Friday, October 7, 2016

Creating Your Own Virtual Studios

Hey folks, Peter from LayerCake/StudioMagic. Have you ever wished you could instantly be transported to scenes that would make awesome environments for your subjects? Wait till you hear what Harry Kerker, President of LayerCake/StudioMagic has to share with us today. Here's Harry.

People ask me all the time, what’s the difference between virtual studios and backgrounds? Backgrounds have been around a long time; there are millions of them to choose from. They’re usually splashes of color, graphic designs or wallpaper patterns that were generally used as backdrops to spruce up portraits. Virtual studios are the product of the new compositing craze because the CutOut process has become so much easier with the advent of StudioMagic. I like to refer to them as little movie studios since they each tell a story about the subject that can’t be told with a tired old background.

Virtual Studios are everywhere!

If you walk out your front door right now, I guarantee you there’s a virtual studio out there waiting for you. All it takes is opening your eyes and to think a little bit differently about how you create images. There are hundreds of graffiti walls like this in every city. The Mission District in San Francisco has hundreds like this one. Remember to leave some foreground so you retain the image depth.

I recently visited Memphis, Tennessee, I parked my car and this wall was facing me. It took all of thirty seconds to add this alley to my collection. Some High-school senior will love this!

How about this wall covering a construction site?

Perfect for kids, look at how the ShadowCaster shadow anchors the kid’s feet to the street.

How many times have you walked into an ornamental garden like this and thought what a great place it would be to shoot a wedding? Unfortunately most weddings take place in sterile banquet halls so you have to drag the wedding party outside and grab what you can that’s green. Sometimes you get lucky; other times it’s dead and brown, or worse yet winter. If you had done a little creative thinking, you would have grabbed this shot like I did. Who cares if the sky is lifeless, I have StudioMagic and a great collection of LayerCake skies.

It took me longer to choose the right sky than it did to remove the old sky with my StudioMagic CutOut tool.

The bride? Photographed against the wall in the banquet hall kitchen! True story. So think outside the box… or in this case outside the kitchen. : )

How do I go about shooting my own virtual studios?

The most important thing to remember is to shoot promising locations at different heights, since you don’t know how they will be eventually used or what angle your subject will be shot at. So first shoot chest level, then low and high. Also remember it's nice to have some foreground in your shot, in the event that you want your subject to be full length from head to toe. Shooting your subjects should be the same, shoot multiple angels so you’ll have matching options that fit your virtual studios. By the way, remember not to worry about shadows, the ShadowCaster tool does an excellent job creating lifelike shadows that will tie the whole image together.

Sometimes you just have to leave it to us.

For those virtual studios that you just can’t grab on the street, check out our website for amazing virtual studios created by our imaginer Peter Hernandez!

Harry Kerker is the president and cofounder of LayerCake StudioMagic and can be reached at

Lean more about StudioMagic 1 & 2

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