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The Basics

Let's go over a few of the key definitions in compositing.

  • Compositing— The assembling of various pictorial pieces to create a complete picture. The pieces can be still images or animation; they can be added or subtracted. Typically, color correction, 2D effects, and scene-transition effects are added at this time.

  • Layers— The various pieces to be composited, and the order in which they are stacked. It's important not to think of the process as putting together pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, but as an additive process that places the layers on top of one another.

  • Alpha Channel— An 8-bit grayscale picture that functions like a stencil. Blurring the picture will produce a soft-edged selection.

  • Matte— Synonymous with an alpha channel, a matte can be generated on the fly in a good compositing program. This can be done with a range of pixel colors, luminance, or a variety of attributes, depending on the software. Various operations, like color correction or making the area see-through, can then be performed.


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