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Adjustment layers give you the ability to apply an effect to an invisible layer. But the position of that layer allows you to determine exactly how many layers you'd like that effect to apply to. So it's great to make overall adjustments to a composition, or multiple layers in a composition. Let's check out the project we're looking at, and see how we can use Adjustment layers to make it look a little bit better. I'm going to load up a Ram preview. And after the first few seconds of loading, you can go ahead and press your Spacebar to begin playback.
As you can see, we have kind of a bland track and field animation here because there's been no color treatment or anything chosen for the images. It's just kind of a rough animation. Let's go ahead and use an Adjustment layer to add a little bit more style, in a sense a visual separation of all the different elements. I'm going to press the Spacebar to stop playback. Now, to create an Adjustment layer, you can go up under the Layer menu. If you don't have the comp panel active or the timeline panel active, make sure one of them is active. Then, Layer > New > Adjustment Layer. Now that we have an Adjustment layer on the top of the layer hierarchy, you should notice nothing has changed.
That's because we need to apply an effect. Now since I want to kind of colorize everything that's going on in this scene, I'm going to use a color effect. So let's go up under Effect > Color Correction > Tint. Tint takes the entire image and makes it black and white. And then it allows you to selectively add color back into the scene based on the Luminance values of white or black. So let's go ahead and change the White option. Click on the white rectangle and change the color to kind of a dark red. Now, this is going to be rather drastic, but we can change how much this tints the object a little bit later.
So let's click OK. (SOUND) And now under amount to Tint, let's decrease this just a little bit. We'll bring it down to around 82%. That's fine. Now we have the Adjustment layer in our layer hierarchy. I'm going to rename this red. So just press Return on your keyboard and type red. (SOUND). Now, let's bring the words track and field back up visually by just dragging the red layer underneath the words track and field. Now, I can clearly see those words and it's very obvious what the dominant player in the graphic is.
We still want to kind of add a little bit more separation with these background elements as well. So let's see if we can bring those back in. If you click on Layer 3 and then Shift+click on Layer 8, we'll set all the layers that create that part of the graphic. Notice these video boxes are being controlled by a null object. Sometimes it makes more sense to go ahead and precompose as opposed to using an adjustment layer. This is one of those times. I want to isolate all of these layers, but I like how the animation's already set up. With Layers 3 through 8 selected, I'll go up under the Layer > Pre-compose. You can leave the default settings and just click OK. Now our pre-comp is its own layer in the timeline. And we could bring it right above our red layer. Now the red is only affecting the background video, these lines and then a dark black box which is underneath these video layers. That's great, but I still want to stylize these middle layers. So let's select our pre-comp layer, Layer 2 and then go up under Effect. And this time I want to adjust their brightness. So let's go to Color Correction and we'll add a Levels adjustment. (SOUND).
Now I want to kind of heighten the contrast while creating the brightness. So if we look at our levels histogram, this is a visual representation of all the brightness involved in that scene. First thing we need to do is click here on the arrow all the way on the right side. Because there isn't much information here in the histogram, we want to go ahead and click and drag this back towards the left. And notice the closer we get to this information, the brighter the scene's going to be. Let's leave it right around the middle there. If we look at the left side, this information controls the dark pixels in the image.
So, I can go ahead and click and drag on that left triangle, and bring it back towards the right a little bit. And this is known as Crushing the Black Levels. As you can see, it's making the image very, very dark. Now, we're ready to preview our animation one more time. Let's go ahead and press 0 on the keypad and load up our Ram preview. After the first few seconds of loading, go ahead and press the Spacebar to check out the animation. I'm going to stop playback here. When it comes to adjustment layers, they do function just like any other layer. So if at any point you decided that you wanted to actually mask off a section of the Adjustment layer, you can definitely do that. So just to give you an example, let's do that to our project. Go up to the Shape tools and make sure that you have the Rectangle tool selected. I'm just clicking and holding to bring up all the different options. As long as I have layer three selected, when I start to drag with the Rectangle tool, it's automatically going to start masking off that layer. Let's go ahead and drag it to about half way down, our lower box images. Now, if we open up the Mask options, we can go ahead and click and drag on the feather parameter in the timeline.
Now we're feathering the adjustment. And as you notice, it's created kind of a soft gradient from the red into the bottom dark area. When it comes to creating Adjustment layers, they give you the ability to apply effect to multiple layers. But they also give you the same flexibility as any other layer, because you can actually control their visibility with masking.
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