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In this course, Chris Meyer demonstrates the most common techniques for adding selective transparency to layers in After Effects through the use of masks, track mattes, and stencils. In addition to explaining the tools and basic theory behind transparency, the course covers several practical applications for these techniques, including isolating objects, creating vignettes, and filling text with visual texture. Tutorials on crafting custom transitions and other treatments are also included. Exercise files accompany the course.
The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
Next let's animate one of our masked shapes. I'm going to bring on a title and animate that on using masks. I'm going to press Home to make sure I'm at the very beginning of my composition, and if you have the exercise files that came with this lesson, I am going to go Project, scroll down to my Sources, and drag in the title Bring on the Night. I am going to drag it to roughly to the middle of my composition, there we go. If you don't have the exercise files feel free to bring on any other layer, a piece of text, go ahead and create text layer, whatever you like. This particular Illustrator file was created with black text, which makes it a bit hard to read.
So to make it easier to read against these backgrounds I'm going to go ahead and fill it with the color. I can use the Effect menu. I can never remember where Fill is in the Effect menus. So I am going to go to Effects & Presets panel and type Fill. Ah, there it is. It's there in the Generate menu. Drag it on to my title, change the color to something familiar like a white, and now I can see it against my background. I'm going to use a mask shape to reveal this title over time. To do that I'll make sure select it, go up to my tool, choose just the normal Rectangle tool, I don't need anything fancy here, and drag out a rectangle across my type, and what I'd like to do is animate it like this to bring it on.
So let's go ahead and start by seeing the whole title, so I can tell what the heck I'm doing, and I'll make sure that mask visibility is on, so I can see where that mask is in relationship to my title. Let's say that I'd like to have this reveal over the course of one second. I'm going to drag my Current Time Indicator out to 1 second, make sure the mask is revealed for my title layer. If it's not, again the shortcut key is M, and enable the Animation stopwatch for the mask path.
That's the outline around my text. I'll turn it on, go back to time zero, you can press home as a shortcut, and now I need to edit this mask shape. When I edit the mask shape it'll create another keyframe and After Effects will automatically interpolate between keyframes, just like any other parameter. When I press V, return to my Selection tool. That's what I use for editing a mask. You might notice that my mask outline is kind of grayish yellow instead of the normal bright yellow. When a mask outline is in a slightly grayish tone, it's telling you you're not on a keyframe right now. Go ahead and use my Keyframe Navigator. You'll see a bright yellow means I am right on the keyframe. Press Home. Grayish color means I'm not on a keyframe.
I'll double-click it to go ahead and bring up the Free Transform tool. I move my cursor over one of the edges of the mask. I'll just drag it back to go ahead to conceal my title. I am going to go ahead and move the current time. It's a little bit past here. Type N to end at my work area. Press 0 of a numeric keypad or go ahead and just click on the Preview button to go ahead and do a RAM preview. And there is my title being revealed. If I think that's too fast. I just need to move the second keyframe later in time to slow down the transition. 0, RAM preview again and now there is a slower reveal.
That's kind of nice, but you know it's a little bit hard-edged. I'd like to maybe soften that transition as it fades across. Well that's simple. That's the Mask Feather parameter. As I mentioned before you can type two Ms to reveal all the mask parameters or Mask Feather has its own shortcut. F reveals the Mask Feather. I'll go ahead and scrub it to soften the edge. You have to be careful of where your mask is because if you soften it too much it can start to fade out from the top and bottom in addition left and right. This is a case where I might want to go back to zero, unlock the X and Y dimensions on my Mask Feather, and just it feather it horizontally, not vertically.
The X-dimension is the horizontal dimension, so I am going to go ahead and scrub just that value to feather that out, and now when I press 0 to RAM preview I get a much softer reveal. You have to be careful where your mask is in relationship to the edge of a layer, because there is a possibility that the feather is so broad it might be cutting off part of your title. So I'm going to go ahead and press U to reveal my keyframes, go to my last keyframe, and make sure my mask edge is far enough that the feather is not cutting into my title. When I get safely beyond there, tighten it up as necessary there not to fade on my title.
I don't want to drag these out too far, because if I do that, well the mask is going to animate all the way out here and my time is going to be off. Just do it enough so I can see my whole title without it being trimmed off by my feather. That looks good. Press 0 to RAM preview and there's my simple reveal. Now that's the easy way to animate a mask. If I wanted to, in addition to go ahead and using this Free Transform tool, I go ahead and double-click my mask again and select an individual mask Vertex.
I'll Shift+Click to deselect, click again to select just that point and I could do all sorts of strange mask shape reveals and have some fun with this. But in this case I just wanted to do a simple wipe, so I double-click the mask and use the Free Transform to go ahead and just wipe the mask across. Be careful playing around, because you might accidentally keyframes you didn't intend to. Either Undo or just go ahead and turn off that keyframe by clicking on this little diamond in between your keyframe navigators. That's all there is to it.
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