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Using adjustment layers

From: After Effects CS5 Essential Training

Video: Using adjustment layers

Adjustment layers are basically kind of dummy layers that affect everything beneath them. So, for example, in this scene here, what we are looking at, if I toggle the visibility of these layers, is a composite, which we will be looking at in detail later on in this training series, composite of this video of moving scenery in the background. And then we also have a 3D rendered subway and then we have a few shots of me that was originally shot against a green screen background with the green screen removed, and all kind of smooshed together to form this subway scene here.

Using adjustment layers

Adjustment layers are basically kind of dummy layers that affect everything beneath them. So, for example, in this scene here, what we are looking at, if I toggle the visibility of these layers, is a composite, which we will be looking at in detail later on in this training series, composite of this video of moving scenery in the background. And then we also have a 3D rendered subway and then we have a few shots of me that was originally shot against a green screen background with the green screen removed, and all kind of smooshed together to form this subway scene here.

The problem is that all these things look okay together, but they don't really seem like they belong together as much. So, what we can do is use an adjustment layer to apply the same color adjustment to every layer so that they all kind of look like they belong together a little bit more. So, what I am going to do is go down to the bottom of the Timeline panel and in the blank area here, I am going to right- click and go to New > Adjustment Layer. And by default, that does nothing because. Again, it's kind of just like an empty dummy layer. But when I apply the Color Balance effect to this, you will notice that when I adjust, let's say I will remove some of the red balance to make this a little bit more cyan here, all of the layers are affected the same.

They all receive the same adjustments. So, I might remove some of the red from shadows, midtowns, and highlights. I might remove some of the green balance from the shadows a little bit. And it's looking a little bit saturated, so I might add some Hue/Saturation. And you know the drill,. Go under Master Saturation, click that and drag that to the left a little bit to remove some of that saturation. And what we have now is a much more believable composite. So, again, here is without the adjustment layer, just remove the visibility of the adjustment layer. Before and after.

So, the color adjustment uniformly applied to every single layer in the same way makes them look like they belong together more. And now again, just like in Photoshop, adjustment layers affect everything beneath them. So, if I were to drag the adjustment layer down below in the layer stack, beneath the layers of me and my reflection in the window here, you can see that the color adjustment still affects the subway layer and the moving scenery in the background here, but it now does not affect the subject in question reading the newspaper here.

So, again, adjustment layers affect only things beneath them in the layer stack. Now, this is kind of a mind blowing cool trick I am about to show you, but you could actually kind of play with things in a creative way because of this. I am going to add a little-known effect called the Transform effect. This effect seems completely worthless because it basically just adds the same transforms that we have in the layer, so basically Position, Scale, Rotation, Opacity, all that kind of stuff. But what we can do is apply this to an adjustment layer so that we can then adjust a series of layers without pre-composing them.

So, if we wanted to scale down all of these layers at once, or if we wanted to rotate all these layers at once, we can do so by using the Transform effect on to an adjustment layer, and you could also do that with the Opacity property as well. If you want to fade out the entire composition, you could just animate the Opacity value on the Transform effect applied to an adjustment layer. And if that totally just melts your brain, for now that's okay. This is a little early on in the training series to burst out the Transform effect applied to adjustment layer mumbo-jumbo, but just be aware that the adjustment layer can be used to control all the layers beneath them.

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This video is part of

Image for After Effects CS5 Essential Training
After Effects CS5 Essential Training

