External Mattes

External Mattes

May 11, 2014

When you need precise separation using External Mattes from a Rotoscope artist makes precise grading in DaVinci Resolve a breeze


Introduction To External Mattes

In this insight, we’re going to take a look at working with external mattes. What is an external matte? An external matte is a way of taking a shot that has been rotoscoped by a compositor or rotoscope artist and applies their perfect masks in Resolve. In a perfect workflow using External mattes is almost as simple as point and grade. You can also get external mattes on jobs with lots of VFX or 3d renders. I can ask our VFX department at Smoke and Mirrors for a matte and then import it into Resolve for precision grading.

Sample Job

The job below is a perfect example of when we use external Mattes. The client wants to get the best possible look for the car so we are normally supplied with mattes for the wheels, windows, lights, and body of the car.

YouTube video


Creative and Technical Uses

Mattes can be used for isolation to work on certain elements of the scene such as I show in the first half of this insight but you can also use them for creative reasons. I love using film burns, flares and random textures fed into a node to help add some organic feeling into a shot which I show in the second half of this insight.

Matte Management

In this insight we’ll be looking at the basics of adding mattes to the source clips and their creative uses. You can use as many mattes per clip as you’d like but you always need to assign the mattes to a source clip in the media pool before using it on the color page.

Mattes sometimes need to be slipped and adjusted but we’ll be covering that more in the next insight of the series.

If you can find someone to supply you with mattes while your grading you’ll be in colorist heaven but if not sometimes its worth taking your hands off the control panel and opening up something like Nuke or After Effects for precise rotoscoping instead of battling against an impossible key or power window.

– Dan

What do you think of this Insight?

Leave comments below to share your thoughts. Use the Like button up above to let your fellow MixingLight members if you recommend this video.

Member Content

Sorry... the rest of this content is for members only. You'll need to login or sign up to continue (we hope you do!).

Membership options
Member Login


Homepage Forums External Mattes

  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Hundreds of Free Tutorials

Get full access to our entire library of 900+ color tutorials for an entire week!

Start Your Free Trial