Chroma key, or blue-screen, software is used by photographers and filmmakers to manipulate images by replacing a single color background with another image taken at a separate location or created digitally. It is an essential tool used by all major movie production companies, but it can also be of value to anyone who has a passion for photography and film.
The actual process underpinning this technology has been used since the 1940s, though the software that is in use today is very different than the processes that were once common place. Originally the technique was referred to as Traveling Matte Composite, though now it is more commonly referred to as blue screen or green screen.
Most often, a blue or green backdrop is used, as these colors are the furthest shades from natural skin tones. This is an important concept, as all the backdrop would need to be edited out of a picture or frame without a loss in the focal image.
With new developments in digital photography and computer applications, this type of editing can be carried out by anyone who has a basic understanding of computer programs. The post production process involves the use of the program to key-out everything in the image that is above or below a certain color brightness. This is a mostly automated process, you do not need to have studied photography or film-making to master the technique.
As the technology becomes widespread, so has the number of options of chroma key software. Most of the photo editing suites that are used today, such as Photoshop, Gimp, and Movie Maker have plug-ins available that can be used for chroma key processing. If you love to take photos of your friends, family, and everyday scenes, this application can be used to generate images that are unique and interesting.
Before investing in any special photo or video editing applications, it is important to understand that what you are buying is of value to you. As there are numerous blue-screen applications you can use, it can be productive to spend time comparing how the various products features differ. If you want to play around with images and videos on your own PC, spending hundreds of bucks on a comprehensive software may not be the best choice. It can also be worthwhile checking out the thoughts and opinions of professional photographers and filmmakers as to which applications they believe are the most desirable, and which should be avoided.