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After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency
Illustration by John Hersey

Using Stencil Luma


From:

After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Using Stencil Luma

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.
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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 Stencil Luma

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.

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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