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After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency
Illustration by John Hersey

Using RotoBezier masks


From:

After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Using RotoBezier masks

If you're already used to drawing paths in Photoshop or Illustrator, you probably find Bezier paths very easy to deal with. I go ahead and play around these handles to move my points after the fact, by holding the Command or Ctrl key, moving my points and moving my handles. However, if you're new to masking, this whole concept of clicking-and-dragging to create mask shapes maybe a bit fiddly and it doesn't feel quite right. Well, there is an alternative in After Effects. First I am going to get rid of this. Layer > Mask and Remove Mask.
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  1. 3m 17s
    1. Overview
      1m 17s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 0s
  2. 28m 53s
    1. Creating basic mask shapes
      5m 7s
    2. Using advanced parametric shapes
      3m 35s
    3. Basic mask shape editing
      4m 35s
    4. Masking in the Layer panel
      1m 55s
    5. Working with mask parameters
      4m 0s
    6. Animating masks
      5m 52s
    7. Creating vignettes
      3m 49s
  3. 25m 56s
    1. Masking with the Pen tool
      6m 44s
    2. Editing a mask path
      6m 19s
    3. Using RotoBezier masks
      4m 32s
    4. Targeting masks for animation
      3m 13s
    5. Setting the first vertex point
      5m 8s
  4. 19m 7s
    1. The basics of variable-mask feathering
      7m 33s
    2. Exploring variable-mask feathering options
      5m 56s
    3. Exploring visual effects applications
      5m 38s
  5. 7m 55s
    1. Exploring mask modes
      3m 58s
    2. Fading mask opacity
      3m 57s
  6. 11m 48s
    1. Using targeted treatments
      2m 35s
    2. Filling mask shapes
      3m 8s
    3. Following mask paths
      6m 5s
  7. 13m 31s
    1. Using alpha mattes
      3m 48s
    2. Grouping track matte pairs
      3m 40s
    3. Working with luma mattes
      3m 52s
    4. Animating mattes
      2m 11s
  8. 10m 0s
    1. Using Stencil Luma
      3m 5s
    2. Using Stencil Alpha
      2m 5s
    3. Using effects with stencils
      2m 20s
    4. Stacking stencils
      2m 30s
  9. 8m 23s
    1. Quizzler challenges
      1m 18s
    2. Quizzler solution one: One word at a time
      3m 53s
    3. Quizzler solution two: Stroke drawing direction
      3m 12s
  10. 11m 18s
    1. Idea corner one: More masks and effects
      2m 50s
    2. Idea corner two: Transition effects
      3m 44s
    3. Idea corner three: Sequenced layers as mattes
      4m 44s
  11. 16m 29s
    1. Understanding track matte rendering order
      5m 48s
    2. Exploring mask interpolation
      10m 41s

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After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency
2h 36m Beginner Mar 23, 2011 Updated Nov 15, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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®.

Topics include:
  • Creating masks using parametric shapes or freeform with the Pen tool
  • Editing and animating masks
  • Combining multiple masks
  • Using one layer to define the transparency of others
  • Explaining the interaction between effects, masks, and mattes
  • Mastering mask animation
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Using RotoBezier masks

If you're already used to drawing paths in Photoshop or Illustrator, you probably find Bezier paths very easy to deal with. I go ahead and play around these handles to move my points after the fact, by holding the Command or Ctrl key, moving my points and moving my handles. However, if you're new to masking, this whole concept of clicking-and-dragging to create mask shapes maybe a bit fiddly and it doesn't feel quite right. Well, there is an alternative in After Effects. First I am going to get rid of this. Layer > Mask and Remove Mask.

And with the Pen tool selected, I am going to enable the RotoBezier option. What RotoBezier does is it eliminates the handles. All you need to do is click a few points in a window and After Effects will automatically calculate a smooth path between them. You don't need to drag handles while you're drawing. However, it is still possible to adjust what is happening through those individual vertexes. I am going to go ahead to Layer > Mask > Remove Mask again.

Zoom in on the bottom part of this flower. I'll give you quick demonstration. Okay, I've got RotoBezier selected. Now I will click and just start defining the outline of this petal. I tend to click the peaks and valleys and let After Effects smooth out my points. However, there are certainly some sections of an image where automatically rounded points don't work, like these hard bends of this stem.

Okay, let's go back and fix some of this. With a normal Bezier mask, if you want to create a sharp corner, you will need to bring out the Convert Vertex tool and break the handles through that particular point so you can have a discontinuous mask shape. With RotoBezier what you do is you hold down Option on Mac or Alt on Windows and you get the change direction cursor, but this time with a dual arrow along its bottom. That indicates you are about the change its tension. While you're doing that, keep a close eye on the Info panel, because it will show you what's happening as you drag.

I'll hold down Option or Alt, start dragging. As I drag in one direction, it gets a squared off path. So I drag in other direction, I get a nice smooth path. See the differences here between sharp and smooth corner. So I get my sharp corner, then I hold down Command on Mac or Ctrl on Windows to get the Selection tool, this solid arrow, and drag it into shape. And now I have some purple points here. So I'll just go ahead and click with the Minus symbol, get rid of those points, hold down Option or Alt, drag to create that sharp corner.

Hold down Command or Ctrl and reposition this the way I want. Option or Alt, change the tension, Command or Ctrl, reposition, no modifier key, delete, Option or Alt, squared off. Command or Ctrl and start dragging these points back to where I want them to get a nice shape. And again, I'm not having to drag out the handles anymore. After Effects is calculating the curve for me. Hold down Command or Ctrl one more time, select my last point, and continue clicking along the outline of my shape.

Again, if you don't have a lot of prior experience using the Pen tool and drawing Bezier masks, I bet you're going to find the RotoBezier tool a bit easier and less fussy and more intuitive to use. You will need to just do some things like square off corners when you've got sharp edges, but in general it's faster than editing Bezier handles. It also animates smoothly. A lot of people like to use RotoBezier for rotoscoping, when they're animating the mask shape as it changes while say a person on screen moves.

Regardless-- and I'll repeat myself-- masking takes practice. Don't do it while the client's looking over your shoulder. Go ahead and get some interesting images, flowers, people, buildings, and get a little bit of practice in and get a degree of comfort using the Pen tool. That way it'll be that much faster and more intuitive and less frustrating on a real job.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency.


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Q: This course was updated on 11/15/2012. What changed?
A: We added a movie that shows our premium subscribers how to use the exercise files, We have also added new sets of exercise files designed for After Effects CS5.5 and After Effects CS6.
 
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