Anyone who's used photo-editing programs has no doubt experienced the frustration of removing a background from an image. It can be a painstaking process. But Dutch company StyleShoots has found a solution with its flagship product of the same name.
StyleShoots is a massive and impressive machine, taking up half a large room in order to work its magic. Powered by a Mac mini and controlled by an iPad, StyleShoots takes photos of any object and automatically removes the background from the resulting image. The process starts with the user placing an item needing to be photographed on the billiards-table-sized glass top. The glass is illuminated from below by thousands of LED lights that all blend together and diffused to give the illusion of one uniform light under the table. With that light, and the sunlight-mimicking lighting coming from the sides of the machine, the object is shot with the most natural appearance possible.
The user then engages the iPad controlling app to take a photo. A Canon 5D Mark II DSLR camera snaps the shot from above the tabletop, and each time two photos are taken and saved: one file is saved with the table as the background with the white lights visible from below the object on the table, and another that's processed with no background. The shooting style is called Auto Alpha and it takes multiple shots quickly and analyzes over 20 million pixels to leave you with a product shot with a totally transparent background. Immediately after the photos are taken, StyleShoots saves all files to your preferred device connected to the built-in USB drive on the side of the machine.
StyleShoots also has a few interesting features that make it more than just a background-eliminating machine. The overlay feature, for example, allows users to take an initial image a shirt or other item, and use that as a benchmark for subsequent images. Another feature allows the user to eschew the default white background in favor of a custom background, which can also be saved in the iPad application.
While StyleShoots offers an innovative and easy solution to a common issue in design and photography, the solution, of course, does not come without a price tag. The machine retails for $80,000, which is a hefty price for independent companies but a money-saving investment for brands with an enormous inventory. Maurits Teunissen and Bartel Huibregtsen, the founders and creators of StyleShoots, have already coordinated with companies like Marks & Spencer, Perry Ellis and Tommy Hilfiger, which have started using StyleShoots to speed up their work processes. But to make the machine more widely accessible, the company rents out its showrooms with StyleShoots for $250 an hour.
StyleShoots' time-saving potential is staggering. Photo and design projects that previously took days or weeks to complete could be finished in hours with StyleShoots. Teunissen and Huibregtsen developed StyleShoots because they needed an easier way to work with images for their original software company. What started as a side project took over their business, and now StyleShoots has the potential to take over and simplify a step of the production process for photographers and designers.
Images courtesy of StyleShoots