Planning a Matte Effect

As described earlier, a chroma key effect removes areas of color from the background of a shot, enabling you to substitute another image in its place. A matte effect defines an area of the screen, in the shape of your choice, that becomes transparent and enables another video image to show through. The shape that defines the transparent area is called a matte. Final Cut Pro and Premiere both ship with ready made matte effects you can apply as filters to create round, square, or diamond-shaped mattes. Both programs also enable you to create an (unfortunately named) garbage matte to create custom matte shapes using 4 or 8 points on the screen. Last but not certainly not least, you can use a travel matte to create a matte effect in the exact shape of a complex graphic you’ve produced in a program such as Photoshop or Illustrator.

Note

I was sufficiently inspired by seeing the original Godzilla that I created the demonstration sequence in Chapter 12. In that sequence, a giant two-year-old Luca (pictured throughout this chapter) looms over New York’s historic Lower East Side. Like the matte in the original Godzilla, I used the tops of the buildings to delineate the edge of one shot and the beginning of another. As a result, traffic flows freely through the bottom half of the frame while gigantic Luca rampages across the top. The buildings naturally fill the bottom half of the frame, and it makes sense visually that an oversized toddler would appear behind them. ...

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