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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®.
In addition to having some effects that can draw inside of a mask path, some effects can also draw along with the mask path itself. In the case of Scribble, which we just showed off in a previous movie, you can go ahead and have it do it along the so- called Edge, which is your mask path. But there are also other effects that can stroke that edge or even draw audio waveforms along that edge. Let's play with a couple of those. I'll go back to my project and open up the Comp 07-RotoBezier*starter. Here I have just an interesting flowing background. Again if you don't have access to the exercise files, just bring in any abstract background and you can go ahead and draw a path along it as well.
Now the first thing I want to do is draw a path that I want my effect to follow. To do that I am going to select the Pen tool and I am going to go ahead and use the RotoBezier option. This way I just need to click a few points and After Effects will automatically fill in the curves between those points. RotoBezier also happens to animate very smoothly. And start clicking and drawing few points just generally following this flowing shape here, coming off the screen there. I am going to use effects to draw along this line so I don't need to come back around and close my mask path.
I'll just return to the Selection tool and now I have what's referred to as an open mask shape. The outline is yellow, which is kind of hard to see against this white so I am going to click on the swatch for Mask 1 and change its color to something like red, something that's very visible. Now this background image happens to animate and I want my line to more or less animate along with that background. So I am going to go ahead and press M to reveal the mask path, enable the keyframe stopwatch for Mask Path. Now let's just drag along and see when this flow kind of hits another major pose.
Let's say right around there. That's kind of interesting. And then I want to start animating my mask path to follow this shape. By default all of the points are selected. I'll just go ahead and marquee the one I want to move and start bending it roughly in shape. I am not going to worry about precise masking here. I am just going for a fun graphical treatment. There, there, down there, and down there. Maybe I'll pull this a little deeper in like that. There we go. Now let's just go ahead and drag along until we see another major pose maybe something like that.
Pull up some points along there, there, there, back up again like around there and just go to some other flow pose like this last one here. Again not being too precise. Just having fun. Move that point up, down. Watching someone else mask I know is very boring. But I want to give you an idea about the process we go through when we actually do this work.
There, and down around there. I'll drag that point out. Okay, let's drag the Current Time Indicator. So it kind of bounces around. It doesn't exactly follow it. I could add more keyframes if I wanted to. But this is fine for what I want to demonstrate in this movie. I have my layer still selected and I'll go search for Stroke to draw a stroke along my mask path. Drag that onto my layer. The color white aren't very visible against the white background so I'll change it to something like purple to go ahead and echo this line. Make it a little bit bigger so you can see what's going on, and turn off my mask path visibility.
And there's my stroked line. It's kind of bouncing around with it. I might pick a slightly contrasting color, something a little more light such as that and the fun thing with Stoke by the way is that it's actually a series of dots. When the spacing is very close it looks like a line. But if you increase the spacing you actually get a series of individual dots that are now visible instead of a solid line. That creates a little bit more fun of an animation going along with this layer. Beyond Stroke, there are some effects that can actually draw graphics that are driven by any sound in your composition.
Here in this comp I have an audio track called CoolGroove and I'm going to press the period key on the extended keypad to preview this audio. (Music Playing) Okay, I've got background layer selected. It still has my mask shape on it. And look for audio effects. I'll start typing in audio. I've got 2 choices, Audio Spectrum and Audio Waveform. I will try Spectrum just for fun. Drag that onto my shape and the default is it's just drawing a pretty boring dotted line.
You need to tell it what to draw along and what to follow. So I am going to say draw along Mask 1 and I am going to say follow with the CoolGroove music layer to give it something to respond to. Now when I preview... (Music Playing) You can see the spectrum bouncing along in response to the music. And you can tweak this out little bit. I usually find I need to bring down the End Frequency to get the spectrum along more of my line. Maybe do a little bit of Hue Interpolation so it changes color over the course of that line.
That's a bit more fun. Finally, I need to change the composite. I want to see that original layer underneath. So I just click Composite On Original and there's my line bopping along and bending along as I animated the stroke path. (Music Playing) So this is an entirely different use for mask paths. We're not creating transparency. Instead we're using them to draw lines, swishes, swoops, and other graphical elements and having effects like Vegas, Stroke, Audio Spectrum, Audio Waveform, draw along those mask paths to create interesting graphics.
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