Thursday, January 13, 2011

Look! I'm on TV!

January 11, 2011.  I had my first image make it onto a popular Canadian Network TV show, broadcasted around the country.  It must have a piece of work exhibiting my keen artistic talent, showing signs of great skill, blah blah blah, right? 

hahaha.. you will have to hit the jump if you want to know whats going on here.

photo from Wikipedia
Rick Mercer, maybe some of you have heard of him?  I first remember watching him on "This Hour Has 22 Minutes".  For the last several years however, he has had his own show - "The Rick Mercer Report".  I would consider it like a Colbert Report for Canadian Politics. Although he is out and about far more often than he is indoors and sitting down. Regardless - very funny show. Anyone who is familiar with it may know about the photo challenges they have every month.

I've seen the products of these "Photo Challenges" before.  I had a basic idea in mind, but certainly didn't think it out too far ahead, other than "this guys face is goin on a funny lookin' body".  Click here to go to the RMR Archives from this year. You can see mine, and many many more like it.

Although I never put something like this together, I knew the techniques I would need to know, and was familiar with them from use in other types of photos. Following is the technique I used to create an image like this one.

[SORRY - ORIGINAL IMAGE HAS BEEN LOST, AND HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO FIND DURING MY NOVEMBER 2012 UPDATE OF IMAGE LINKS - TRY THE RMR WEBSITE!]

THE HOW-TO PART
There are a few things to consider when merging visual aspects from two different photos in an attempt to make a seamless hybrid.  In many ways you could compare the considerations you must make, to those for a stitched panorama shot.

Match size first. the RMR photo was of a much higher resolution than my suspect with the dog (the host photo we will call it).  So to avoid losing image quality, always downsize the larger piece to match the smaller piece. (instead of upsizing the smaller one).  To get an approximate size match, I made Baird's head a seperate layer on my host image. Drop the opacity to 50% and have the eyes overlap. Get them to a similar size.

Next, orient this Baird's head to match our host's head.. In this particular case, it involved a horizontal flip so instead of facing left off of the computer screen, he faces right. Then I did a little rotation to have as clean an overlap on the outer cheek area as possible. Not a necessary step, just a personal preference.

Now, for the semi-complicated part. Color Matching. Which actually involves matching each channel of the image (usually red green and blue in a standard RGB JPEG image).  This is not easily explained through words alone. I'm not one to back down from a challenge, so here goes the Cole's Notes version.  Basic understanding of a semi-pro image processor is necessary here.
Starting with red channel, on Baird's head layer, I will do a level's adjustment using only the center slider. My image should appear to be in greyscale only. All I want is to move the "Level's Adjustment" center-slider so that the gray of Baird's head matches the gray of his host.  Do this again, once each in the green channel and the blue channel after you've finished the red channel. Go back to the full color, RGB view, and the skin color of your host and Mr. Baird's head should form a seamless relationship.

Of course, you will likely still see some solid lines where one image layer lies on top of another. The finishing touches involves a little painting, or moreso - erasing. With a soft (as in not very hard edged) eraser, get rid of the excess image data around Mr. Baird's head. Aside from the forehead wrinkles in my image, I would think that it is very hard to pick out where the layers are blended together.  You should be able to achieve this effect.

and that's about all there is to it!  Just make sure you pick an appropriate host image.  Look especially at the orientation of the face. If its a head on portrait, you can't very well place that on a semi-profile'd portrait. The human eye will notice instantly that something is off there. I will be sure to post any more that I submit for the Mercer Report in the future!

Have fun! Just don't incriminate anyone for doing something or being somewhere they definitely weren't!!