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This chapter is from the book Creating Backdrops Using Photoshop

Creating Backdrops Using Photoshop

One method we highly recommend to create photo-based backdrops is to use panoramic photography (Figure 5.35). While on location shooting or when scouting locations, you should capture multiple photos of your intended shooting locations. This will give you great flexibility if you ever need to do a pickup shot or could even allow for location work without having to send talent.

Figure 5.35 Multiple photos were combined to create a larger panoramic image. This allowed for greater flexibility when compositing.

Panoramic photography is the practice of shooting multiple photos and then stitching them into a larger photo. If enough photos are taken, a large panoramic image can be made. These photos can then be brought into After Effects to serve as a backdrop for chroma key footage.

Recent improvements to how Photoshop processes panoramic photos make the postproduction tasks so simple there’s no excuse not to use a panoramic photo.

Merging Photos

Let’s try piecing together a panoramic photo. This particular shot is composed of 14 exposures that were captured at Red Rocks outside Las Vegas, Nevada. To merge the photos, use the Photoshop Automation command, Photomerge.

  1. Launch Adobe Photoshop, and then choose File > Automate > Photomerge. Photomerge is a specialized “mini-application” within Photoshop that assists in combining multiple images into a single photo.
  2. Click the Browse button and navigate to the Chapter_05_Media folder. Open the folder 03_Panos, and then open the folder Red Rock Pano. These folders contain 14 images; the originals were much higher resolution but have been compressed to save space for this lesson.
  3. Press Command+A to select all the pictures in the folder and click Open.
  4. Several Layout options are available that attempt to fix problems caused by panoramic photography (such as distortion). A good place to start is Auto, which attempts to align the images but will bend them as needed (Figure 5.36).
  5. Figure 5.36 The Photomerge command offers a specialized interface to control the merging of photos.

  6. Make sure the check boxes next to Blend Images Together, Vignette Removal, and Geometric Distortion Correction are selected. These three options will attempt to blend the edges of the photos together and can hide subtle differences in exposure.
  7. Click OK to build the panoramic image. Photoshop attempts to assemble the panorama based on your choices in the dialog. Due to the number of images, the process may take a few minutes (Figure 5.37).
  8. Figure 5.37 Photoshop detects edges and creates a gentle blend between each exposure.

  9. When completed, inspect the new document closely. If you’re satisfied, choose Layer > Flatten Image.
  10. Crop the image using the Crop tool (C) as needed to remove any fringe or rough edges.
  11. Adjust the image using a Levels and a Vibrance adjustment (for both choose Image > Adjustments) (Figure 5.38).
  12. Figure 5.38 The cropped panoramic photo works well as a flexible backdrop for keying tasks.

The resulting image is ready for use in any of the compositing applications discussed in this chapter. You can bring the files into Final Cut Pro, Motion, or After Effects. Simply save it as an uncompressed format such as TIFF or PICT.

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