After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency
Illustration by John Hersey

Exploring visual effects applications


From:

After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Exploring visual effects applications

I'd like to show you one more example of using the Mask Feather tool to create a sort of look that might be more common, if say you're a visual effects artist and you're trying to composite a person or an object over brand-new background and want it to seem to be realistic, as if they were shot together. If you have access to the Project files open up VMF_2-Depth of Field starter. Here I have a clock-face over a brand-new background. This clock-face was shot with a very narrow depth of field.
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  1. 3m 17s
    1. Overview
      1m 17s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 0s
  2. 28m 53s
    1. Creating basic mask shapes
      5m 7s
    2. Using advanced parametric shapes
      3m 35s
    3. Basic mask shape editing
      4m 35s
    4. Masking in the Layer panel
      1m 55s
    5. Working with mask parameters
      4m 0s
    6. Animating masks
      5m 52s
    7. Creating vignettes
      3m 49s
  3. 25m 56s
    1. Masking with the Pen tool
      6m 44s
    2. Editing a mask path
      6m 19s
    3. Using RotoBezier masks
      4m 32s
    4. Targeting masks for animation
      3m 13s
    5. Setting the first vertex point
      5m 8s
  4. 19m 7s
    1. The basics of variable-mask feathering
      7m 33s
    2. Exploring variable-mask feathering options
      5m 56s
    3. Exploring visual effects applications
      5m 38s
  5. 7m 55s
    1. Exploring mask modes
      3m 58s
    2. Fading mask opacity
      3m 57s
  6. 11m 48s
    1. Using targeted treatments
      2m 35s
    2. Filling mask shapes
      3m 8s
    3. Following mask paths
      6m 5s
  7. 13m 31s
    1. Using alpha mattes
      3m 48s
    2. Grouping track matte pairs
      3m 40s
    3. Working with luma mattes
      3m 52s
    4. Animating mattes
      2m 11s
  8. 10m 0s
    1. Using Stencil Luma
      3m 5s
    2. Using Stencil Alpha
      2m 5s
    3. Using effects with stencils
      2m 20s
    4. Stacking stencils
      2m 30s
  9. 8m 23s
    1. Quizzler challenges
      1m 18s
    2. Quizzler solution one: One word at a time
      3m 53s
    3. Quizzler solution two: Stroke drawing direction
      3m 12s
  10. 11m 18s
    1. Idea corner one: More masks and effects
      2m 50s
    2. Idea corner two: Transition effects
      3m 44s
    3. Idea corner three: Sequenced layers as mattes
      4m 44s
  11. 16m 29s
    1. Understanding track matte rendering order
      5m 48s
    2. Exploring mask interpolation
      10m 41s

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Watch the Online Video Course After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency
2h 36m Beginner Mar 23, 2011 Updated Nov 15, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, Chris Meyer demonstrates the most common techniques for adding selective transparency to layers in After Effects through the use of masks, track mattes, and stencils. In addition to explaining the tools and basic theory behind transparency, the course covers several practical applications for these techniques, including isolating objects, creating vignettes, and filling text with visual texture. Tutorials on crafting custom transitions and other treatments are also included. Exercise files accompany the course.

The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.

Topics include:
  • Creating masks using parametric shapes or freeform with the Pen tool
  • Editing and animating masks
  • Combining multiple masks
  • Using one layer to define the transparency of others
  • Explaining the interaction between effects, masks, and mattes
  • Mastering mask animation
Subject:
Video
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Exploring visual effects applications

I'd like to show you one more example of using the Mask Feather tool to create a sort of look that might be more common, if say you're a visual effects artist and you're trying to composite a person or an object over brand-new background and want it to seem to be realistic, as if they were shot together. If you have access to the Project files open up VMF_2-Depth of Field starter. Here I have a clock-face over a brand-new background. This clock-face was shot with a very narrow depth of field.

Just this line through here is in focus and as you see as we go to the left which is closer to us, and to the right which is further away, that clock-face is much more blurred. If I wanted to cut out this clock-face and put it over my new background, I'll move a little bit later to where there's more color happening in that background, you would want the feather of this edge to change where it's fairly sharp here but fairly soft here to match that Depth of Field blur. So let's go ahead and do that.

I'm going to select my Clock layer. Again you always seem to select your layer before you start masking, otherwise you can create a Shape layer which we'd demonstrate in a later lesson. I'm going to change to my Pen tool, G toggles between the Feather tool and the Pen tool as of CS6, and start dragging out a mask path. I see you have that magenta color. I'm going press M to reveal the mask point, change it to yellow, something a little less gaudy to look at and continue my mask path.

Seems to come around here basically, pretty nice Bezier path, and I will just create some additional points outside of my frame where the clock-face should be. One more point here, drag a nice rounded edge there, and then close my mask path and reduce more dragging out to where I have a basic mask path that follows the edge of that clock. And if I wanted to make sure that I was drawing that mask in the right place I can double-click the Clock layer to open up its Layer panel.

Make sure my View is set to Masks, turn off the Render switch so I see the original footage behind my mask path, and indeed to see this in context, I am going to take the Layer panel and drag it into the right of this frame, so I can see my comp and my Layer panel side by side. That way my comp, I can turn off the Mask Path Visibility to see my composite while still working with my mask over here in the Layer panel on the right. Now it becomes a lot more viable to play around with that path and get a good initial mask.

Okay, that's a good starter mask but it does not take into account that Depth of Field blur which varies over the arc of this path. No problem, I am going to press G to switch to the Feather tool, click along my path, again it does not need to be right on a vertex, and start dragging out a feathered edge along there. I am going to click along the left side as well to define where the Feather Falloff is, there. I am going to click in the middle and pinch my feather down.

So I'm sharp and have a sharp edge right here in the middle of my composite, and now I can start tweaking these falloffs to make things match the way that I want. Maybe around there, when I have the Feather tool selected, I can press the Command key to turn to Selection tool and move the original path, I'll undo. I'm going to do that with Command on Mac or Ctrl on Window to change the edge around there, and I'm going to tweak my feather points little bit here till I get a composite that I'm happy with.

I think I need to use the spacebar to get the Hand tool to move over here, maybe add a feather point to better control what's happening on this edge down here. So I want a little softer feather happening through there. My feather points close to the mask here. So I have a sharper edge along the top, then as I go along to the left edge, again I've softened up that composite by having little bit more distance between the Feather tool and the original mask path.

If you want by the way, you can combine a Mask Feather tool as traditional mask feathering. I'll press F to get that parameter and that feather will be additive to what's happening with the Mask Feather tool. So I might go ahead and have just little bit of softening there to create a little bit soft transition and drag this feather point in a bit tighter up here to get a sharper edge along the top of my clock. And then if necessary I'll type MM twice to get all the parameters and bump out the mask expansion a bit to tweak in my file composite.

And that's a quick overview of how you use the Mask Feather tool to create better composites between the layers, whether you're trying to create a realistic example like this one or purely graphical example like this one we did earlier.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency .


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Q: This course was updated on 11/15/2012. What changed?
A: We added a movie that shows our premium subscribers how to use the exercise files, We have also added new sets of exercise files designed for After Effects CS5.5 and After Effects CS6.
 
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