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Let Chris and Trish Meyer share with you two of the core secrets required to become an efficient After Effects user: understanding the render order (the internal order of operations After Effects uses when calculating masks, effects, transformation, track mattes, and layer styles) and the use of multiple compositions where a composition may be nested into one or more other comps. This makes it easier to group layers, efficiently re-use a common element to quickly accommodate client changes, pan around large composites of multiple layers, and solve render order issues.
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®.
Chris Meyer: For our first challenge we had this precomp which had a couple of layers composited together. It uses an element in a master comp where it received a soft feathered mask. Our challenge was how to work the contents inside the mask without altering the mask shape. We cannot apply the effect directly to this precomp because it would alter the contents of the precomp and the mask. If I go Effect > Distort > Warp and try out different shapes such as Bulge, Inflate, Twist, etcetera, you'll see that not only is the content altered, but the mask shape is altered.
That's because masks render before effects inside After Effects. This is normally very handy. It means you are going to apply a drop shadow into a mask shape and the shadow would fall from the mask cutout. But it gets in your way in a situation like this where you want to affect just the content but not the mask. Well, we have a couple of different solutions for you. Open up the Quizzler Solutions folder and inside Quiz 1_solution1 is our first solution. Our first approach was to use an adjustment layer.
We'll go back to the start of this composition. This adjustment layer has the Warp affect applied. Remember whenever you want to apply the same and a unifying effect to multiple layers, you don't need or even necessarily want to apply the same effect to each layer. You put a Layer > New > Adjustment Layer above everybody, then apply the effect to that adjustment layer. That effect will now alter the composite of all the layers underneath. Now that we have a warp source, we just go ahead and use it normally inside the second composition.
Use the same mask unaffected and we get our desired result. Another solution is to leave the precomp alone. Don't apply any effects back here, but instead alter the final composition. What we've done is applied the wrap effect to our composite background of precomp inside this composition. But rather than using a mask on this layer, instead we cut the mask from this layer and paste it to a solid above. There is the mask shape.
I'll temporarily turn this on and solo it and look at its transparency. Now though we have a masked solid, we can borrow the channel of the solid on top and use it to control the transparency of the layer underneath. I'll turn off solo, I'll turn off this on video switch, and you'll see I've used indeed as an alpha matte for our treated precomp. So that's another solution. Remember you don't always need to use masks directly on layers. You can apply a mask to other layers and then use them as stencils or track mattes to cut out the layers underneath.
So its two different solutions of how to sort the rendering order, to warp the contents inside the mask without altering the mask shape.
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