Traveling Through Digital Waters
• Lens selection: The type of lens used to capture the background should be the same used to capture the subject.
• Angle and quality of light: The subject should be lit to match the conditions of the background. Shadows, Balint says, can provide a lot of useful information.
• Position of the camera: “That’s a little harder to nail right on,” Balint cautions. “We assume that most of these backgrounds were [photographed] hand-held; that a normal-height person stood holding a camera and clicked. We’ve tried to keep that consistent, and we’ve created a fixed distance to our models.”
The thumbnail images of every shot are displayed on a monitor for everyone on site to consider. Corrections and re-takes happen immediately.
Once Magellan’s signs off on the shots, Balint and his team hit the computers—a network of Apple G3 workstations—to pull the images and the layout together. First, the model image is masked using Ultimatte KnockOut. Several masking applications are available, but Balint found Ultimatte’s solution to be the most seamless and precise. Once masked, the model is dropped into Adobe Photoshop.
Scale is Balint’s next consideration. “If the size isn’t just right, the illusion is blown,” he says. To achieve the correct scale, he compares a landmark’s length in the background to a feature of known length on the model: an eight-inch brick to the model’s nine-inch foot. “Then it’s a matter of fine-tuning the lighting using the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop: If the model looks a little flat in the sunny background, I’ll dodge in some highlights on the sunny side, or conversely burn in the shadows. And then add the shadows on the ground using all the tools in [the application],” Balint explains.
He saves the composed image, pre-CMYK, pre-sharpened, “So that if the client has any concerns, we can go back and change things without destroying the file.”