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As I mentioned, adjustment layers process the composite of all the layers underneath. This makes it really handy to unify a composition, not only as a stack of layers, but also as it changes over time with a consistent set of effects. One of my favorite uses of this trick is to do something called a Filmic Glow. If you've got the Exercise Files, open something that has several layers of footage on it, such as this comp 03a we are working with earlier. If you don't have the files, just create something that has several cuts, edits, cross-fades and another layers.
Now you see I've got an edit between these different layers in this composition. What if I want to apply the same treatment to all of these layers across those edits? Well, this is another place where adjustment layers come in really handy. I'll go to Layer > New > Adjustment Layer. Nthing happens initially, because I've not applied any effects yet. You need to have an effect apply to an adjustment layer before you're going to see any result, and I'm going to apply Effect > Blur & Sharpen > Fast Blur.
As I increase it, you'll see the entire composite blurs. Now remember, this adjustment layer is a copy of everything underneath, but blurred. Also remember, we discussed how useful this thing called blending modes are to help process footage. Well, one way is to take a blurred copy of your footage and apply it on top of everybody underneath. If I pick a nice brightening mode such as Add, you'll see I get nice blown -out puffy highlights on all of my footage. And the same effect will apply across my edits.
Just to show you, this is before and after. If that depth is too much, I'll press T to reveal Opacity and just fade down adjustment blur and control how much of this effect that I see. And remember this effect is a composite of all the layers underneath, blurred, and then apply it in top of the original layers using a blending mode. I can pick a different mode. For example, Overlay is one of my favorite modes. It really increases the saturation before and after.
There is my skyline. There is my night scene. There is the jet landing. Now one really gets an improvement between the normal footage and the adjusted footage. And if you like, you can create multiple adjustment layers. I'm going to go ahead and duplicate this layer, set its mode to something different like Add, start balancing off the brightening qualities, and the saturation qualities of these multiple applications of these layers, before and after.
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