Front Light/Back Light Matting Tutorial

Process for creating mattes using Photoshop Elements in stop motion animated films.

Comment by StopmoNick on June 11, 2012 at 8:57pm

Great tutorial!

Just being picky here - I would have applied the blur to the puppet, before flattening the image.  Then flatten image.  I wouldn't want to add blur to the background.

But apart from that, a brilliantly clear explanation of how to do the frontlight-backlight matte using Photoshop Elements!  I use two other programs which not many people would have, so this is far more useful and affordable than my method.

Is it actually necessary to remove the rig in the frontlit shot by painting black over it?  I only remove rigs in the backlit shot, since that determines what will be visible, and the rig doesn't show.  But it may work differently in PS.  Any step that can be eliminated helps, when you are doing a couple of hundred frames.

Comment by Ron Cole on June 11, 2012 at 9:02pm

Yeah, all the reflections on the flying rig will show up unless you eliminate them on the front lit image. Working in Photoshop Elements is like working with film in that sense so, just think of it that way... if there's a reflection on the wire holding up the puppet, taking out the shadow in the back lit image is not enough, you need to get rid of all traces of it in both images.

Comment by Bristolius on June 13, 2012 at 4:47pm
Isomer, is that the jester character from In the Fall of Gravity?

I remember you revealed your amazingly cool way of getting great deformations from what looked like a solid puppet.
Comment by Ron Cole on June 13, 2012 at 5:55pm

Yep that's the Marionette's body form. I made a silicone mold that could fit wire into so I could cast a new one every time a wire broke. I used Sculpey III to sculpt in all the flexible parts because that's the only clay I found that matched the white casting plastic. The faces and hands for him were replacement castings and the symbols on his 'costume' were thin flexible acrylic paint applications. I made those by painting them onto a silicone mold surface in enough coats to make them thick enough to peel off and stick onto the clay on the puppet.

I made him the way I did because I wanted to come up with something that people who animate wouldn't be able to instantly figure out what he was made of or how I did it.

Oh, the 'bells' on the tips of his clay hat were those little round metal balls from a light switch chain. I managed to keep them on by attaching them to string that I glued into holes that were drilled into the solid head. His sleeves were not actually hollow, I painted in all the openings in post.

Comment by Bristolius on June 14, 2012 at 8:30am
More secrets revealed! Thanks. Learning about this makes me feel happiness.

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