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Creating and using masks

From: After Effects CS5 Essential Training

Video: Creating and using masks

In this movie and throughout this chapter we are going to be examining one of the key features of After Effects, and that is working with masks. Masks do quite a bit, but mainly they remove pieces of the layer. Let's look at this simple example here. I have these two video clips and if I take off the visibility of the top one, we have this guy talking about olives and then we also have a shot of some olives with some olive sorting. What we are going to do is create an effect, kind of like a screen split effect like they have on the TV show '24', where we have the hand over here doing some sorting of the olives and then we also will isolate this guy so it will just be him talking.

Creating and using masks

In this movie and throughout this chapter we are going to be examining one of the key features of After Effects, and that is working with masks. Masks do quite a bit, but mainly they remove pieces of the layer. Let's look at this simple example here. I have these two video clips and if I take off the visibility of the top one, we have this guy talking about olives and then we also have a shot of some olives with some olive sorting. What we are going to do is create an effect, kind of like a screen split effect like they have on the TV show '24', where we have the hand over here doing some sorting of the olives and then we also will isolate this guy so it will just be him talking.

So, we are going to get rid of this other stuff around the background and we are going to focus on only this little piece over here on the right-hand side. So, first let's select the olive sorting O2 layer and then we will go open the toolbar here and we are going to select the Rectangle tool at the top. What we are going to do is, again, making sure that this layer is selected, we are going to click and drag in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and that looks about right there. So, instantly you will see what we have done here.

We have isolated just this one little piece of the layer. Now, this is not like keying. This is not like the Roto Brush tool, where we were isolating just the hand itself. We are just creating a section of that layer and now you can see the rest of the layer is transparent, showing through to the layer beneath. Now, we are going to come back to this layer here. I am going to turn off its visibility temporarily, close it up, and then select the TourRon_Intro_B_02 layer and what we are going to do is move to a section where both of his hands are in frame. Unfortunately, for the design of this particular project, we are going to have to chop off a little bit of his hand. Sorry Mr. Ron.

But we are going to select that layer and with the Rectangle tool selected, we're going to click and drag again on this layer. And we are getting a black background now because now there's nothing else behind this layer, so we are just seeing the transparency. So, what I am going to do is now turn on both layers and we see that we have some issues here, some overlap, so we need to do some designing. So, I am going to select the Selection tool in the toolbar. I am going to click and drag these layers to now move these around.

And I am also going to come down here to the Timeline panel,and with the layer selected, press S to reveal their Scale properties, so we can adjust them. So, I will take the olive sorting, scale this down to, maybe put this up in the corner, somewhere around there. And we will select Ron and we will Scale him down just a little bit. Let me take this olive sorting one down a little bit more and then spread them out, like so. I don't trust my eyes to be a good judge of distance.

So, what I am going to do is open up the Align panel. If it's not showing, go to Window > Align. And then what we are going to do is click on one of the layers and then Shift+Click the other layers so they are both selected, and then in the Align panel on the right-hand side we want to align the top. Vertical top alignment button, go ahead and click that. Now they are both aligned and we could maybe move this over just a little bit. And then we have this kind of '24' like scenario, where we have two different clips playing at the same time.

And while he is talking about olive sorting, you are actually seeing it go on at the same time. Now, we could have just scaled the layer down rather than cropping it with the mask. But the point of the mask is that we can focus on the part of the layer that really matters. So, we don't have to worry about all the extra trees in the scene. We don't have to worry about the extra pair of hands in the scene. We just see like just the olives and just the hand, that makes the action seem a little bit more intense when we are really focused in on it like this. Now, let's look at another example of what masks are good for.

I am going to go to the picture frame composition and in this composition we have just the little graphic of a picture frame. Kind of cheesy a little bit, but it will illustrate our point perfectly. So, here's our picture frame. And underneath this picture frame, we have a layer of this beautiful photo here, this couple longingly looking at each other on the beach. So, what we are going to do is we are going to actually use a mask, not to isolate a certain subject here or part of the frame, but actually to cut a hole through this center section so we can see the layers beneath it.

