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Understanding track mattes

From: Compositing with Premiere Pro CS5.5

Video: Understanding track mattes

Track Mattes are one of those Filters Effects that, once you get to know, you really fall in love with because it gives you just another level of control over where your Opacity is going to be on a video clip. The principle is very, very simple. Instead of using a particular color or a particular amount of luminance from your video clip to define what's visible and what's not visible, the Track Matte takes the luminance or the alpha channel from a completely different clip and uses that to define what's visible or not.

Understanding track mattes

Track Mattes are one of those Filters Effects that, once you get to know, you really fall in love with because it gives you just another level of control over where your Opacity is going to be on a video clip. The principle is very, very simple. Instead of using a particular color or a particular amount of luminance from your video clip to define what's visible and what's not visible, the Track Matte takes the luminance or the alpha channel from a completely different clip and uses that to define what's visible or not.

Let's just take a look at a simple example of how this works. I've got a video clip here that I've put an Ultra key onto so you can see this was originally green screen and now, it's just me standing in the empty blackness of space. I'm going to make a very simple title, so I'm pressing Ctrl or Cmd+T, and I'm going to call this square effect let's take off the Caps Lock there, and open that up. And this is going to be a very simple item, I'm just literally going to draw a round cornered square, there we are.

I'm not sure technically what you'd call that, an oblong perhaps. I'm sure there's another word for it, oval maybe. So now in my project, I've got my title, and I'm going to layer this above my video. So far, so normal. And now, I'm going to go to my Effects list and I'm going to get my Track Matte. The Track Matte key, it sits under the keying category in the Video Effects. I'm going to throw this not onto the square but onto the green screen video layer, It's the video layer that I want to affect, and the Track Matte key effect has very, very few settings.

Essentially, it just let you choose which layer you're going to take the key from. In this case, we've only got two video layers available, so I'm going to choose video 2. Right away, you can see the result of the matte key. And then under, let me resize this a little bit for you, under Composite Using, we can either use the Alpha of that layer or the Luma. Now, if you look carefully, I'll just set this to 100%. It's going to make absolutely no difference in the case of this title whether I use Luma or Alpha.

And that's because the alpha channel in my title is exactly the same as my Luma. It's fully visible and fully white. If I were working with an image that was a grayscale and had no Alpha channel or I had Alpha channel information but didn't fancy the luminance ranges in it, I can choose accordingly. And obviously if I choose reverse, I get the opposite. I get a hole. Now, where this gets interesting is not so much that I have successfully shown you how to, let me just turn off the audio here, how to just display my shoulder.

But instead, let me turn that back a little bit, because anything I now do with this title is going to change the visible part of my video, so if I go back to the start, roughly, and open up my motion controls, I can, for example, turn on key framing for position. Put on a little bit, maybe move up here, move on a little bit, pull down a little bit, get my elbow, move on a little bit more, and maybe, okay, then back to the shoulder.

And now, if I click away, go full screen with this, I've cut the audio off just so you can see the visuals. The result is something akin to a curvy cornered rectangular search light. And I guess it wouldn't be all that difficult to also lay on there a blur and a glow so it looks very much like I'm being targeted by a bulb. And that really is all you need to know to start working with the Track Matte Filter Effect.

It's one of those things that if you get the right source media and connect it to the right track matte, you get some really spectacular results. The only thing to be aware of is in Premiere Pro, if you're going to use the Track Matte key, it has to go in an upper video track. You can, for example, put your source media above the Track Matte, and then you'll notice, well, I can't even choose the layer underneath it. The video 2 and video 1 are just not available.

You must have your Track Matte above your source media. And you'll notice also that as soon as you tell Premiere Pro to use a layer as a Track Matte for the duration of your source clip, and by source clip I mean, the one I've got the effect on, that layer becomes transparent. If I pull this out so that you can see the title now extends beyond the end of my clip, as soon as the video runs out, (UNKNOWN) I'm back to see with title again.

And that is working with Track Matte keys in Premiere Pro.

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Compositing with Premiere Pro CS5.5

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Maxim Jago
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