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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®.
I want to show you a few more tricks in using masks. We are going to start off with a couple issues you may run into while animating masks that will drive you crazy if you don't know what's going on. Let's say you've created the mask shape and you'd like to animate this mask over time, to say maybe go to another flower, follow movement, etc. First thing you need to do is type M to reveal the mask path and then enable the animation stopwatch for your mask path. Now I can't see anything else on the frame, because I've masked out the rest of the frame. So I'm going to double-click the layer, open up the Layer panel, and now I can see what else is in my frame.
I've got the Render switch turned off so I can see other objects. Let's say for sake of argument later in time like around one second, I want this mask shape to transfer over to one of these other flowers. If I was going to accomplish that by merely transforming or otherwise editing this mask, it will go fine. I am going to double-click it, pick it up and move it, scale it down to get it roughly close to the shape of another flower, and then edit my points from there.
No problem, the mask will interpolate from one shape to another. However, let's say, instead of editing the mask, I decided the better path would be to draw a completely new mask later in time. I've got a mask path selected, and I'm at a later point in time, Keyframe is enabled, everything looks right. I go to my Pen tool and I start clicking around this other flower. But the problem is I'm not editing this path. I'm creating a new mask. Well what went wrong? I had everything selected. Well, After Effects by default assumes if you've got the Pen tool out you're trying to create a mask, you're not trying to animate an existing mask, but there is a way to work around that.
I am going to delete this new mask I was creating. While in the Layer panel I am going to look in the bottom for this very important popup called Target, Mask Target. When I start using the Pen tool, who am I targeting? If it is set to None, which is the default, it means you want to draw out by a new mask shape. But if I set this Target to the name of an existing mask, it says, "Oh, I see what you're trying to do. You're trying to edit this mask. That's fine." So now, when you start to draw your new mask shape, After Effects knows you're editing this selected mask and now it will indeed interpolate in between those two shapes.
That will drive you crazy and you have no idea how to fix it, because you just won't even see this popup hidden off in the Layer panel. Okay, that's one problem. Second problem. Notice how this shape is kind of rotating as it goes from one to another? That's because the order that you draw all these points is very important when you animate mask shapes. That's what we'll tackle the next movie.
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