Prep artists clean up the backgrounds of live-action footage ready for the effects to be layered onto it by the compositor. The shots they work on, known as plates, either moving or still, don’t have foreground action or players included.

Prep artists use specialist VFX software to clean plates. There are many processes used to do this cleaning. They remove any unwanted dust and scratches from the frame. They sort out dropped frames, where a camera has been unable to capture all the frames in a given time resulting in little jerks in the action. They remove any unwanted items such as boom microphones or electric pylons.

Prep artists work with the compositors because they hand their plates over to them. They also work with roto artists, who cut out objects and help clean the plates. In smaller companies, the work of the prep artist and the roto artist is combined.