Using Photoshop for Matte Creation

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One of the things I love about Photoshop is how deep and flexible it is. The industry standard image editing software has the ability to do a multitude of things that just listing them wouldn’t do the software justice. Photoshop is a valuable part of my post production workflow. One of the things I enjoy creating in this application more than anything are mattes. Using the shape tool, I have the ability to create unique shaped mattes which I can then use in my editing software of choice. Below is a tutorial I did 2 years ago for using mattes from Photoshop to create a diagonal split screen effect.

I’m going to quickly show you how to create a matte in Photoshop from a shape you can use in your editing software.

Matte Creation

One of the first things I tend to do when creating a matte is use the paint bucket tool and make my first layer black. When dealing with alpha and luminance, black represents the area that is transparent while white represents the area that is opaque.

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Next, I will use the shape tool and go through my available shapes. By default, Photoshop has a plethora of shapes you can use. You have options such as the rectangle, rounded rectangle, ellipse, polygon, line and custom shape. If you want to add more shapes to your collection, you can download some from Deviant Art – some are free and others you can get for a reasonable price.

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I’ll use the custom shape tool and choose a chevron shape. I’ll make sure that it is white. It can be any color but black or grey, as those would cause transparency to happen which we want to avoid.

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I’ll create multiple instances of this shape so that it stretches the length of my composition.

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Now we can save this composition for use in our editing software. When you want to save items like this from Photoshop, you can go about it a few ways. You can of course save it as a .psd file and it will import fine into your editing software. This tends to be of higher quality and will help you maintain access to your layers and have more import options.

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You can also save it as a .jpeg, .png, .tiff or any other image format. When you save it in an image format, this will merge your layers into one image,unless you save it as a .tiff, which supports layers. Since I want to use this as one image in my editing software, I will save it as an image format.

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If I heard over to my editing software, I can import the image into my project panel.

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Now if I perform the method of using a matte filter (for Premiere and Media Composer) or matte blending mode (for Final Cut Pro) I can place my video inside the matte and create a cool composite.

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Matte creation in Photoshop is a valuable technique to know as Photoshop tends to be more flexible in image manipulation/creation than your editing software may be.

I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

Sound Effects

Film Impact and Creative Impatience Review

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Since making the transition from a Final Cut Pro 7 workflow to a Premiere Pro workflow, things have been great. I was able to modify my keyboard shortcuts to be more FCP friendly and I don’t deal with as many hassles as I did when editing in FCP 7. As great as that is, there were some things that took a little getting use to. In terms of actual transitions, Premiere Pro’s native transitions were lacking to say the least. If I wanted to use a fancy or cheesy transition on an edit, I would have to use one of the many filter based transitions or send my clips to After Effects via Dynamic Link. Another area of interest I felt that FCP 7 had on Premiere was its compositing and masking capabilities. The amount of native masking and compositing tools FCP has puts Premiere Pro to shame.

FCP vs PPro

Now it’s possible to achieve certain masking/compositing effects in Premiere but most times it would require help from the Title Tool and the available matte key filters (Image Matte, Set Matte and Track Matte) or the limited crop filter. Over the last year, two independent entities have created transitions and compositing filters that help fill the gaps between FCP and Premiere Pro. They are Film Impact and Creative Impatience. Film Impact is comprised of a group of developers who create professional, inexpensive plugins for both FCP 7 and Premiere Pro CS5-CS6. Creative Impatience is the brainchild of developer/editor Bart Walczak. With Bart’s plugins, you get plugins that allow you to crop, feather edges of your media, vignette and mask out multiple sections of one or more videos.

Film Impact Plugins

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This suite of transitions have been a welcomed addition to the Premiere Pro ecosystem. With transitions such as Impact Flash, Impact Push, Impact Blur Dissolve and more, I have the ability to give my projects more polish. One of the strengths of these transitions is the user interface that is available. Within that interface, I have the ability to effect how my transition will look and interact with my media. For example if I was using the Impact Flash transition, I have the ability to effect the Blur, Glow and Softness parameters which in turn effect how the transition looks. I can take it from its default state to a different variation of the transition.

