Photography Backgrounds: Chroma Key / Green Screen
Chroma key is still a new concept to many photographers. This style of background is more commonly known as Green Screen, and made it’s major break through in Hollywood productions. Chroma Key backgrounds use digital imaging and editing processes to take a standard shade single color background and remove it with out the need for selecting, cutting, or pasting. By removing the background this leaves your subject able to be placed in front of any background that you want.
Chroma key backgrounds, often called digital backgrounds, are the newest in the long line of photography backgrounds. These backgrounds require only a single green sheet (usually muslin), although many photographers keep a green screen and a blue screen, as a background and post render any background you want. Since all backgrounds are rendered in photo manipulation programs such as Photoshop, there is no need for a large array of separate backgrounds, thus severely reducing the amount of space needed to maintain a photography studio. Making this the ideal choice for photographers with little space or little fiances to purchase various backgrounds.
Because the entirety of the chroma key backgrounds is done post shoot, the photographer can not only change the background but also try out several different backgrounds to find one that works the best. All of which can be done while editing the photo. Also a photographer can adjust a single background without affecting the model. Since most programs come with chroma key engines, filters, and the like using a chroma key background barely adds time to post productions, but severely reduces the amount of time needed to shoot by eliminating background changes.
One of the greatest advantages to chroma key backgrounds is the cost of the backgrounds. Assuming that you already have Photoshop or another comparable photo manipulation program, the only cost for using these backgrounds is either purchasing a green/blue screen or paint to use as the prime background. Both of which can be found usually under $100. The rest of your backgrounds will usually be kept in a cache of PSD files.
Chroma key is difficult at first. It doesn’t matter what program or skills you have, it takes time and a fair amount of technical knowledge to use chroma key backgrounds. This means that those who are not that adept at Photoshop should avoid using these screens. It also takes practice to learn exactly how to shoot a green/blue screen adequately for the program to register a green screen.
Another disadvantage to this type of background does not necessarily come from the background itself, but rather from your subject. It may take some explaining and coxing to convince models to do a green screen shoot, especially if they are paying you. This is because many people are not yet able to fully comprehend the abilities of a green/blue screen. If you are going to shoot with strictly chroma key backgrounds, you want to make sure that you have samples of your work to help ease your subjects worries. Also you should probably keep at the very least a black and white background on hand for those who are adamantly opposed to the idea.