Cinematte review

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

  • Price When Reviewed: 105

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Cinematte is a blue or green screen cutout plug-in for Photoshop that creates natural-looking composites for superimposition over any new background image, or a pure white background.

You just need to photograph your subject in front of a standard blue or green screen. The image is imported into Photoshop as a foreground layer over the desired background, and then you open Cinematte to remove the blue or green backdrop. If you adjust it carefully, it can maintain fine edge details, hair, and even motion-blurred elements. It will work with semi-transparent elements like smoke, glass, and water, though this requires a near-perfect blue or green background.

The Windows version of Cinematte has been around for years, with a good reputation, but the Mac OS X version only shipped recently. The box dates back to 1996 and the Mac installation instructions consist of a photocopied sheet. However, the printed manual is very good, with clear explanations of the software, the concepts of shooting blue screen for stills, and how to edit Photoshop’s layer masks.

Cinematte’s automation is good, and can often achieve a perfect result without adjustment. It attempts to remove blue or green elements automatically while leaving everything else either solid or transparent (for edges plus hair and other elements that have to let the background show through). Unwanted green or blue colour spills are removed.
However, the manual control set is good if you need it – better than the standard Extract cutout filter in Photoshop. You can fine-tune the black (solid) and white (transparency) part of the matte, and the gamma (edges). You can choke or spread the matte edges.

Output is a cutout matte with a choice to simply delete the backdrop or to output an editable transparency channel that you can optionally turn into an alpha channel or clipping path. A bit of manipulation lets you create outline glows and drop shadows.

Officially, the maximum file size is 20MB, but our copy worked well, if a little slower, on a 50MB test image. Cinematte works well and is good value, but Digital Anarchy’s Primatte Chromakey 2.0 just has the edge.

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