Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Virtual Backgrounds system?
The Virtual Backgrounds system is a precision optical flash projector that is designed to mate with most film or digital professional cameras. Any photographic transparency and a variety of other light modifiers can be inserted into the projector to create an infinite variety of background images on a special ultra-reflective screen positioned behind the subject. The background is captured on film at the exact same moment the subject is captured. Instead of having a few old canvas backgrounds, muslins, expensive "sets" or having to go out into the unpredictable environment, the Virtual Backgrounds user has the convenience of just one single background screen and the ability to instantly create an infinite variety of complementary backgrounds ranging from total realism to the absolute surrealistic. The Virtual Backgrounds system enables the photographer to offer a whole new level of creative photography without leaving the studio and at a price the customer can afford. These systems are manufactured by Virtual Backgrounds, located in San Marcos, Texas and are used by professional photographers throughout the world.

Why do I need a Virtual Backgrounds system for my studio?
Most photographers want to be distinctively different from their colleagues in the products they offer the public and they want to be highly creative. At the same time, the public wants distinctive new ideas in the professional photography they purchase. They don't want yesterday's photography today. And, the photographer wants to make money and have fun doing it.. The Virtual Backgrounds user has the potential to fulfill these needs and more. It enables the photographer to be distinctively different in ways that are clearly recognized by the public and it enables the photographer to provide the public with a style of product that is truly innovative, profitable and fun to do.

What is the learning curve associated with using a Virtual Backgrounds system?
Ordinary studio photography is really quite simple to learn. Most retail studios train their new photographers to do standard head and shoulder photography in just a few days. The use of Virtual Backgrounds opens up entirely new dimensions that require a greater level of photographer expertise. This involves the selection of appropriate backgrounds, the selection of props, and the proper posing of the subject in more than simple poses.

The technical issues associated with the system are no greater than those associated with using a professional camera. Photographers who haven't used background projection often start out using it for one or two segments of their business such as children or senior portraiture. Then, like any other tool they may use in the studio, realize it becomes second nature and expand the use of their system to other segments, like groups, commercial and special events. In fact, they will find their customers requesting Virtual Backgrounds before long.

There are really very few restrictions when using Virtual Backgrounds except for the imagination of the photographer. The system is a highly creative tool which works best in the hands of creative photographers who are willing to break with tradition.

How much space do I need to use a Virtual Backgrounds system?
Many photographers think that they can't use a Virtual Backgrounds because their camera room space is so limited. In reality, the smaller your studio space, the more you need the system. Really large studios have room for setting up entirely different sets that the subject is photographed in. Of course, Virtual Backgrounds are an infinitely more efficient way to inject variety into a sitting. But, when you have a very small studio, you don't have room for as much variety unless you use Virtual Backgrounds. Then, one single screen becomes a whole world of backgrounds. Let's imigine that your camera room is but 9 feet wide and just 10 feet deep. With a Virtual Backgrounds system, the variety that can be created in that very tight space is unlimited. Small space is indeed when the system is most needed to enable the photographer to make maximum use of that limited space.

Is the system portable?
Very much so. Many Virtual Backgrounds photographers take the system on location to photograph proms, other special events, or to operate in a remote location studio. Two San Antonio photographers have a total of 12 Scene Machines with which they capture the best proms in the city. Whereas all of our systems are portable, one may be better suited for your exact needs. Contact us and we'll be sure you get the system that is right for you.

What is the difference between the Virtual Backgrounds system and “green screen” type of electronic backgrounds?
The Virtual Backgrounds system is an optical background projection system. It is relatively inexpensive, simple to use, and extremely effective in quickly producing high quality perfectly realistic results. Blue screen, also known as green screen, chromakey and electronic backgrounds is a comparatively expensive and complex electronic process that superimposes a background in a digitized scene. This means the photographer must be using a digital camera or the film must be digitized after processing. The results are very effective for television work such as the evening weather cast but the results are more limited for producing studio portraits. However, the Virtual Backgrounds system can project a blue screen or green screen or whatever color screen desired. A patent has been awarded on this approach. This development means that your Virtual Backgrounds system can be used for generating optical backgrounds and electronic backgrounds. For a comparison chart click here.

Do I have to change my lighting to use a Virtual Backgrounds system?
Generally no. Unless you position your fill light directly behind your camera, and most photographers do not do that, you'll probably continue to light just as you always have, although with the system, you will probably want to be more creative with your lighting to match the scene you are creating. Many photographers using the system add barndoors and louvers to their lighting so they can be even more creative. With the new screen, there are virtually no restrictions on lighting.

Can I create my own background slides?
Absolutely. This is one of the best parts of using a Virtual Backgrounds system. Everywhere you go, you can take your camera and capture the best the environment has to offer and bring it home to be used in your studio whenever you wish. Vacations become background slide safaris. You can also photograph local institutions like your schools, churches, monuments, etc. to use as special promotions. Of course, we also offer more than 1000 generic stock slides. Your customers want variety to choose from. The more variety you provide them, the happier they will be with your product. Part of that variety starts with the traditional look obtained with canvas or muslin or both. But, with a Virtual Backgrounds system, you can project the canvas or muslin look. You don't have to buy them. You may even want to photograph your current canvas backgrounds so you can project them and then you can sell them. Keep in mind that you can also project high key white, total black, or any color of the spectrum. More variety spells more customer satisfaction which translates to more profit. It's that simple.

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