Relative height adjustments in Virtual Groups

Applies to: NeoComposite


A frequently heard complaint from customers ordering virtual groups is "but everyone is the same height".

This is an unavoidable side effect of the photographer shooting and cropping images to 'fill the frame'. While this is needed for normal photography products it has the consequence of removing the differences in heights (and size) from subject to subject.

Version 4.7 of NeoComposite introduced the ability for virtual groups to take subject height information into account when forming the composite page. Shorter subjects appear shorter, taller subjects appear taller with the end result being a more natural looking group photo.


The following two examples illustrate the issue and the solution.

The groups on the left are typical Virtual Groups. Note the subjects are basically all the same height (variations will occur due to the photography and cropping of each image). The groups on the right have been adjusted to reflect the subjects' true heights.

Figure 1: A year level virtual group without height adjustment

Figure 2: The same group with height adjustments

Figure 3: A straight line virtual group. No height adjustment

Figure 4: The true heights of the players

Relative height adjustment in NeoComposite

With Version 4.7 of NeoComposite the photographer has the ability to enter height data for each subject into a special 'Height' field. The software can then use this information in Virtual Groups to display subjects with the correct heights relative to each other as shown above.

As an alternative to entering actual height information (5'-3", 5'-6", 172cm etc) the photographer may instead enter relative height values such as 1,2,3,4 or A,B,C D etc. He then specifies the true height for the two end values only (eg 1= 5'-0", 9= 5'-11") and the software will interpolate the other values

The procedure for relative height adjustment can therefore be summarized as:

  1. Defining a special height field to hold height data
  2. Entering either absolute (5'-3",5'-6",5'-4",5'-5"...) or relative (1,4,2,3...) data for each subject
  3. If using relative data specifying the actual height data for the two extreme points
  4. In the composite page settings window selecting the 'Relative Heights' option

The special 'Heights' field

The height data must be contained in a subject field whose special property must be specified as 'Height". The field should be a Text type field and may have any name.

The height field may be called anything - it does not need to be called Height - but it must be defined with the special property of Height

As with other subject fields the Height field may be defined with the Timestone Administrator (tsAdmin) or may be defined on a job per job basis in Details Mode>Edit fields.

Figure 5: Defining a Height field in tsAdmin

Entering data into the Height field

Having defined a Heights field, data may be entered as per any other subject field including manually by keyboard, importing a text file or with a /%D barcode.

A variety of formats are supported

feet and inches without separator eg 5'3"
feet and inches with separator eg 5'-3"
inches eg 63"
centimetres eg160
centimetres with cm suffix eg 160cm

Since the Heights field is essentially just another subject field the data may also be added to a template with @fieldname

Figure 6: Subjects with height data

Using relative height values

An alternative to absolute height data as shown above is to use relative values. For example a photographer may have a height marker against which the subject stands or walks by. The marker may be divided into even segments such as 1-9 or A-F with the photographer recording the value for each subject. The photographer need only then tell the software the height of the smallest and largest values.

Figure 7: Subjects with relative height values. In this example value 1 is the shortest and value 9 the tallest

The two extremities are set in the software with the Heights Settings window found in Images Mode>Edit>Height settings...

Figure 8: Setting heights for the two endpoint values

Enabling relative heights - The Composite Page Settings

With height data entered for each subject, relative height adjustment is simply a matter of enabling the option in the Composite Set Details window in Form Pages Mode as shown below

Figure 9: Enabling relative height adjustment

To avoid truncating heads and feet two further options place the head and feet of the tallest subject a certain percentage from the top and bottom of the subject block image hole. The optimum values will vary depending on the templates in question and the subject heights but will usually be between 0 and 5%

End of article