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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®.
Throughout this lesson we've been using still images and movies as our track mattes; however, you can create your own interesting animated track mattes by combining sequences of still images. Let's import a couple and play around with them. Now select my Sources folder, do Command+I on Mac, or Ctrl+I on Windows. And if you've watched the Layer Control After Effects Apprentice training, you maybe familiar with this Muybridge sequence. Drag it a little bit taller here as you can see it. This is a series of photographic images of a person walking along the stage.
Go ahead and select one of these, enable TIFF Sequence, open it up, and now I have a little movie of this man walking. It's a nice black-and-white high contrast. This would make a good luminance matte, but you can go ahead and make your own mattes. For example, I want to do an import again. Go up to ink spots. This is just a series of Trish splashing India ink on paper. She scanned a bunch of them, saved her favorites. I'm going to select one of them. I am going to say TIFF Sequence, and since they don't share the same name I'm going to click on the Force alphabetical order switch.
That means take everybody that's in the folder, whether or not they're in the same numbered sequence or not their names change or whatever, make one sequence out of them in alphabetical order. I'll open that up as an alpha channel. I'll keep that alpha, double-click to open up in the Footage panel and there are a few splats in the sequence. I am going to set frame rates to these guys by opening up Interpret Footage dialog. I'm going to slow this down to something relatively sedate, like even just one frame a second. And when we're playing with Muybridge, I believe we found that 10 frames a second worked well.
I can use the Interpret Footage button or I can just right-click on my footage item and I can get to Interpret Footage from there as well. I'll set that down to 10 frames a second. Let's go ahead and create a new composition. I am going to create it at a common NTSC DV size, give it a useful name, such as animated mattes. Grab an image such as one of these that Sunprints that Crish actually painted and use this as an interesting fill for my new mattes.
Let's start with our ink spots. Throw that it in the top, there is the image, and I'm going to make it an alpha matte for the footage underneath. And now you see the footage underneath fills it. Now I'll make this more interesting. I can go ahead and go back to Switches and enable Frame Blending for the ink spots. This will create a little bit more interesting of a transition as it moves from shape to shape. I'll RAM Preview and now I've got a nice fading matte that goes in between these different shapes. I can go ahead and make this repeat as many times as I want.
Go back to Interpret Footage. Loop 10 times. Make myself a longer composition, such as say 12 seconds. Zoom out by pressing the Minus key and extend these for the entire length of my comp. RAM Preview and now I've got a nice cross-fading random shape matte for my footage underneath. One way of creating an abstract background. I can use that or I can use my Muybridge. Go ahead and right-click on that and also let it loop a bunch of times.
Since we want it to play for a while as well, I'll just go ahead and make it 100 times, drag it in. At once I can go ahead and put it in place of ink spots and toggle my Switches/Modes. Select my fill layer. That's very important. Instead of an alpha matte, the Muybridge is a grayscale so I use it as a Luma Matte instead. Turn off the Muybridge sequence, press S to reveal Scale, scale it down a bit to fill the image, and RAM Preview. And that's of more interesting than just having a black-and-white image going across.
Go ahead and fill it with either an interesting background texture or another animated movie that might include a texture. The goal here is to get you thinking about what you can create on your own to create something unique. I like stock footage. We have a huge library of it. I like shooting footage. We have a couple of cameras. But sometimes you can create some interesting imagery all by yourself either by scanning books that are already in the public domain or just bringing out some art tools and playing around and scanning those results into your computer. The main points we're trying to get you to experiment, have fun, and create your own unique vision.
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