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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 have heard the joke that when a person owns a hammer suddenly every problem looks like a nail. Well you need to be careful of the same phenomena in After Effects. Just because you learn one tool or one technique, don't think that's the only way to do every problem which comes your way. For example, take these transitions. Given that we've been spending so much time showing masking and doing transitions with masking, you might think that these transitions were also done with masks. Well you would be wrong. Let me show you how these were created. For example, this Cityscape Dissolve is not a bunch of masks, but instead is an effect called Block Dissolve.
We've set a really tall block height to be vertical bands, a block width that defines these strips, and then animated on the transition to go ahead and bring these strips of our video on. And Block Dissolve can create many other looks as well. I just play around with the Width and Height parameters and maybe a little bit of feathering as well. Similarly this title dissolve that was brought on, you may think may be an animated mask, but if we type U to reveal the animating properties you'll find instead it's an effect called Linear Wipe.
Quite often people just use a Linear Wipe effect, which wipes from one edge of a layer to another edge of a layer, instead of bothering with creating a mask and animating it. The nice thing about Linear Wipe is you have some other control over which is what angle the wipe takes place. Feathering, so you don't need to worry about feathering masks and that the feather isn't encroaching on the image itself. It's actually an easier way of doing transitions than just using masks. There are other transition effects as well. If you go underneath Effect > Transition, you'll find lots of very cool ones.
To a lot of these CC or Cycore effects create some very interesting looks. Particularly like Light Wipe and Scale Wipe and Twister can create some very fanciful effects and the standard Adobe Iris Wipe, Linear Wipe, Radial Wipe, Venetian Blinds can also create some pretty stock transitions. If you're looking for inspiration, go to your Effects & Presents panel and Browse Presets. Inside Bridge you'll see we have a few different folders of already built transitions. Some of them use masks, some of them use effects. For example, here's a few different transitions which use the Block Dissolve effect, just with different settings. Here's some that use mask shapes and mask opacity to create some interesting looks.
And then other ones that are plug-in effect-based, including some distortion effects during transitions, and some blurs, some other intersecting looks. In addition to this folder there are also ones that actually create a movement, such as flying pieces the object around in 3D space, this uses an effect in After Effects called Card Wipe. Various stretches and movement effects and then some wipe effects and again these can use either mask shapes to go ahead and create these transitions or more conventional plug-in effects to do radial wipes, iris wipes, etcetera.
Now masking is powerful and you can't create a lot of cool custom looks with masking, but there's more than one way to solve the problem. And go ahead and spend some time in exploring those alternate ways so you've got a toolkit of fresh ideas in your next job.
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