111 video lessons · 68531 viewers

Chad Perkins
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 5m 40s
    1. Introduction
      1m 30s
    2. What is After Effects?
      3m 12s
    3. How to use the exercise files
      58s
  2. 28m 14s
    1. After Effects workflow overview
      2m 18s
    2. Bringing elements into After Effects
      2m 23s
    3. Adding elements to the Timeline
      1m 57s
    4. Working with layers
      3m 45s
    5. Creating animation with presets
      3m 24s
    6. Applying effects
      3m 34s
    7. Creating animation without presets
      5m 38s
    8. Previewing your work
      2m 46s
    9. Exporting content as a movie file
      2m 29s
  3. 27m 20s
    1. Touring the interface
      6m 2s
    2. How After Effects projects work
      4m 47s
    3. What is a composition?
      4m 52s
    4. Tips for adding content to compositions
      2m 49s
    5. Understanding the properties of video
      8m 50s
  4. 57m 8s
    1. Importing an Illustrator file
      4m 57s
    2. Animation basics
      7m 12s
    3. Animating opacity
      6m 40s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      4m 57s
    5. Animating position
      6m 8s
    6. Animating rotation
      4m 41s
    7. Animating scale
      7m 19s
    8. Using the Puppet tool
      7m 13s
    9. Copying and pasting keyframes
      3m 4s
    10. Animation shortcuts
      4m 57s
  5. 9m 42s
    1. Understanding precomposing
      6m 51s
    2. Navigating through compositions quickly
      2m 51s
  6. 1h 12m
    1. A showcase of effects
      2m 34s
    2. Creating a layer for effects
      3m 1s
    3. Applying effects
      4m 54s
    4. Animating effect properties
      4m 29s
    5. Using Glow
      5m 34s
    6. Creating patterns and textures
      6m 57s
    7. Creating a fireball
      7m 9s
    8. Using the Cycore effects
      5m 58s
    9. Adding blur
      5m 45s
    10. Creating a galaxy scene from scratch
      8m 38s
    11. Distorting objects with effects
      4m 7s
    12. Creating and using lens flares
      4m 21s
    13. Creating lightning bolts
      4m 3s
    14. Viewing random variations with Brainstorm
      4m 39s
  7. 30m 52s
    1. Shortening the duration of layers
      4m 23s
    2. Trimming in the Footage panel
      4m 14s
    3. Slowing and accelerating video speed
      7m 9s
    4. Applying video transitions between clips
      6m 7s
    5. Working with image sequences
      4m 47s
    6. Importing footage with an alpha channel
      4m 12s
  8. 36m 11s
    1. Brightening dark footage
      9m 12s
    2. Changing colors in footage
      6m 34s
    3. Creating cinematic color treatments
      8m 17s
    4. Creating a quick vignette
      3m 42s
    5. Colorizing black-and-white objects
      4m 50s
    6. Using adjustment layers
      3m 36s
  9. 21m 9s
    1. Creating and editing text
      7m 39s
    2. Applying text animation presets
      4m 41s
    3. Animating text manually
      4m 43s
    4. Applying layer styles to text
      4m 6s
  10. 28m 58s
    1. Let's get better
      37s
    2. Using work areas
      3m 37s
    3. Creating markers
      6m 17s
    4. Replacing layers
      2m 35s
    5. Mastering Timeline navigation
      3m 18s
    6. Aligning and distributing layers
      3m 4s
    7. Selecting layers quickly
      1m 56s
    8. Cropping layers
      3m 43s
    9. Adjusting comp resolution
      3m 51s
  11. 23m 53s
    1. Using the paint tools
      9m 35s
    2. Using the Roto Brush tool
      9m 25s
    3. Animating growing vines
      4m 53s
  12. 40m 29s
    1. Creating and using masks
      6m 42s
    2. Exploring mask options
      7m 57s
    3. Creating masks with Auto-trace
      6m 51s
    4. Masking objects with other objects
      5m 33s
    5. Making shape layers
      3m 43s
    6. Modifying shape layers
      9m 43s
  13. 30m 44s
    1. Turning 2D layers into 3D layers
      9m 22s
    2. Creating lights and cameras
      6m 14s
    3. Creating shadows
      4m 23s
    4. Using depth of field
      4m 42s
    5. Working with 3D effects
      6m 3s
  14. 18m 10s
    1. Removing a green screen background
      4m 37s
    2. Refining the matte
      4m 48s
    3. Compositing with color adjustments
      4m 50s
    4. Compositing with blend modes
      3m 55s
  15. 25m 44s
    1. Understanding spatial interpolation
      2m 5s
    2. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      3m 55s
    3. Orienting moving objects along a path
      1m 29s
    4. Drawing motion with Motion Sketch
      2m 51s
    5. