In addition to Webster 1913's two definitions, a matte is also a mask used by by the film and animation industry.

There are two basic kinds of mattes in animation:

  • Female Matte
    A female matte or mask has a character, object or scene photographed over a black background.

  • Male Matte
    The male matte or mask is a silhouette of a character or object shot on a white background.

    Additionally, mattes in film can have a complete panoramic background for a scene. In Star Trek: The Next Generation, mattes were used extensively to make the characters appear to be standing on an alien world. The foreground with the characters was filmed with a large green screen behind them. The green around the characters was replaced later with a matte painting of the alien landscape.

  • Matte (?), n. [F. matte; cf. F. mat, masc., matte, fem., faint, dull, dim; -- said of metals. See Mate checkmate.]

    1. Metallurgy

    A partly reduced copper sulphide, obtained by alternately roasting and melting copper ore in separating the metal from associated iron ores, and called coarse metal, fine metal, etc., according to the grade of fineness. On the exterior it is dark brown or black, but on a fresh surface is yellow or bronzy in color.


    A dead or dull finish, as in gilding where the gold leaf is not burnished, or in painting where the surface is purposely deprived of gloss.


    © Webster 1913.

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