Depth stuff... any explanation?

Hey Hitfilmers!
I was messing around with the new PRO version, and saw Depth Mask and Depth Matte. I went to the online manual and read up on the a little, but I still don't think I understand them. Has anyone used them, and can you explain to me their purpose?


  • I've not used them extensively. Both appear to be used on duplicates of elements of a shot (either buried under a grade layer, or in an embedded composite shot) and generate either hard black and white maps (Matte) or grayscale (Map).

    The result is intended as a Set Matte source. There aren't Hitfilm specific tutorials, but VideoCopilot has some Depth Map tutorials  for E3D that show how a Depth Map is used.

    Sticking with Depth Map, here are a couple of brief examples. The Map is based on distance to camera, white being closest, black being farthest. Usually you'll end up needing to process a depth map with color grading tools first. So, say we've added a Lens Blur effect, and are using the depth map as the Source Layer. Areas of the depth map that are white would be blurred, white black isn't. Well, by default that's blur in close to the camera. Maybe we want the sharp part in the midground. So, we'd add a curves effect to modify the depth map, mapping 50% gray to a black and bringing black up to white. Now foreground and background blur while midground is sharp.

    Depth Matte generates a hard black/white opacity map and would be used with Set Matte to clip 2D effects that calculate (or fake render) in 3D space. Perhaps you have text with classic 3D Extrusion in the middle of a scene full of 3D models and layers. The Depth Matte can create the occlusion without roto.

    Also (and I'm AFK, so this is from memory) 3D models and particle layers have a "Depth Layer" option. We'll keep this example easy--we have a 3D spaceship with particle thrusters. Setting the Depth Layer for the particles to the ship means the particles are automatically occluded by the ship, meaning both layers can be left in 2D Compositing mode. This means you can add glow effects to the particles instead of using 3D Unrolled which doesn't allow effects to be added to the layer.

    Hope this helps. I know you had a good amount of 3D experience in earlier versions so I think this should make sense for you. 

  • Thank you sir! This is a lot of great info and puts me on a good path. Im going to have to experiment with this.

  • Llast notes: I think Depth Matte/Map is intended to go in a grade layer (hence Why I said on a duplicate of the objects). Also note that Layer Properties for a 3D layer or particle/model layer have an "include in Depth Map toggle. 

Sign in to comment