NOTE: This is an older article is from 2015. There is now a much simpler dedicated system for automating sports compositions. The new software is caller Sports Photo Automation. Can can see details about it HERE.
The Hot Folder program shown in this tutorial is still available and is a very powerful program. However, Hot Folder is a more advanced program designed for skilled Photoshop users. The user can set up any custom workflow through the use of Photoshop actions in Hot Folder. The Sports Photo Automation software in the link above is simpler and doesn't require Photoshop actions. If you are not an advanced Photoshop user then the Sports Photo Autmation program is recommended instead of Hot Folder.
The batch processing method shown in this tutorial requires Photoshop, EZ Green Screen, and the Hot Folder batch processor. You can get Hot folder at www.pixnub.com/hot-folder-photoshop-plugin/
If you want to batch process ONLY the image extraction using Photoshop's image processor, then see our video on the tutorials page showing how to do that. However, if you want to learn how to batch process the ENTIRE workflow then read the tutorial shown below. Just know that this workflow does require features that are only contained in Hot Folder.
This video shows a sports poster being created in 78 seconds. This is an example of automating everything. This includes opening the image, extracting the green screen (Dual Mask EZ Green Screen), copying the extraction into the poster, re-sizing, moving, entering the text for the name, saving, closing, and opening the next image for the batch process. This ALL happens in 78 seconds!
For the first time ever, Dual Mask can be ran in batch automation thanks to Hot Folder's NEW ability to pause between actions without stopping the batch processing! Using Hot Folder is the ONLY way to batch processing using the Dual Mask feature in EZ Green Screen.
EZ Green Screen uses a unique software algorithm. If you make a quick selection around the hair prior to extraction, it can optimize the 2 areas differently. This is not just to get more detail in the hair. It also allows EZ Green Screen to clean up the edges outside of the hair region with affecting the hair. The samples below are from the image that was extracted in the 78 second demo video. The samples below is unedited and are the exact results from the video. Notice how clean the edges are around th skin and clothing. Also see how the hair retains a nice feather edge that doesn't look "cut and pasted". This level of detail is made possible with EZ Green Screen's dual mask software algorithm. Best of all, it only takes a few seconds to lasso around the hair.
The work flow that I use is pretty simple. I batch process 3 actions using Hot Folder.
1. The first action is set up to crop only, nothing else. The action is setup with the show dialog box checked so I can adjust the crop location or rotate the image. If you shoot with the green screen covering the entire frame then you can skip this step. However, I find it's better to keep the screen smaller because it creates less green spill. For that reason, I choose to shoot with a smaller green screen set up and then crop each image.
2. The second action is setup to extract the image with EZ green Screen (action is recorded for dual mask processing). In Hot Folder, I have it pause before this action is ran. This allows me to lasso around the hair to enable the dual mask extraction. I also have Hot Folder set up to pause after the image is extracted. That way, I can touch up the mask if needed.
3. The last action is setup to open the background and then move the extracted image into the new background. There are also steps in the action setup with the show dialog box checked where I can scale or move the foreground and change the player's name. The action DOES NOT need to be setup to close the image. Hot Folder will automatically close the current image and look for the original green screen image to close. This way it will close both images automatically before opening the next green screen image.
First, you don't need to setup your actions exactly like I do. You will have their own workflow needs based on the specific job that you are doing. Hot Folder is very powerful in that it can be adapted to whatever workflow that you need. Experiment and use whatever works for you!
Here are the action steps that I used for the actions in this tutorial.
Action 1 - Crop
Step 1 - Crop (Show Dialog Box Checked)
Action 2 - Remove Green Screen
Step 1 - EZ Green Screen dual mask (lasso around hair before recording).
Action 3 - Composition
Step 1 - Merge Visible
Step 2 - Select All
Step 3 - Copy
Step 4 - Open PSD template file
Step 5 - Select layer where player goes
Step 6 - Paste
Step 7 - Scale (Show Dialog Checked) - You can also move and rotate during this step
Step 8 (optional) - Unsharp Mask or Smart Sharpen (I like to sharpen a little after scaling)
Step 9 - Select Text layer For First Name
Step 10 - Edit Text (Show Dialog Checked)
Step 11 - Select Text layer For Last Name
Step 12 - Edit Text (Show Dialog Checked)
Hot folder is pretty intuitive to setup. You can set it up to run up to 12 actions. It can also be setup to pause between the actions. You specify where to save (only once is needed for this workflow). Hot folder runs the steps left to right, top to bottom just like reading a book. For the processing I show in the video, I have it pause 3 times. The first pause is before the EZ Green Screen action runs. This allows me to pre-lasso the hair so it extracts with the dual mask algorithm. The second pause is after the green screen extraction so I can touch up the mask if needed. The 3rd pause is at the end right before saving. This allows me to finalize any positioning or make additional touch-ups. The save is checked at the end.
Also, you don't need to close the images in your actions. Hot folder will automatically close the final image that you are in (in this case the composition). It will also look for the original image that it opened and close it (in this case the green screen image). So for this process workflow it will close both images before opening the next green screen image.
Article written by: Damon Bell