So, with the picture frame layer selected, I am going to select the Rectangle tool once more. In the upper left-hand corner, I am going to click and drag down. I realize this is kind of weird looking. I will explain that in just a second. But click and drag down to the bottom corner of the frame. If you go too far outside, you are actually going to see some of the frames. So, actually we are going to come down here and make sure that our mask here is about the exact same size, as close as we can get it, to the black area inside the frame. Now, there are different mask modes.

In the olive oil composition we just looked at, the masks revealed part of the layer. But what we want do here is not to reveal part of the layer but to conceal this part of the layer. So, what I can do is come down here to the picture frame comp and this layer, and we can open up Masks and across for Mask 1 will have this dropdown that says Add. That's the default mask mode, meaning that whatever is in the mask we'll add to the layer. But we actually wanted the opposite. Whatever is in the mask, we want to subtract from the layer.

So, in this dropdown change it from Add to Subtract, and we will remove that part of the layer, allowing the layers beneath to show through, thereby creating a true picture frame. Now, these are vector masks. If you are familiar with Illustrator, it's pretty much the same thing. What we can do is go back and get our Selection tool and we could click on the mask and we could actually move components of the layer. I am actually going to undo that. We could click individual points. I shall click away to deselect and then click back to select one of these points.

And we can move these points around. They are again vector and fully controllable and adjustable. We could even click a line segment and move that. So, we have total control over what this mask is like. Again, I am not going to go too far into it in this training series. But if you are familiar with Illustrator, again we can add additional points to create some curvature, have Bezier curves that we adjust and scale and all of that as well. So, that's kind of like the introduction to masks.

Now let's go on into the next movie. We are going to look at a few more of the options that we have with masks in the Timeline panel here.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for After Effects CS5 Essential Training
After Effects CS5 Essential Training

