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In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.
So, we've looked at creating masks from scratch. But After Effects also allows you to use other layers as masks. To show you what I'm talking about here, I have some great Artbeats footage. Artbeats is a company that provides stock video and I have two really beautiful clips from them. We're going to be using those here. So, this is what we're looking at here, one of those Artbeats clips, really cool motion graphics. It's an angry motion graphics, if I may say so. Then we also have this text here that says CHAOS.
And ideally, what I'd like is I'd like to use the CHAOS text as kind of like a mask, and I'd like the Artbeats movie to fill in the text, so the text would basically be the Artbeats clip. Then we also have a black background behind everything. Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to go and make sure that I could see the Modes area of the Timeline panel. If I'm not seeing, I can click the Toggle Switches/Modes button, or I could right-click and go to Columns > Modes if I wanted to. What we're going to do is select the CDA102, that's the Artbeats clip, and then in the Track Matte area of the Modes column we're going to select to use the CHAOS Outlines as a mask by going to the dropdown and choosing Alpha Matte "CHAOS Outlines".
What that's going to do is it's going to do exactly what we wanted it to. It's going to have the CHAOS Outlines. There is our outline and then the Artbeats clip is completely gone, except that it now shows up masked within the outlines. So, now as we play this, it says CHAOS and it's all cool and chaotic. Actually, that's a little hard to see. Maybe I need to add some glow to the text or I could also go back to this solid background layer and open up its properties by pressing Command+Shift+Y on the Mac or Ctrl+Shift+Y on the PC.
Click the color awatch and maybe we can make this a little bit brighter, maybe a dark chaotic gray. We'll click OK and that's pretty easy to see what's going on here. I like it. Now from this dropdown, you'll notice that the CHAOS Outlines, the text, is actually invisible. We made this alpha matte as it's called. Basically, matte means mask and alpha is referring to transparency of the layer. So, we're using the transparency of the top layer, the text, as a mask for the Artbeats clip. So, it automatically removes the visibility of that layer.
We could also change this to Alpha Inverted Matte. What that's going to do is it's going to use the transparent area of the CHAOS Outlines as the mask. So, now we're seeing through to the gray layer beneath at the bottom. The Artbeats clip is now around the text. But for this example, that's not really that impressive, because it just looks like we have gray text there. So, I'm going to choose Alpha Matte. It looks pretty good. Now, I'm going to go over to this luma matte comp. This is a little bit more of a mind- bender, because we cannot only use the alpha channel as a mask, but we could also use the luminance, or in other words, the brightness as a mask.
This looks really, really cool, but again it is a little bit of a mind-bender. The bottom layer is a white solid. And then on top of that white solid, I have the same Artbeats clip. On top of that, I have this other Artbeats clip, these cool grayscale textures, like these rectangles flipping around here. So, in this instance, kind of like how we saw with the alpha mMatte example, we're going to be using this layer that you're seeing here as the mask, in other words, as the CHAOS text in this example.
That's what we're going to be using here. But there is no transparency. I mean we can't see anything to the layer beneath it. There is nothing transparent. So, instead of using the transparency of this grayscale layer to create the mask, we're going to use the brightness of this layer to create the mask. So, I'm going to go down to this CDA102 layer and we're going to make the brightness of this layer a mask by choosing Luma Matte. So now, what we've done again is we've used the brightness of the layer as the mask and this CDA102, the chaotic motion graphics, are now showing up where there once was white on the top-layer.
It's showing through the rest of the layer as white, because that's this background solid. So, really what we have is this, and then I've added the white solid in the background so we could really see what's going on. But the results are just absolutely spectacular. I love this. Just beautiful! So, again, the whiteness of the top layer is a mask that reveals the second layer and then it gets rid of everything else. So, all we have is this transparency and that's what we're seeing, the white solid beneath all of that. And again, as before, we can go to Luma Inverted Matte so that the white actually cuts a hole and the black area is what shows through the layer beneath it as well.
So, using this Track Matte dropdown right here, again the layer beneath it is the one that we want to have the content show up of and the mask is the layer that we put on top. That's why there is no dropdown for Track Matte here on this top layer, because there is no layer above it to use as a mask. So, that top layer becomes the stencil, which shows the layer beneath it. So, track mattes are another way that we can basically use masks. We can use the outline or the brightness values of a layer as a mask as well.
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