By Neil Bennett | on August 23, 2007
Company: Digital Anarchy
Pros: Fast and efficient workflow. Works as Smart Filter. Light Wrap for more realistic comps.
Cons: Other tools better for tricky cutouts. Requires green/bluescreen shots.
Despite the addition of the Quick Selection cut-out tool to Photoshop CS3, there are still plenty of masking plug-ins available. Primatte Chromakey for Photoshop is one such tool. It provides the same results as all the other masking plug-ins, but has a quite different workflow.
This tool is based on the Primatte plug-in, which is available for compositing tools such as After Effects. It extracts people and objects that have been shot against green/bluescreen.
Using a greenscreen may seem unusual for still photography, but because the software is working with colour rather than paths, intricate and semi-transparent areas such as hair and shadow detail are left intact.
The core new tool in version 3.0 of Primatte is the Auto Mask, which offers one-click extraction based on a ‘best guess’ premise. As long as your model or object is well lit, this provides acceptable results – and you can tweak it afterwards if you wish. Coupled with the new support for Photoshop actions, you could batch process a full professional shoot’s worth of images very quickly.
The update also works as a Smart Filter, Photoshop CS3’s new system that allows you to go back and edit filters after you’ve applied them – which can be very useful if later compositing of your image reveals defects in the mask.
We were also impressed by the Light Wrap function, which mimics the reflection of background lighting on the edges of your mask, with controls over Radius and Brightness. This is an excellent addition for the creation of realistic-looking compositions. Digital Anarchy has also spruced up the interface and added support for Intel Macs.
Primate Chromakey for Photoshop CS3 is an excellent tool for designers working with large numbers of well-shot cutouts – catalogue designers will find it a godsend – though you or your photographer will have to invest in some greenscreen paint. If you need to extract people from more tricky backgrounds, we’d recommend OnOne’s Mask Pro instead.