Mattes

Personally my choice of NLE is DaVinci Resolve which has become a real contender to some of the well known names on the market. I’m John from Resolve Browser and today I would like to show you how you can quickly stylize any video or create custom transitions in DaVinci Resolve using mattes.

Blackmagic Design who own DaVinci Resolve have different terminology than others so when reading the video editors manual you’ll come across the term travel matte. If you are new to video editing then I suppose we need to answer the question, what is a matte.

“Mattes are used in photography and special effects filmmaking to combine two or more image elements into a single, final image. Usually, mattes are used to combine a foreground image with a background image. -source Wikipedia

Mattes can be used in various and sometimes unthought of ways to stylize and create effects. I will talk about some of the most popular mattes but if after reading this article you have a different use for mattes then please comment and share.

Style mattes punch through a video clip to add creative effects, watch any wedding video and you will see a dream scene or vignette. These effects can be easily created with a matte in far less time than it takes to go into either the color page or fusion. They can also be used in all the popular video editing applications easily. 

These are not typical effects which you’ll find in the effects panel, you don’t even have to “install” them. These are QuickTime based, so work in every video editor and compositor as long as it can read QuickTime. Our mattes are QuickTime png with embedded alpha but you can use any black and white image and instead of relying on the alpha channel you can use the composite Lum (luminance) mode. 

Mattes also don’t have to be just black and white using grayscale will give us varying opacity and it is ideal for fade and vignette effects.White values will be opaque, black values will have no opacity and all the values of gray in between will have various levels of opacity.

Another advantage of mattes is you can use “hand painted” styles quickly and easily without even picking up a brush, -figuratively speaking.

If you want to experiment and follow along with this tutorial then hop over to resolvebrowser.co.uk in the menu go to buy > free stuff > free sample clips > mattes. You’ll also find this magic link at the bottom of all our product pages.

Let’s jump in to DaVinci Resolve but just remember that you do not need DaVinci Resolve to use our mattes these work in any video editor or compositing application. If you’re familiar with mattes then it’s exactly the same technique but DaVinci Resolve has only added the ability to use them in version 17 on the edit page without having to go to the color or fusion page. 

I will be following a comprehensive workflow as DaVinci Resolve has several “pages” Media, Cut, Edit, Color, Fairlight and Deliver. Mattes can be used directly from the cut and edit pages without the need to go to any other page, however my workflow involves the media page as I think this is underutilized.

I use the media page to navigate my storage drives and locate the Resolve Browser mattes. In my project’s mediapool which is in the lower half of the media page I create a new bin and name it mattes, inside this bin I’ll create several more bins based on the matte style I am going to use in my project.  I can then view the mattes in the source viewer and select the ones I’ll be using in my project.

If your media page doesn’t look like the image then you can close the left panel and drag the storage thumbnail panel to make it larger. Drag your chosen mattes into their appropriate bins and they will appear in every page within DaVinci Resolve except the deliver page.

Once you have added the mattes to the bins DaVinci Resolve has a nice feature to view them in a larger more flexible floating panel. This feature is extremely useful but I think it is underused. Right click on a bin in the far left and in the context menu there is the option to “open as new window”. This pop out window floats and can be resized and placed on a second monitor if required.

Once you have chosen your mattes for your project head over to your editing page of choice, I am going to use the edit page as it is easier than the cut page for adding mattes.

In the first example I am going to add a styled matte to a clip, I will use Vignette 001 from the Resolve Browser Vignette pack. There are two possible ways to add a style matte in DaVinci Resolve, either by adding the matte above or below the clip. These are very similar but use different composite methods. Any matte above the clip will use the composite (blend) modes, the most effective is the “multiply” mode. The multiply mode will make everything white transparent and everything black opaque. 

However DaVinci Resolve has added some new composite modes just for styled mattes and transition mattes. These new modes make it easier to use all types of mattes even if they don’t contain an alpha channel.

I am going to use the matte below clip method to demonstrate these new composite modes. If you have made a rough edit or have been given the project by an editor to add effects, then the following works well. I add a new track below the clip I want to add the vignette matte. Your project may be edited where you have to insert a track in between tracks to create an empty track below your clip but for this example I am going to keep it as simple as possible. 

I’ll add a new track below track one and place my vignette matte below my chosen clip, all I do then is open the inspector ensuring my matte is selected and locate the “composite” section in the inspector. Change the “Composite Mode ” to “Lum ” for the matte and change the composite mode of the clip to “Foreground”, that’s it you’re done.

How easy was that drag & drop, change 2 settings and done, no need to leave the edit page or use nodes on the fusion or color page. 

Transition mattes work in a similar way however you would overlap the clips with the transition matte inbetween. You may have to create a few extra tracks to achieve this but it opens up huge possibilities for creative transitions.

Place the leading clip (clip a) on track 3 the transition matte on track 2 positioned at the end of clip a. Place the following clip (clip b) on track 1 lining up the matte at the start of the clip. All that’s left is to change the transition mattes’s composite mode to “Lum” and the leading clip (clip a) to foreground. 

Confused? Well there is no worries as anyone who purchases a pack from Resolve Browser gets support included for the first year and if you take a break from editing and forget how to use any pack then you are welcome back anytime. All you need to do is contact support@resolvebrowser.co.uk

You will find travel mattes, static mattes and transition mattes in our Vertigo Generators section of the website.

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