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How To Make Roto Mattes From Live Action?


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I know nothing about compositing in Halo, This is more a general question. I saw a couple of clips from a studio here in Melbourne, Aust.

They show different plates which make up a shot. It has me stumped how they make a 'roto matte' like an alpha channel, from live action footage so they can comp CG elements in behind. These are crowd scenes so I'm wondering if they hand painted these mattes or if there is a software solution.



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