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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 element of cinematic color-- It's actually nothing to do with color at all, but as far as like colorizing the frame and shaping the frame, one of the thing that's really popular is creating a vignette, basically darkening the edges. And it's another way to draw in focus. In the same way that cinematographer might use depth of field to maybe make this tree in focus or this shrubbery in focus and then make the background out of focus, to basically focus your eye somewhere, we can kind of do the same thing with the vignette. The look is very cool.
So, here is what we are going to do. We are going to be doing some steps. We are going to be talking about masks a little bit, but really, we are not going to have the masks discussion until a little bit later on this training series. So, a lot of these steps I just want you to follow along, but you might not know what we're doing just yet, but that's okay. I am going to right-click in a blank area of the Timeline panel to create a new solid, and we want this to be the comp size, so click Make Comp Size, click the color swatch, make sure this is black, and that's R 0, G 0, B 0. That's how you know it's pure black, click OK, click OK to make it solid, and then go up here in the toolbar at the top of the interface, and then find the shape here and hold this icon down and select the Ellipse tool.
And then once you select the Ellipse tool, you'll see that there in the Tools panel. This is a little unconventional, but this is what I want you to do anyways. Go ahead and double-click this icon in the Tools panel and that will create a full-sized ellipse inside our area, and actually what that's done is create a mask [00:01:30.1] so that this black solid is now masked off in this ellipse. Also opened up a Mask area. If you are not seeing that, you can press the letter M on your keyboard with the Black Solid layer selected, or you can close the layer, open up Masks, and then get to Mask 1.
Over to the right of Mask 1, the mask we just created, there will be a dropdown that says Add. Change this from Add to Subtract, which will invert this so that the edges are dark. Next select the layer and press the letter F. We'll get the Mask Feather property. We are going to soften the edges of our mask. So, I am going to click and drag this to the right. And I am going to drag this pretty high, probably about 200 or so, give or take about 10 or 20 pixels maybe or whatever you feel like you would like to do. And then I am going to select the layer and press the letter T for Opacity.
And I am going to drop the opacity of this layer down to taste, maybe to about 50% or so. And then I can resize this, click away in any blank spot in the Composition panel or Timeline panel to deselect it, and now we have our final project, our vignette here. And to see the before and after of the vignette, I want you to look at the corners. So, we have-- I am going to turn the Black Solid layer off. And so here is the original and then here is with the vignette. Now notice that the leaves here and the couch really aren't affected very much, but our focus wants to go there more after applying the vignette.
So, the vignette, the darkening of the edges, basically tells the viewer, "Hey, don't look here. There is nothing of import here for you to be worried about right now. Focus on the center of the screen where the action is. There are just too much to focus on here." A lot of filmmaking is basically directing the viewer's attention and focus and when everything is in focus like this and everything is giving an equal amount of weight, the viewer kind of gets fatigued looking around trying to figure out where to look. So, we guide the viewer's eye by creating this vignette saying, look here in the center.
Don't bother with these edges. And the viewer might not pick up on this. They might notice the vignette, probably won't and shouldn't, but they will sense it. This is naturally where their eyes will be focused. So, if you want to add that extra element to create that vignette, that's how you do it.
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