Continued Evolution of our Virtual Reality Set
Everyone is familiar with the greenscreen system that allows the television weather person to stand in front of his or her weather maps. Those maps are not actually there. The weather person stands in front of a blue or green wall and the computer replaces everything of that color with the image of the weather maps. This is called chromakeying. Our system does basically the same thing. We remove all the original backdrop color and you get to replace it with the background of your choice from our virtual background library.
Many people have asked about the blue floor. The backstory is that we experimented with full length chromakeying, but the parents (and I) hated it. An automated system simply can't extract a gymnast from the original images and place her in front of a backdrop and have her look natural. There are no contextual clues to "tie her" into the virtual backgroun. She invariably looks like she is floating in the air in front of the backdrop. We solved that issue by photographing a gymnast where she looks the most normal, on a blue floor. Occasionally, though, I hear from parents who want the floor removed. That is possible, but for her to look right, more editing must be done. The background itself has to be modified since it will then have to do double duty as backdrop and background. Then shadows have to be added. It simply something that one of our artists has to do manually. There is a $20 editing fee for each image/background combination we prepare.
In speaking with a mom this week about her daughter's images, however, she asked if I could make the floor black. I didn'g give that much thought because a black floor would tend to look strange (true black has no detail or texture in it. Overnight, however, I realized the we could modify the color of the floor to coordinate with either the backdrop or a color in the leotard. I never considered this idea because the blue carpet is the quintessential look of gymnastics . . . or it used to be. In the last several years, I have seen pink floors, maroon floors, beige floors, and gray floors. Gymnastics has gone psychedelic! So, we have decided to go with the trend. Not only does it keep all the context clues telling the viewer that your gymnast was actually on that floor, but it saves you money. This is a much easier edit to do than trying to make a gymnast realistically look like she is part of the backdrop scene. We tried it, and she loved it. The total cost to her for the edit was only $7.50. Thanks, Lee Ann, for pushing me to think outside of the box.
So, as of today, you have another option in your arsenal to customize your gymastics portraits!