Matte

From Academic Kids

Matte can take on one of at least two distinct meanings.

Matte in art

Matte or matt can be used to describe a non-glossy finish on a surface; it can also be used to denote the surface surrounding a framed picture, between the picture itself and the frame; usually made from coloured card.

Matte in filmaking

Matte is a process in photography or filmmaking in which film of a live actor is mixed with an artificially created image to give the impression that the actor has a different background or surroundings.

The original technique was to shoot an actor on a small set through a hole in a sheet of transparent glass or plastic plate bearing a painted background. The camera would be carefully positioned so that the background drawn on the plate would appear to blend with the set as seen from the camera, giving the impression that the actor was in a large space without having to actually build that space. A similar effect, using models and a mirror, is called the Schüfftan process.

A later development, called the travelling matte, allowed the shape and position of the matte to be altered from frame to frame, enabling greater freedom of composition and movement as the actors did not have to remain within a set portion of the image. If the matte were made exactly the same size and shape as the image of the actor, it was even possible to replace the entire background.

In modern times similar effects have been achieved digitally, see: Bluescreen

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