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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®.
You may remember earlier in this lesson where we were showing you a couple of ideas of how to combine multiple mask shapes. For example, set the second one to None. We created an oval to cut out the middle of our layer. There is the transparency grid just to see what it looks like. I am going to rename that Oval Mask. Then we added back in this animated leaf mask we've been playing around with to go ahead and see part of the footage that was underneath. I am going to go ahead and name this leaf mask. Just for fun I am going to add one more mask shape, just to have it interact.
Select the Rectangle tool and drag it along the bottom here. Let's pick a different mode such as Difference, which shows a more complex interaction between it and the other mask shapes on top. Name that rectangle bar, there. The whole point of creating these mask shapes on a layer is to create transparency. Now when you have transparency you can put something else behind, even if it's just another copy of the shape.
Let's go ahead and take this. Duplicate it so we have a copy on top that also has these mask shapes. I'll go ahead and delete the masks on the layer behind. Now initially everything looks the same but you can start having some fun. For example take the layer with the mask and apply Effect > Perspective > Drop Shadow. I could also have applied Layer > Layer Styles > Drop Shadow, or for that matter any of these various Glow effects. I am going to set my Distance down to 0 to center up the mask, increase the Softness, increase the Opacity so you can see it, turn off my mask outlines for now so you can see what's going on.
And now I've created this really cool kind of ghosted embossed look. But this is not an emboss effect I am applying to a piece of footage; I am just using mask shapes to get me the outlines I want, then using effects to help define where the edges of those masks are. If I wanted to, I can go ahead and further process the background. For example, I might scale it up a little bit, just get a little disconnect between the two, or I could apply something like the simple Blur > Fast Blur, give it a little bit of softening as well, just create a defocused look.
You see how quick and easy it is to create some very unique looks that really draw the user's attention to specific areas of the screen, just by using mask shapes and a couple simple effects. This is not any great magic. This is not a lot of time spent in a paint program. These are just a couple of tricks you've already learned in After Effects.
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