A great development in visual effects was the latent-image matte process. This technique involves the use of mattes to selectively obscure a portion of the frame, enabling this unexposed section to contain a new element shot at a later time. A matte is any form of art work or photographic element designed to prevent exposure in a selected area of a photographed image. The ability to spread out the task of compositing elements over time was a vast improvement over the foreground miniature and glass shots, in which everything had to work all at once.
The idea behind this technique is that photographic film does not “expose black,” unlike video, which actually records a zero component, or black. If a black silhouette ...