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The best part about these transitions is that they are actual transitions. Many third party transitions that you can purchase for Premiere tend to function as filters that need to be keyframed in the Effect Controls panel as opposed to be placed on an edit. There is a time and place for using those types of transitions but in most cases I like the ease of a transition that can be placed at the head or tail of clips. Overall, Film Impact has definitely been able to figure out the plugin SDK of Premiere and create a great suite of transitions. If future iterations are as good as the first collection, then I know Film Impact will become a power player.

Creative Impatience Plugins
This collection of filters addresses an editor’s need to do simple masking and compositing tasks that you would usually send out to After Effects to take care of. Within this collection, you can download Feathered Crop, Vignette, Power Window and Simple Mask all for free (if you find these plugins useful, you can donate to the developer to help with the progress of current and upcoming plugins). One of the standout filters I found immediately useful is Feathered Crop. Back in my FCP 7 days, being able to feather the edges of a clip for a nice composite was one of my go to techniques. Switching over to Premiere, I found this to be rather difficult with the native tools. To do anything remotely close to this would require the Title Tool and Track Matte Key. Also, the Edge Feather filter was not as resourceful as I thought it could be. When this plugin came out, I instantly found myself using it quite often. With it’s in depth interface, the user can selectively crop and feather from top, bottom, right and left. They also have the ability to add a border around their image if they choose to.

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The newest plugin I’m finding immediately useful is Simple Mask. This filter allows you to create a simple and adjustable mask around your media. The best part is you can add multiple instances of this filter to focus on specific portions of your footage or create a unique mask design.

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Overall, Creative Impatience has been able to address my masking and compositing needs in Premiere with this collection of plugins. Their ease of use and incredible design makes them accessible for quick and dirty compositing techniques.

If you are a recent FCP 7 convert or diehard user of Premiere Pro, I highly recommend adding these plugins to your plugin arsenal. What these 2 developers have created is nothing short of phenomenal.

I’m the NLE Ninja with Audio Micro asking you to stay creative.

Sound Effects

Track Matte Key Work Around in Premiere Pro

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One of the things I love about editing is using transitions. Editing is much more than the bells and whistles you put into it, but when I have a cool transition that can give it additional production value, I can’t pass it up (side note: picking the perfect sound effects can also really add some spice to your transitions). One type of transition I enjoy using are the overlay transitions that require the Track Matte Key/Effect to use them. In Premiere Pro, there is a way to utilize the Track Matte Key to use those transitions but there is a catch. If the matte I use from transition ends, my clip disappears. For the longest time, I’ve been trying to understand how to work around that so I don’t have to take as many steps when using these transitions. Most of the time when people have demonstrated Track Matte transitions, they tell you to delete the effect on the second of your clip. Well, I’m going to show you a quick tip to avoid that on your next project by keeping the track matte on both portions.

Track Matte Key Work Around

In my timeline, I have 2 clips stacked on top of each other. Let’s apply the Track Matte Key to the clip on Track 2.

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The following steps are important to ensure that you get the desired result. Place your transition matte on Track 3. Right click on the matte and select Enable to disable it. This is done just in case your matte is making it difficult to see you video clip.

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Next, go to the out point of your transition matte. Make an edit at that point on your clip on Track 2.

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Select the left portion of your clip. Go to the effect controls panel. Set the matte dropdown to Video 3 and Compositing using Matte Alpha or Luma.

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Right click on your transition matte on Track 3. Select Enable to re-enable it.

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Now when you play through timeline, you will see the transition occur. Once it gets past the point where the matte ends, your clip won’t disappear. The reason for this is because we never designated a video track for the right portion of clip to take a matte from. It will still have the effect but act like nothing has changed. This is a useful tip for the next you deal with Track Matte transitions in Premiere Pro.

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There are many places where you can get overlay transitions that require the Track Matte Key for a great price. So the next time you are in Premiere Pro and want use one of them, utilize this technique to save you some time. It’s always better to work smarter, not harder.

I’m the NLE Ninja with AudioMicro asking you to stay creative.

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