Adobe is working on software to cut out the background from any photo

adobe research deep matte learning 64171312 m
Georgejmclittle / 123RF
Clipping out objects from photos and videos is often a time-consuming process — but Adobe is looking for new ways to change that with deep learning software. Published earlier this month, the research for Deep Image Mapping by Adobe, the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign aims to improve on software-based clipping solutions.

Researchers have developed a number of different artificially intelligent programs to automatically subtract a background from an image, but most are based on colors. When presented with an image with similar colors such as the greens in a landscape photo, those programs tend to fail, Adobe says. Similar applications also use a very narrow set of data points to train the software, the researchers say, which makes the system biased to only certain types of images.

Adobe’s latest method, however, relies on the structure of the objects in the photograph, not the colors. The program requires the image and a trimap, or a rough sketch of what should be cut from the image that labels the foreground, the background, and a range in between to enable the computer to find the edges.

The program works by learning the structure of alpha mattes, or the “color” channel that contains all the transparencies in an image. Common alpha mattes include hair and fur as well as semi-transparent objects or even optical blur created from a slow shutter speed. The research team used 49,300 images to train the deep learning program and 1,000 images to test its accuracy. By recognizing the structure instead of separating by color, the program has achieved accurate results even in images with similar tones.

Adobe’s process puts the image through two rounds of encoding, the first to find those edges and the second to refine the details for more accurate clips.

While artificially intelligent image clipping methods are still under research, Adobe’s latest look into the process could mean better clipping tools will eventually make their way inside programs like Photoshop and Premiere Pro — and even the possibility of eliminating the traditional green screen if the feature is robust enough.

Computing

Adobe’s craziest new tools animate photos, convert recordings to music in a click

Adobe shared a glimpse behind the scenes at what's next and the Creative Cloud future is filled with crazy A.I.-powered tools, moving stills, and animation reacting to real-time tweets.
Mobile

How to take great photos with the iPhone XS, Apple’s finest camera phone yet

The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max feature the best cameras yet seen on an Apple smartphone, ready for you to get out and take great photos. Here's our guide to help ensure each shot you take is a winner.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in October, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Black Panther’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Home Theater

TV calibration 101: Here's how to tune up the picture on your new TV

You’ve got your new TV out of the box, but now what? Our TV picture adjustment guide takes you through the simple steps to get the best picture from your brand-new TV so you can set it and forget it.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I.-powered cat toys, wallets, food containers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Wearables

NYPD pulls thousands of body cams after one explodes

The NYPD has recalled thousands of body cameras after one of them exploded during an officer's shift on Sunday, October 21. No one was injured in the incident, which is thought to have been caused by the device's battery.
Photography

Which landmarks are searched for most by creatives? This list has some surprises

What video and images of popular landmarks are creatives looking for most? A recent study by StoryBlocks analyzed search trends to dig up the most requested landmarks on the stock platform. While some are expected, others are surprising.
Cars

Protect yourself (and maybe capture something crazy) with our favorite dash cams

Dashboard cameras can assist drivers in car accident claims, settle speeding ticket disputes, and even catch glimpses of incoming meteors, among other things. Here, we've compiled a list of the most noteworthy offerings available.
Photography

Free your digital memories, and frame them, with the best photo printers

Printed photos are experiencing a revival at the moment, but you don’t need to go to a special lab. Here’s our favorite options for making quality prints, from pocket-sized printers to wide-format photo printers capable of spitting out…
Photography

8 weird, useful camera accessories for your iPhone or Android

With the rise of smartphone cameras comes an explosion of accessories aimed at enhancing your photography skills. Here, we take a look at a few, from add-on grips to entire camera units designed specifically to work with iOS devices.
Deals

The best budget-friendly GoPro alternatives that won’t leave you broke

Cold weather is here, and a good action camera is the perfect way to record all your adventures. You don't need to shell out the big bucks for a GoPro: Check out these great GoPro alternatives, including some 4K cameras, that won’t leave…
Photography

Here's how to make a watermark on any computer or smartphone

People copy images from the web every day. If you want to protect your photography from the prying hands of content thieves, consider adding a watermark. Here's how to make a watermark to keep your work from being shared without due credit.
Social Media

Save me: How to download Instagram photos from any device

Browsing photos in Instagram is one thing, but saving them is another. Until recently, it wasn't easy to get your photos off the 'gram and saved elsewhere. But Instagram has recently launched a tool that lets you download all of your…
Photography

Intel’s augmented reality brings Red Bull Rampage into your living room

The extreme mountain biking action of Red Bull Rampage is coming to your living room thanks to the power of augmented reality and 360-degree video that lets fans load a scale replica of the course right in their phones.