ORBITVU USA BLOG
Product images with a white background or transparent background are important content for all eCommerce websites today. So how can you do this efficiently and cost-effectively?
In this episode of our photography automation insights we talk about and show you some of the specific features and benefits of Orbitvu Systems and Technologies in action and make Orbitvu so unique. One of the key features of automated systems is automatic background removal because this would save a lot of time on the back end, and significantly reduce budget needs for labor costs or clipping-path services etc.
How your creative team, technically handles background removal is important because you want a system that has the tools to be able to really dial in that background removal for products that may be difficult to work with; for example, products that have reflection or have transparency or even products that have some pure-white parts. What typically happens with an automated system, is that these things are mistaken for the background and they get removed. Which results in you having to deal with cleaning up the image in post-editing, which will add cost in time and labor to your process.
This episode of Orbitvu USA’s Automate to Elevate Series focuses on Orbitvu’s technology behind its IQ MASK feature – an intelligent approach to background approval. As mentioned in a previous episode – this feature is one which provides flexibility in the system so that regardless of the type of product that you are shooting you can get great results with automatic background removal for even the most difficult things.
Mark, Orbitvu USA’s Managing Director and Diego, Orbitvu USA’ Technical Director, use the ALPHASHOT XL PRO v2 to demonstrate this feature in the Orbitvu Station software. They shoot 3 different products in this episode; a simple black shoe, with no reflection, no white parts – so in theory a pretty simple product to capture and and remove the background. The second product the team shoots is a blue sneaker, but it has a pure white sole, making it a challenge to shoot a product image, because the typical system will see the white portion as background and try to remove it. The third and final product they shoot is the most difficult, a bottle of water! Seems like a simple task, but there is reflection, transparency and white parts to the product – so this is an extremely challenging product to capture and automatically remove the background. However, it’s a great test to see the power of Orbitvu’s automated background removal technology and compare it with any system that you may be considering investing in.
The ALPHASHOT XL Pro v2 is a great versatile machine to work with, it has a lot of creative control in terms of lighting but there are several optional accessories too, for example to work with light diffusion kits – which will help with reflective issues. More details of the product imaging systems can be found on our website: https://www.orbitvuusa.com/alphashot_xl/
This episode allows viewers to see how the Orbitvu Station software works, and how simplified the process of image capture really becomes when using Orbitvu. The first product is placed in the system and viewers can see a live view of what the camera is seeing, on their screens. A default even lighting template is used in this case to keep things simplified and to keep focused on the IQ MASK technology. It’s worthwhile pointing out though you can experiment and customize lighting as much as you want depending on what product you are shooting and the type of image you want to capture.
A product image is captured and displayed on the screen of the black shoe, very quickly and with the background removed clean. You can see how good a job of removing the background really is by changing the background color – this allows you to kind of preview the image and how it will look. On most products the default IQ MASK technology works very well. Going back to the software screen Diego and Mark, show where and how in the technology you can control the IQ MASK depending on the difficulty of the product. The left-hand side of the software has many controls. One of them is lighting and the other is IQ MASK set-up – so this is a separate lighting set-up and has nothing to do with the lighting you use to capture your image, as far as the way you want your image to look. This has to do with creating a mask, and the better the mask on the front end the better the background removal will be and save time on the back end. The objective here is to basically set some lighting so you can really see some defined edges so you can separate the product from the background and that is what begins that process of IQ MASK as the background removal technology. Once you have a good mask set-up for the product it can do a much better job of image capture and applying automatic background removal. This is more apparent with more difficult products. If needed, they show you how you can further tweak the mask to refine the results even more. Once you optimize the IQ Mask setting you can template the settings so you can recall the saved template and achieve quick and consistent results.
When they shoot the blue shoe, it’s a bit of a different story because it has a very white sole and what many systems will do – because they can’t really adjust or work the mask at time of image capture, is that the white sole is mistaken for the background and will be removed. Again, Diego uses the default template but again you can customize the lighting as much as you would want for the type of image you are trying to capture. He can also go into the IQ MASK lighting set-up and again works with the lights here so you can see more of the white of the shoe sole that will blend in the with background. The lighting is adjusted on the front end, so you really optimize and get a much better mask and a much better product shot with good background removal quickly. Once the IQ MASK is set, Diego captures the image and then checks to see how clean the background removal is. He tweaks the mask after capture to really tighten up the edge, so the white sole of the shoe is more defined. He checks by changing the background color that the image is clean, and the white sole does not disappear into the background. He again saves the template and then when in 6 months the shoe needs to be captured again, in another color perhaps – the set-up of the IQ MASK is all ready to go and this speeds up the automated workflow in capturing a product image again and again.
Shooting product images for a water bottle is always the supreme test because this is the most difficult product to capture when it comes to automatically removing a background. The ALPHASHOT XL Pro comes with diffusion panel options and anti-reflection kits so you can set up this system to really minimize reflection on a product image. However, the system can handle a lot even without these add-ons. Again, Diego uses a default lighting template called “transparent template” so these default settings with the Orbitvu software allows you to get further along in your work process and put you in a good place with good results in terms of background removal. Diego hits capture and lets you see how quickly the image is captured without loosing much of the bottle with just the default IQ MASK settings. With a little adjustment, Diego shows how quickly the mask can be optimized and set for background removal and demonstrates on colored backgrounds the quality of the picture that is captured. He templates the settings ready for capturing images another time in the future, showing you how quickly and efficiently you can be productive in capturing product images with automated background removal. This truly shows how flexible Orbitvu systems are and give you the best value when is comes to using tools like IQ MASK, so regardless of product type you are shooting you have a powerful tool to really improve your photography workflows.
Look out for more educational and technical videos from Orbitvu USA, where we’ll feature other technologies to address some of the imaging workflow issues and challenges product photographers face in 2020’s fast paced eCommerce world to have faster image productivity and consistent quality. If you have a particularly challenging product or issue that you would like to see us feature – shoot us an email!