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In After Effects CS3 Effects, Adobe Certified Instructor Chad Perkins explores the basic purposes and practical uses of each of the application's effects. He teaches in detail how to apply every native effect, covering 3D Channel effects, Blur & Sharpen effects, using channels for blending and reflections, color correction, distortion, particle systems, and keying. This training is essential for those who want to push After Effects CS3 to its limits. Exercise files accompany the course.
The Calculations Effect is quite possibly the most powerful and useful of all of the tools in the Channel Effect Personal and if you're familiar with Photoshop, then you might recognize Calculation from Photoshop as well. So in another words, one of those Photoshop carryovers and in a sense what a Calculation Effect does, it allows you to combine Channels from one layer with the Channel from another layer and I realize this doesn't sound very cool, but it actually is really cool and from my experience one of the most helpful thing that it does, it helps with reflection. What we're going to do is, we'll create some reflections.
We're going to take two stupid layers, and we're going to make something cool with Calculations. So, lets say we have this Not so Crystal Ball layer, that's rendered from 3DS Max that's anything but spectacular. We also have this like a goofy picture of me that we'll use a little bit later in the Keying chapter and basically what I want to make it look like, if I want to make it look like I'm holding this Crystal Ball and you see my reflection in this ball and the Calculation Effect, it's just again, is perfect for this type of thing. So I'm going to apply Calculation to the Not so Crystal Ball layer and it seems like -- you open up Calculation and Okay, it's very, very simple, but it can be deceiving, it gets pretty complicated, pretty quick.
So open up input, basically this is saying what part of this layer, that's Not so Crystal Ball layer, we're going to contribute to the final result. By default it's set to RGBA, in other words Red, Green, Blue and Alpha. We could also change it to Grey or we can just bring in the contents of the Red, Green, Blue or Alpha Channels if we want to. I'm basically going to leave this set to RGBA for the time being, but beware that do you can't combine the Red of one Channel with another part of another Channel if you want, and also of course, you can Invert the Input as well.
Now I'm going to open up this Second Source Area, and this is where it starts getting pretty interesting. I'm going to pick a Second Layer; this is the layer to combine with. So I'm going to pick Chad Karma.tif, the layer down here there is a layer. But beware that we can use any layer in this comp, and we can also use Blending Modes, which we'll get to you in a second. But because we could also Blending Modes on a Second Layer, Calculations also becomes a really cool way to use Blending Modes on two Layers that are not next to each other in the layer stack in the Timeline.
So typically we apply Blend Modes down here in the Timeline and the Overlay Mode applies to this layer, then everything else beneath it. But if we want to apply Blend Modes in a certain way to Layer Two and Layer 99 and nothing else, the Calculation way is the way to go, something you cannot do in the Timeline. Now let's increase the Second Layer, and so, already we get this really interesting Blend Effect. We can also change the Input values of the Second Layer.
So right now we're using the RGBA, but we can also just use the Grey, we can also just use the Red, Green, Blue or Alpha, which is not that cool in this case. But if you could see here, it's starting to look like it's somewhat organic. Of course, we can Invert the Second Layer as well, but what I'm going to do, I'm going to take this back to RGBA and I'm going to crank this up a little bit too much, and again, because we're Blending Modes, we can use, say the Overlay Blend Mode. Now that's starting to look like something that's pretty awesome and we can even take this down just a little bit, so you can see just, a little bit of my reflection in there, it's kind of hanging out and maybe we could take this to a Soft Light for a more gentle effect.
But I think this is a pretty awesome result. I mean I want to above this up a little bit more, so we can get a little bit of that Green color. I can also maybe go in and add a bulge effect to this. So that it kind of makes this poof out a little bit more. But you get the idea that you can really perform some interesting Channel Calculations as you combine multiple layers from all across your composition, and I don't have to remind you how terrible our starting points were. I mean this doesn't look like much of anything, but with Calculations, bringing in another Channel, using Blend Modes with that Channel, we do have kind of an interesting effect.
These highlights are brought out more, the shadows are kind of giving way to the reflection here and the results are quite awesome.
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