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In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.
Another way to combine elements is by using blend modes. Blend modes allow two layers to interact in kind of unique and different ways. We've all seen opacity and we notice how that allows layers to kind of interact in a certain way and blend modes kind of take things to the next level. They are very useful, not just in compositing as we'll talk about also in this movie. And basically, what we're going to do is we're going to be taking two pieces of footage. Here I have like this photo I took by my neighborhood and it's kind of like this quaint little snowy day, and then there's also this footage, which is from detonationfilms.com, which is kind of like this homegrown stock video library online that just sells and even gives away a lot of these really cool effect shots.
So, there are basically some clouds here against a white background. And what we're going to do is we're going to take this and essentially make this composite with those two elements together. I added color effects. We're not going to talk about that in this movie, but basically just added some noise and some of the colors tricks that we've talked about earlier in this training series, but we're going to use blend modes to make this smoke look like it belongs on top of that house, a really cool effect. I'm going to go to the Start comp here and here I've already set up for you the basics of what we're going to be doing.
So, there's no animation applied to the house, just some color correction there, and then I put the smoke in place. So, what we're going to do is select the top layer, the BlackMushroom, and we want to make sure that this column is selected, the modes part, not Switches. So, make sure it looks like this. And in this Normal dropdown, this is where all of our blending modes are and there are loads of them. Generally speaking, these little divider lines are helpful teaching tools because they kind of break these up into categories.
So, these darken and the next group lightens and the next group lightens bright values and darkens dark values, and there is a special effect as we go down. So a whole host of blending modes here. I'm going to take this one into Multiply. What that's going to do is remove the white background and blend the darkness into the house seat. And so there you go. As is the case with most of the darkening modes, the white in the top layer is completely removed and that allows us to put this smoke on top of this house scene and have it look really awesome. Even like the wisps of the smoke are interacting with the clouds beneath them.
So, with green screening, that's not going to work because we have to actually key out the green screen. But sometimes when we have a pure white background or a pure black background, we can use blending modes to get rid of that background for compositing purposes. Now, if we go over to this Main Comp here, this is something we saw earlier, this inspire text where this whip of light comes down and hits it and there's a bunch of little stars. This isn't the only thing to do with compositing. But when you are dealing with motion graphics and you want to create light effects, it's often good to put those little sparkly type things like this into the Add blend mode.
That's basically a lightning blend mode on steroids. It makes everything really, really intense when you're blending bright layers with the layers beneath. So, I recommend getting familiar with these blend modes. Again, I don't think that I've done a project in After Effects ever where I didn't use blend modes at some point. They're just so effective for making things look beautiful and also they're very utilitarian, as we saw here in removing colors. In one fell swoop, and perfectly too.
There's no like little edges of white. We don't have to add refine mattes or anything. It just works. So, blend modes are definitely something worth looking at.
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