After Effects CS5 New Creative Techniques
Illustration by John Hersey

Subtract mode


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After Effects CS5 New Creative Techniques

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

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Video: Subtract mode

I love blending modes. They're one of my favorite motion graphics design tools and a lot of my tricks are based around using modes. Well After Effects CS5 got two brand new modes. The first one is Subtract. Here I have some footage of some gears and on top I have footage of this abstract black-and-white graph, like that. And I want to blend them together using modes. I can either click on the Toggle Switches / Modes button here at the bottom or press F4 which is the keyboard shortcut and blend them together.
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Watch the Online Video Course After Effects CS5 New Creative Techniques
2h 37m Intermediate Apr 12, 2010

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After Effects CS5 New Creative Techniques was created and produced by Trish and Chris Meyer. We are honored to host their material in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.

Chris and Trish Meyer have been using After Effects since version 1.0 and have written ten books about the program, and they are always among the first to dive into each new version and discover what it offers to their fellow motion graphics artists. Chris takes you under the hood and explains how each new feature works in After Effects CS5. This course covers both the technical and creative implications of this latest release, including tutorials on the new Roto Brush tool and mocha version 2, blending modes, text options, and new and improved user interface elements in Adobe After Effects CS5. Numerous examples show the most efficient ways to use the new features and avoid potential pitfalls when applying techniques. Chris ends with a discussion of which users will get them most out of upgrading to After Effects CS5.

Topics include:
  • Reviewing After Effects' 64-bit system requirements
  • Mastering the new Roto Brush tool plus Refine Matte
  • Warping with FreeForm
  • Motion tracking with mocha version 2
  • Matting with mocha shape, including adding motion blur
  • Extruding in 3D with Repoussé
  • Importing RED footage
  • Using Color Finesse and updated blending modes
Subject:
Video
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Subtract mode

I love blending modes. They're one of my favorite motion graphics design tools and a lot of my tricks are based around using modes. Well After Effects CS5 got two brand new modes. The first one is Subtract. Here I have some footage of some gears and on top I have footage of this abstract black-and-white graph, like that. And I want to blend them together using modes. I can either click on the Toggle Switches / Modes button here at the bottom or press F4 which is the keyboard shortcut and blend them together.

Previously we had a mode called Difference. Difference is kind of like Subtract, in that it subtracts the pixel values of one layer from another layer but it's an absolute value, and creates these strange intermediate grays. Rather than things just going to black, we will get these color wraparounds it, a bit psychedelic but quite often they really aren't all that pleasing. On After Effects CS5, they've added a new one called Subtract and Subtract does exactly what you expect it to do.

It subtracts the pixel values of the layer on top, in this case, the white lines against the black background, white being high value pixels, black being low value pixels, and subtracts those values from the gear, creating nice black lines underneath. This is how you expect Subtract to work. And a really nice thing about Subtract is that it even works in 32-bit floating-point mode. You can end up with values less than one as you subtract one layer from another. For example, if I go over here and hold down the Option on Mac or Alt on Windows to toggle into floating-point mode, and hover my cursor over this really black area, look in the upper right corner for the RGB values.

You see they have actually gone negative and the nice thing about that is that I then bring on another layer on top in Add mode or Screen mode, it can add those negative values and bring them back positive again. I haven't lost them forever. So it's a nice little blending mode that basically works the way you thought Difference was going to work, and you can use it in place of Difference when you are trying to do things like Difference matting. Again just to remind you, Difference or Classic Difference creates a psychedelic look, values wraparound, and they are greater than zero rather than going down below zero. Classic Difference just handles the blacks little bit differently.

You can't really see it most of the time. It's out time we got Subtract. Glad they put that in there.

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