The Easy Green Screen 4x plugin is finally out and I am in love with it! Damon did an outstanding job with the new “One Click Extraction”, which is available in the Pro version only. Blue chromakey backdrops are also supported along with batch processes within the Pro version. You may demo this plugin at no cost here: http://ezgreenscreen.com/
I have been using the Easy Green Screen plugin sense version 2.x He only had the free version in the beginning, but only green chromakey backdrops were supported. Hey, free is always nice but my time is worth so much more to me then the price difference, by using an inferior product. I have tried them all and in my opinion Easy Green Screen is the only solution worth your efforts, versus the dollar value.
To the best of my knowledge all versions have worked the same, running algorithms as Photoshop scripts. This is not always the case with some of the more expensive competitors. So you ask; why does this matter? Easy Green Screen, is far less processor/RAM intensive, thus leaving more of your system resources available to Photoshop, which always seems to be starving for more power.
I have mentioned throughout this and other reviews and tutorials on Easy Green Screen versions CS or later. I should point out before we go any further, while this is true Damon, that’s advantage of several built in features of Photoshop CS5 and later. For the purpose of this article, I am using Photoshop CS6. We are going to run through some of the new features available in Easy Green Screen 4 and then we will get into the initial setup and production usage.
The first thing you will want to do after installing the Easy Green Screen plugin is to open an image and click on Filters> Easy Green Screen Pro 4. Next click on Adjust Image, which will open the dialog box to left of this illustration. With a properly exposed image we’ll just accept the defaults and continue on. However, with obvious issues we will need to tweak the settings and fine tune the plugin interface. Once finished fine tuning your settings you will want to save your setting. In the example above I am using the models name Kelly, so that I will quickly find the perfect settings for the images I am about to edit. By doing this first we have loaded the controls with the algorithms needed to enable us to use the One Click execration for any additional chromakey extractions.
If after adjusting these 3 sliders you still have problems, you should go into the next button down Adjust Spill.
Adjusting the Spill, can be painstakingly slow, but your time spent making these critical fine adjustments will really pay off in the long run. The bulk of you adjustments will be on the top section Correct Color Spill, the Edge Color Blending should be adjusted once you’re happy with the fine tuning to the majority of the image itself. Working with a blonde makes it quick and easy to spot your troubled areas. Her hair will be too green or too red. Simply move the slider until your image looks as even as possible. I’m not sure if it’s a requirement or even needed, but I will save my preset Kelly, once again.
For all intensive purposes we are finished and ready for some serious production.
Fine Tuning & Tweaking
If we have perfect light on our chromakey backdrop we would be able to skip this section. If however you do not have “perfect” lighting we will fix those imperfections within our masks in Photoshop.
My backdrop is obviously far from perfectly lit. I have hot spots near the top corners and deep shadows towards the floor on both right and left bottom regions of the backdrop. Because of this I need to tweak the mask. This is why I stress taking your time when lighting the backdrop.
There is a zillion ways to do anything in Photoshop. Use whatever you’re more comfortable and accurate with. In this case I will use the magic wand tool, with the foreground layer selected, not the mask, make the selection in the foreground area that needs our attention. If your selection did not come right up to the edge of the image you wish to keep; use Select, Modify, Expand. In my particular case, I will use somewhere around three pixels.
Now select your foreground layer mask. Simply paint out the trouble spots with your black paintbrush. This will clean up the unmask area, effetely fixing our image for final usage. Where now ready to apply a background, kicked the curves around a bit, etc.
Back in the old days of version 2.x we had to make all of our hair fine tuning and adjustments by hand. It is not that big a deal once you understand the process. I’ve gone ahead and included some of my old tutorials it in this section, although it’s really not needed now because of the quality attributes built into version 4.0 of Easy Green Screen. Again all we are doing here is working with Masks. Because we are only working with masks we will not be affecting the original image. This is called non-destructive editing, through the use of adjustment layers. Typically this is how quality edits are done in Photoshop today. There will be other cases where you do need to work on the image directly, such as the healing brush and so on.
As you can see in the example right, I do have a slight green cast reflecting back into Kelly’s blonde hair. I will need to go around the edges and make a color adjustment to 4 or 5 small spots. There are several ways to do this. You can use the lasso tool, I like to make them all at one time, so I will use Quick Masks, then Select/Inverse.
After resolving the green cast in the hair, I will go ahead and touch-up the image as I would normally; adjust the curves, brightness & contrast, color, skin touch-ups as needed, etc. Whatever is the norm for you and your style.
You should really take your time here haste makes waste and patients pays off in the final outcome of a successful image.
Applying a Background
Damon has done a wonderful job with the insert background utility. His background utility uses algorithms and does the math for us, when configuring the background size. This can be quite time-consuming if left on our own and will get more in two image resizing later in this issue. But for now we will use the background utility built-in to Easy Green screen 4.0.
The top slider will resize our image proportionate to the background. The middle slider will move our image left to right and bottom slider will move our image up-and-down. Once you are happy with the image placement, click Close and Apply from the Easy Green Screen main menu. We can still move and tweak the background placement from within image after exiting the Easy Green Screen 4.0 menu, should we find the need too.
Backgrounds are available virtually any place today. You can buy stock photos individually you can buy collections on DVD from eBay or other sites around the Internet. I like to take my own pictures and use them as backgrounds. I sometimes make my own from composites of several images. I have on occasion used images photographed by friends, with their permission, of course. Images found on the Internet are generally copy-written and illegal to use for our purposes.
Licensing Agreements on Digital Background images are another thing you need to pay attention too! Usually – the best, allow full commercial and privet usage rights once you apply your new top image. Not all licensing agreements are the same, know what you are buying! I would not recommend taking images off the Internet for several reasons. First the resolution is too low, we only want High Resolutions images for our purposes. Next it’s my understanding the photographer always retains the copyright (in America) until s/he sells or leases the image rights to you. For additional details on this, consult a competent Copyright Attorney in your area.
Selecting the proper background image is an art form in itself!! All of the tutorials I have read usually suggest you compose your image so that the feet are not in the final image. This certainly helps and may be something you would wish to follow in the beginning.. http://ezgreenscreen.com/