What Is Compositing

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 5 minute read

A compositing artist’s function in the visual effects business is fascinating. Production firms rely on the expertise of the compositor, who is also known as a colorist.

The objective is to produce stunning digital images that seem alive and reflect a project’s overall design.

Live footage, stock pictures, special effects, and 2D animation are just some of the components a compositor combines.

Job opportunities in the entertainment and retail industries are plentiful. Those with a talent for compositing can find work in one of these four media.


There are two types of films in this category: narrative and musical. The green screen is a frequent shooting backdrop.

This technique is used by studios when a live location is not viable or practical, such as when shooting movies that are fictitious, historical, or futuristic.

A compositor uses chroma key software to eliminate the green backdrop from a film, leaving the performers and objects in the front.

The artist then replaces the green screen with an appropriate scene, either a still image or a video clip. 

New York TV studios may get an amazing Hawaiian beach scene without transporting the crew and cast to Hawaii by substituting the green set with a beautiful beach shot.

The artist creates 3D figures from 2D components by using z-depth. It’s also possible to remove video faults like glare with these tools.

All other forms of entertainment will be outpaced by the film industry in terms of growth until 2028.

A multimedia artist can expect to make $72,520 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2013. Additionally, compositors might earn more than $100,000 a year in New York and Los Angeles.


When working in this medium, the compositor blends together footage from many takes. Set markers assist the artist match the movement of the performer with the previous backdrop video.

There are several pieces that are synchronized by software that latches on the markers. Motion tracking is the term used to describe this process of alignment.

The program creates coordinates for each object monitored. As a result of these figures, compositors now have a precise means of incorporating new elements into scenes.

A green or blue screen is used to film commercials and television programs. When photographing in low light, blue screens are the ideal choice. 

With the use of blue screens and color correction, scenes that were shot in the daytime may be transformed into the nighttime by simply changing the lighting.

Color hue, saturation, highlights, and brightness are all adjusted in this way by the compositor to make things appear more realistic.

Dust-busting is a technique for removing video artifacts, such as scratches, dust, and specks, from the footage.

Rotoscoping is another technique of the trade that includes removing a person or item from one scene and moving it to another.

It is necessary to begin the process of rotoscoping by first constructing a matte, which is nothing more than a silhouette of the subject.

Using a pen tool to draw a rough outline of the topic will help a composting program figure out what should be removed. 

It is possible for the artist to use a different backdrop once the matte is sliced. For example, safety wires can be eliminated by using rotoscopic techniques.


Customers are made to look like heroes in photos like this one, which showcases a product’s strengths.

Compositors commonly utilize Adobe Photoshop to create eye-catching hero images for retail products and services. For an effective commercial, the artist blends multiple exposures or frames together. 

This includes looking at a variety of factors, such as texture, illumination, color, finish, brightness, and angle.

Layer masks are a go-to compositing technique for hero shot compositions. When a layer is masked, the stratum underneath it may be seen clearly through the mask. 

There are many other features that the compositor may add like shadows. Advertisers use hero shots in both print and digital media after they have polished them.

Digital displays, websites, and bus and delivery truck sides are all common places to see advertisements of various kinds.

Development of a Video Game

Game presentation is greatly enhanced by compositors, who inject life and color into their work. Through the artist’s dynamic vision and intuitiveness, special effects are captivating. 

Visual effects, or “VFX,” as they’re known in the industry, are combined by the compositor in order to enhance video games.

Flames, floods, gale-force winds, and explosions are just some of the environmental elements. Character superpowers, like bone-crushing strength, might be used in gameplay.

Motion tracking and rotoscoping are two common 2D methods that compositors utilize to enhance storyboards.

Additionally, they have an effect on the game’s tone and atmosphere. The game’s tone describes the mood of the game. 

The mood is the emotional response a tale elicits. In each episode, the compositor progresses the plot by expertly combining action-packed sequences, keeping the player intrigued and enthused.

There are various creative departments that must work together with a compositor in any given sector.

Video game production teams comprise game designers, character modelers, animators, programmer/sound designers, and the project director. 

Game allure depends on the discriminating eye and software knowledge of compositors, which is why they are highly regarded in this medium.

Managing Workflow

It is possible to start a project with either node-based or layer-based workflow templates. Node-based compositing uses a procedural map to lay up digital elements and effects horizontally.

Node-based tools, like Nuke and Shake, are used in the majority of film and video game composites. 

For television shows and advertising, a layer-based flowchart is a norm. Images are displayed in a vertical stack with this design. The picture at the bottom of the stack is known as the baseline layer. 

New layers are created as a result of alterations to the compositing process. The completed picture is the crowning achievement of the stack.

Combustion and After Effects are two applications that use layers to organize their data.

Imagery That Won

Composing artist’s work in the last stages of VFX development. Layering techniques combined with specialist software produce visually arresting final photos that are sure to catch the eye. C

Compositors are in high demand across a wide range of industries, including cinema, television, advertising, and video game creation. Graphic design, app development, and web design jobs are also available.

A bachelor’s degree in VFX production, computer animation, or motion graphics is a good starting point for a career in the industry.

Another choice is to complete a VFX diploma or certificate program, which typically lasts one year. Internships are a great way to get hands-on experience in the field. 

Interviewers look for a strong portfolio, which should include a showreel that demonstrates your compositing abilities. The reel should be updated at least once every six months as your repertoire expands

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