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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®.
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.
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