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Garbage Mattes are basically Paths/Shapes that can be used to eliminate "garbage" on the exteriors of frames. The "point" number you will often see describes the "handles" on the Shape, i.e. 16-point Garbage Matte. These are meant to be sized, as is necessary.
Now, along the same lines are Track Mattes. In general usage, I find them a lot more useful. These translate to B/W images, that can be used to provide the same function as a Garbage Matte and pretty much work the same way in use. However, these can be constructed in the Titler, Photoshop or other image editing software. Sorry that I do not know the ins-n-outs of PE's Titler, but in Pro you can create any shape you want easily. It's just like doing Shapes behind a Text Title, but without the Text. The neatest thing is that you can Blur these Shapes so easily to soften their edges. Gaussian Blur is my fav. for this.
If you have Photoshop, you can create these Track Mattes in any shape that you might desire, right from the Toolbox. Just start your New Image with the proper preset for your PE Project. Hit D to set your colors to the default and design away.
Do not know if there are any pre-made Track Mattes in the Muvipix library of "goodies," but you might want to head to www.muvipix.com and poke around. They have a lot of very useful Assets there.
Curt Wrigley (currently writing a book on Premiere CS4) has a wonderful tutorial on using Track Mattes. The tutorial is for PP2 specifically and involves softening facial features with a burred dupe of the footage, but you can learn a lot and just translate it into what you want to do in your Project. There might be a few limitations with PE, but the regulars here can easily step you though how to overcome those limitations. I do my Track Matte work in PP, and do not know PE well enough to help with details.
Simple mattes you can draw in the titler.
Wow, super fast replies -- thanks a lot. I'll check out the resources you mention and also try out the titler idea. Sounds interesting....
Once again, thanks a lot.