Fixed-Matte Method

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Fixed-Matte Method


a form of motion-picture or still special-effects photography based on the exposure of a frame in parts by means of a matte and cover that are stationary relative to the film gate of the camera. In the production of feature films, the method is used for filming the same actor in several roles, combining part of a natural object in a frame with a cartoon or model, or combining different elements of an object; in still photography it is used to produce trick photographs in the form of multiple images, such as “doubles” or “twins,” or by combining objects from different locations in one picture.

A matte is a light-proof black screen that shields part of the frame from exposure. It is used in combination with a cover, which during the second exposure covers the part of the frame previously exposed and leaves the unexposed portion open. Precise matching of the borders of the matte and cover is essential in this kind of photography. To produce a frame with a subsequently added drawing or model, the object is first photographed with the actors (with the matte), and then the cartoon or model is filmed (with the cover).

In still photography, the matte and cover are used in printing —for example, a picture of a landscape from one negative is printed on part of a sheet of photographic paper (the remaining part of the paper is covered by the matte), and a picture of objects photographed at another time or place is then printed from a second negative (using the cover).


Pluzhnikov, B. F. Zanimatel’naia fotografiia, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1967.
Kombinirovannye kinos”emki. Moscow, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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