On average, how long does it take you to mask and process a single frame?

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pegot
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On average, how long does it take you to mask and process a single frame?

Post by pegot » Fri Jan 06, 2017 8:59 pm

I’m quoting on a large project for client that could potentially involve up to 62 object movies - with an initial 6-12 product spins to start with.

I have done object movies for other clients in the past, but these were just for a single product (usually integrating them into a presentation or specific marketing campaign).

I loosely calculate masking and processing up to 24 frames per object, including set up and shooting, will take me 9hrs. per product.

If I charge my normal hourly rate the cost is quite high. I am just wondering how much time on average others here spend on masking, or do you not mask at all and try to shoot with a set up that has as seamless a background as possible?

If I charge my hourly rate (even with a discount added for such a large number of products) I think client will have sticker shock and balk. But of course I can not take a job where I lose money by spending too much time on it. So just wondering if, say, 20 - 25 minutes spent making a proper mask in Photoshop per frame is how long it takes others who do this commercially, or if maybe I am simply not quick or efficient enough (I do consider myself an experienced Photoshop user).

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Hopki
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Re: On average, how long does it take you to mask and process a single frame?

Post by Hopki » Sat Jan 07, 2017 12:01 pm

Hi pegot,
It is my experience that full time product photographers don't mask.
If you get the lighting right and use either Object2VR Pro or Studio which has the "Process Images" button then you can very quickly use the levels to blowout the background and recover contrast. Of course there are limits and lighting is absolutely the key.

In my office I have a white and black back drops and lights, when testing Object2VR it does not take me long to get to a point where the background is almost removed without image processing, then on the odd frame just give it a tweak.

I have a pin head sized dot in the middle of my table so even centring the object is quick and of course if I get it slightly out, dewobble corrects that.
Also dark objects on white background and light objects on black.

If your customers want anything different then getting a good contest between object and background also helps no end for cutting out the background in PS.
Of course I don't do this as a full time job and others may be able to answer your question in more depth but for me it just makes sense to get the lighting right and get it sorted in camera first, then the rest is very quick.
Regards,
Hopki

pegot
Posts: 11
Joined: Mon Oct 14, 2013 3:35 pm

Re: On average, how long does it take you to mask and process a single frame?

Post by pegot » Sun Jan 08, 2017 6:26 pm

Thanks Hopki, that helps a lot!

sigurd.eliassen
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Re: On average, how long does it take you to mask and process a single frame?

Post by sigurd.eliassen » Tue Jan 10, 2017 12:43 pm

I use After Effects for the post processing. It works with raw files (if you're shooting raw), allowing you to do a lot of development in the import process. I make a sequence where the images are spread out. The beauty here is that the vector mask can be animated. I draw a rough mask in the first frame, then jump to the middle frame. If necessary, I refine the mask in this frame. Now, this change in the mask is animated through the sequence. I now look at the quarter position (the middle of the starting point and the half-way point), and make changes IF needed. The keyframe for the first frame is copied to the last frame. After all, these images are nearly identical.

With the mask set, you have a number of options. I usually add an adjustment layer with a levels effect to blow out the highlights outside the object. The beauty here is the feathering of the mask, giving you a smooth transition. This also means you don't get any strobing or other artifacts between frames, since everything is smoothed. As Hopki says, it's all about the light, and done right, you don't need the traditional Photoshop mask to do this. However, the method described over only takes a couple of minutes to set up once you got the hang of it, and the result is great. I do this while my motorized turntable photographs the next object :) If you've never used AE, it might be a little confusing, though. If you're trying, just remember to keep all sequence settings at 1 fps. The default 30 fps will give you 30 copies of each picture.

Understanding histograms and color values is absolutely critical if you're going to do this professionally. I'm not saying that you don't, I'm just saying there's a lot of "white" backgrounds out there typically in the 235-250 range :) There's nothing wrong having "near white" close to the object (after all, that's what we call shadows), but the edges of the frame must always be pure 255.

Regards,
Sigurd

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