
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Michigan
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    where do you buy this "Knockout" software?


    thanks
     
  12. Bthornton

    Bthornton TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2007
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Detroit MI
    I ran into a problem of needing more backgrounds without a lot of money or space. I have a mobile studio and really did not want to lug around even more stuff. I went to backdropoutlet.com and bought some Fantasy Cloths. I will tell you I was PO'd when I got them because there were like a cheap tissue paper or so I thought. I love them! Have them in 10 colors and use them with every indoor session. I start with a white or back muslin and drape them over it to get the effect I want. I use clips to get a great drape effect if I want it. My customers LOVE the look they get from it. A 10x20 is $59 or 2 for $69. Even better Backdrop Outlet has an Ebay store where you can get them as low as $10!
    These can be wadded up into a little ball and shoved in a bag, you can layer them you can even shoot thru some of them. I do it with the sheer white.
     

Share This Page

Search tags for this page
anyone use chroma backdrops
,
buying virtual background slides
,
virtual background scene machine forum
,
virtual background super slide
,
virtual background super slides from your files.
,

virtual backgrounds - scene machine wanted ebay

,
virtual backgrounds forum
,
virtual backgrounds super slides
,

virtualbackgrounds slides

,
where can i buy virtual projector back grounds