Photo Booth and the bogus background

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Reader David Voros assumes blame for something that is largely out of his control. He writes:

I just installed Leopard and started to play with it. While using Leopard’s Photo Booth I selected one of the video options that puts a moving background behind me. The message on the screen tells me to move out of the picture, which I did. The screen then says it has detected a background and that message then disappears. I come back into the picture to sit at my desk and the video backdrop that I picked is now intermixed with the real backdrop. In other words it seems that by coming back into the picture I have screwed up the video back drop. What am I doing wrong?

It appears that you have committed the unpardonable sin of not contrasting enough with the real scenery behind you. The truth of it is that this feature—in my and, apparently, your, experience—simply doesn’t work well. To get clean separation between the virtual background and your real face, you want the portions of your body that appear in the frame to contrast as much as possible with the real background.

For example, position yourself in front of a completely green or blue background and then drop out of the frame. As long as you’re not wearing green or blue clothing, the cutout should be decent. (There’s a reason Hollywood uses green and blue screens for this kind of masking.) Regrettably, few of us live and work in areas that have completely green and blue walls. If you’re among the many who don’t and your computer/camera are portable, try to scope out an area that does provide the kind of stark contrast you need to make this feature work as well as possible. And if you don’t have that luxury (you’re using an iMac with built in iSight, for example), cross your fingers that Apple tweaks this feature with OS X 10.5.1.

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