Compositor (Animation)

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What does a compositor do?

Compositors create the final image of a frame, shot or sequence. They take different digital elements; like the animations, background plates, graphics and special effects (SFX) and put them together to make a believable picture.

They are responsible for the composition of images and shots. They make these look good by way of how the different art assets and elements are digitally placed. Compositors enhance the lighting, create convincing shadows and add motion blur where required.

They are also responsible for continuity; making sure art from different sources and different artists looks the same. They make sure the blacks and other colours match each other in the image. They spot mistakes and either correct them or send the work back through the pipeline to be improved. They ensure the overall style of the film is consistent and in line with the director’s vision.

Some studios have junior compositor roles. Junior compositors help compositors by doing the simpler parts of the job, sometimes under supervision. They might match colours or add in shadows.

What's a compositor good at?

  • Art: have a good eye, recognise what makes an image look good in terms of lighting effects, colour, composition and perspective
  • Attention to detail: be able to scrutinise the media and work on compositions until they appear cohesive and consistent
  • Working to deadlines: work within given timeframes, be able to complete work under pressure
  • Knowledge of the animation production pipeline: have a thorough understanding of the computer-generated animation process
  • Knowledge of compositing programs: be adept at wide range of relevant programs such as After Effects, Blackmagic Fusion, Maya, Nuke and Photoshop

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