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Can someone remind me what the technical name is for the removal of a background from a still image?

Our photographer told me years ago, but I've since forgotten and it gets embarrassing!

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Depending on the context and who you're talking to, this is referred to as "keying" (also referred to as Chroma Key), "matting" (mostly video), "masking" (you'll come across "clipping mask" as a term which is interchangeable with "mask" in most cases) or extraction. These are all names for the same general technique, which is the basis of Compositing.

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While I think Alan probably has it, silhouetting is an old school printer's term, opaquing (using a red clay-like paint to mask off portions of B&W film negatives), and vignetting all might fit the bill.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

The phrase I was looking for is 'deep-etching'.

Thanks for all the answers, guys.

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Deep etching is how to achieve the effect after the plate is burned. The correct answer is given by Alan Gilbertson, below. – Stan Sep 6 '13 at 20:04

You might mean "background extraction".

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You could say "Cut out" or "Image cut out"

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Another term could be "Isolated Image"

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