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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®.
So by now you're familiar with the concept of what a track matte does. It's a pair of layers where the layer on top contributes transparency either through its alpha channel or its luminance values and that is used as a new alpha for the layer immediately underneath. A variation on this theme are stencils. Stencils cut out everything underneath, not just a single layer that happens to be underneath the transparency layer. Let's see that at work. I am going to open up a new comp here. 11-Stencil Luma*starter.
Just to show you what I've done I've created an interesting little composite here. I've taken our Cityscape layer and used an Invert effect to make it look more graphical, and then I applied the VirtualInsanity layer on top and used a blend mode, Overlay, to make things look more interesting. Blend modes were discussed in the Layer Control lesson. Let's say I want to track matte to cut through both of these layers. Well, I could apply it twice and have it cut out each of these individually, or I can use stencils. I am going to go down, pick out our Cloud Matte that we used earlier.
Again, this is just grayscale values of this smoke emerging from the side of the screen and rather than use something underneath the Track Matte header, I actually need to go underneath the Blending Mode header. I'll choose Stencil Luma. Luma for Luminance, and now the grayscale values of the Cloud matte will be imposed on all of the layers underneath, including my composite of those two other layers. You'll see it emerge there. Again this is stacking order sensitive. Drag it a little wider here, so you see the whole name.
If I drag the Cloud Matte Stencil between these two layers, the stencil will only cut out the layer underneath, the Cityscape layer. Now, the VirtualInsanity layer is affecting the entire composite. Drag it on top and now it'll cut out both of those layers underneath. Another difference with stencils compared to track mattes is with track mattes you had Luma and Luma Inverted, but with stencils you have Stencil or Silhouette. Silhouette is an inverted stencil and you'll see it gives us the opposite result.
Here's the transparency with the transparency grid. I'll go back to Stencil Luma and there's the transparency grid. So stencils are kind of like overachieving track mattes. They cut out everything underneath. Now a caveat, if you wanted to put this composite over a background, you could not put the background in this comp. The stencil would cut out the background as well. You would need to use this group as a composition, drag that comp as if it was one layer, one footage item into another comp, then composite it over background just like we showed you earlier with track mattes.
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