111 video lessons · 67410 viewers

Chad Perkins
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 5m 40s
    1. Introduction
      1m 30s
    2. What is After Effects?
      3m 12s
    3. How to use the exercise files
      58s
  2. 28m 14s
    1. After Effects workflow overview
      2m 18s
    2. Bringing elements into After Effects
      2m 23s
    3. Adding elements to the Timeline
      1m 57s
    4. Working with layers
      3m 45s
    5. Creating animation with presets
      3m 24s
    6. Applying effects
      3m 34s
    7. Creating animation without presets
      5m 38s
    8. Previewing your work
      2m 46s
    9. Exporting content as a movie file
      2m 29s
  3. 27m 20s
    1. Touring the interface
      6m 2s
    2. How After Effects projects work
      4m 47s
    3. What is a composition?
      4m 52s
    4. Tips for adding content to compositions
      2m 49s
    5. Understanding the properties of video
      8m 50s
  4. 57m 8s
    1. Importing an Illustrator file
      4m 57s
    2. Animation basics
      7m 12s
    3. Animating opacity
      6m 40s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      4m 57s
    5. Animating position
      6m 8s
    6. Animating rotation
      4m 41s
    7. Animating scale
      7m 19s
    8. Using the Puppet tool
      7m 13s
    9. Copying and pasting keyframes
      3m 4s
    10. Animation shortcuts
      4m 57s
  5. 9m 42s
    1. Understanding precomposing
      6m 51s
    2. Navigating through compositions quickly
      2m 51s
  6. 1h 12m
    1. A showcase of effects
      2m 34s
    2. Creating a layer for effects
      3m 1s
    3. Applying effects
      4m 54s
    4. Animating effect properties
      4m 29s
    5. Using Glow
      5m 34s
    6. Creating patterns and textures
      6m 57s
    7. Creating a fireball
      7m 9s
    8. Using the Cycore effects
      5m 58s
    9. Adding blur
      5m 45s
    10. Creating a galaxy scene from scratch
      8m 38s
    11. Distorting objects with effects
      4m 7s
    12. Creating and using lens flares
      4m 21s
    13. Creating lightning bolts
      4m 3s
    14. Viewing random variations with Brainstorm
      4m 39s
  7. 30m 52s
    1. Shortening the duration of layers
      4m 23s
    2. Trimming in the Footage panel
      4m 14s
    3. Slowing and accelerating video speed
      7m 9s
    4. Applying video transitions between clips
      6m 7s
    5. Working with image sequences
      4m 47s
    6. Importing footage with an alpha channel
      4m 12s
  8. 36m 11s
    1. Brightening dark footage
      9m 12s
    2. Changing colors in footage
      6m 34s
    3. Creating cinematic color treatments
      8m 17s
    4. Creating a quick vignette
      3m 42s
    5. Colorizing black-and-white objects
      4m 50s
    6. Using adjustment layers
      3m 36s
  9. 21m 9s
    1. Creating and editing text
      7m 39s
    2. Applying text animation presets
      4m 41s
    3. Animating text manually
      4m 43s
    4. Applying layer styles to text
      4m 6s
  10. 28m 58s
    1. Let's get better
      37s
    2. Using work areas
      3m 37s
    3. Creating markers
      6m 17s
    4. Replacing layers
      2m 35s
    5. Mastering Timeline navigation
      3m 18s
    6. Aligning and distributing layers
      3m 4s
    7. Selecting layers quickly
      1m 56s
    8. Cropping layers
      3m 43s
    9. Adjusting comp resolution
      3m 51s
  11. 23m 53s
    1. Using the paint tools
      9m 35s
    2. Using the Roto Brush tool
      9m 25s
    3. Animating growing vines
      4m 53s
  12. 40m 29s
    1. Creating and using masks
      6m 42s
    2. Exploring mask options
      7m 57s
    3. Creating masks with Auto-trace
      6m 51s
    4. Masking objects with other objects
      5m 33s
    5. Making shape layers
      3m 43s
    6. Modifying shape layers
      9m 43s
  13. 30m 44s
    1. Turning 2D layers into 3D layers
      9m 22s
    2. Creating lights and cameras
      6m 14s
    3. Creating shadows
      4m 23s
    4. Using depth of field
      4m 42s
    5. Working with 3D effects
      6m 3s
  14. 18m 10s
    1. Removing a green screen background
      4m 37s
    2. Refining the matte
      4m 48s
    3. Compositing with color adjustments
      4m 50s
    4. Compositing with blend modes
      3m 55s
  15. 25m 44s
    1. Understanding spatial interpolation
      2m 5s
    2. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      3m 55s
    3. Orienting moving objects along a path
      1m 29s
    4. Drawing motion with Motion Sketch
      2m 51s
    5. Creating pauses in animation
      3m 6s
    6. Understanding temporal interpolation
      1m 56s
    7. Easing keyframes
      5m 57s
    8. About the Graph Editor
      4m 25s
  16. 12m 13s
    1. Stabilizing shaky footage
      7m 46s
    2. Tracking the motion in footage
      4m 27s
  17. 24m 58s
    1. Setting up parent layers
      5m 49s
    2. Working with null objects
      2m 31s
    3. What are expressions?
      7m 17s
    4. Modifying simple expressions
      2m 20s
    5. Using the wiggle expression
      7m 1s
  18. 6m 52s
    1. Understanding audio in motion graphics
      1m 22s
    2. Previewing and mixing audio
      3m 55s
    3. Enhancing audio tracks with effects
      1m 35s
  19. 11m 36s
    1. Adding comps to the Render Queue
      2m 30s
    2. Exploring key Render Queue settings
      4m 11s
    3. How should I export my video?
      4m 55s
  20. 7m 16s
    1. Using Photoshop with After Effects
      2m 10s
    2. Using Illustrator with After Effects
      3m 2s
    3. Using Flash with After Effects
      2m 4s
  21. 11s
    1. Goodbye
      11s

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