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The best way to blend hairs on background change.

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Old 10-20-2009, 12:52 PM
ray12's Avatar
ray12 ray12 is offline
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Re: The best way to blend hairs on background chan

Hi Snook,

We dont regularly use the channel or the layer extraction techniques any longer. In this economic environment, we have needed to be able to do precision hair extractions in minutes preferably...rather than the 45 minutes we used to take with channel masking.

Channel masking was the best we had for a while...but we almost always found ourselves "over doing it" on the fine edges...and then... wanting to start all over again because we ended up creating white halo edges, blurs, and ugly looking matte clumps at the edges of the hair.

Today we use a different technique... using slate gray backgrounds as we said in the last post. That helps us get rid of all the color contamination issues created by the overly lit and overly saturated blue and green screens.

Also, MisterMonday hit it right on the head...No matter how you cut it...blonds are more tricky because their hair is translucent... and the cutout colors actually get colored into the hair itself. To fix that problem we had to create hair repair yes it always takes longer to do blond hair.

In response: Here is a link to a video clip showing how the hair is cut out... not using the channel or layer masking techniques to get those fine edges. Sometimes its clearer to show it... rather than to try to describe it in words. Use the full screen to see it better.


Last edited by ray12; 10-20-2009 at 01:35 PM.
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Old 10-21-2009, 08:14 AM
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snook305 snook305 is offline
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Re: The best way to blend hairs on background chan

Thanks ray, you ate one of the most helpful people here.. I personally will try fluid mask but do not usually like plug ins b/c usually they still need fine tuning anyaways which makes it more diffcicult if you do not have a mask to work with...?

Could you throw up a blonde girl and try it, do you think fluid mask would work better with a darker back ground on a blonde girl? darker than slate grey , maybe a darker grey?
Just coriuos as I am pretty happy with the katrina eissman technique but yes blondes are always harder!!!!
Thanks a lot for taking the time to do the video screen cast!
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Old 10-21-2009, 03:14 PM
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Cyberek Cyberek is offline
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Re: The best way to blend hairs on background chan

ray12 - thanks for the video. Didn't know, that fluid mask does so great job. I have tryed it back in the days, but it was afair 2.x version, and results wasn't good. Have to try the plugin again.

snook305 - any link to "katrina eissman technique" you have mentioned?
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Old 10-27-2009, 04:19 AM
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Greg Curran Greg Curran is offline
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Location: Whitby, ON, Canada
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Re: The best way to blend hairs on background chan

I use a lot of "hair brushes" as well as the techniques mentioned above, you can do a search for them and download most for free, or even create your own.
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Old 10-27-2009, 10:08 AM
ray12's Avatar
ray12 ray12 is offline
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Re: The best way to blend hairs on background chan

Hi Snook,

No thanks on cutting out a blond! LOL

I have enjoyed Katrin's masking method for years...but recently I have mostly abandoned using "Channel Contrast" masking because it easily takes me 30-60 minutes for each mask...and then when im done finessing the fine edges...I usually end up "over working" the edges... and I end up feeling like starting the mask all over again quite often. I also used to have problems with halos on the edges of fine hair, fringing, black or white matting, and having the hair clump up when placed over different background colors. Channel Masking does seem to still be good for coarse detail hair or fairly smooth edged hair... but it often lacked the precision on very whispy fine detail cutouts and it had these overlay problems.

Yes, You are totally right with using a darker background for cutting out blonds.

There are 3 things that hair cutting software needs to work well. It needs a "luminance or brightness difference" between the hair and background to tell where the background ends and the hair begins. It would also like to have a "color difference" to work against... to differentiate between the background color and the hair color. And it wants to be able to detect a texture change if possible. If you can give the software 2 or 3 transition "Clues" to work does pretty good.

So... we have ended up using a very dark royal blue background for blond models. The darkness allows the blond "brightness" to stand out, the blueness color gives it some good color difference to work with (blue and yellow are opposite on the color wheel - so they create great color difference for detection) and the smoothness of the background gives it some edge transition detail to be able to spot and identify the hair. Any strong texture component in the background will confuse the software because the hair is also the software doesnt know When to start or stop the edge detection without a smooth background. With this combination we get pretty good consistent results with blond cutouts. This combination of factors might also be photographically helpful in creating some pretty good "channel mask" Clues to create visual separation in the channels as well

The TV grade blue and green screens out today are just too bright, too saturated, and create so much colored spill and color contamination that we have moved away from using them. They were great for television because the TV sensors were fairly low res compared to our DSLR's today. So today we use the slate gray background for precision black, brown and red hair cutting...and the very dark blue for cutting out blonds.

Also, if your images are not shot in the studio with helpful separation elements... real life (in the wild) cutouts can be quite a challenge because they often do not have the best brightness separation in all spots, the color separation may not be there, and the competing and conflicting background textures can create quite a havoc (try to cut hair shot against trees!). So yes... start your collection of hair edge brushes... to patch out and repair the bad spots.

Its real easy to have a bad hair day...when doing detail masking!


Last edited by ray12; 10-27-2009 at 10:14 AM.
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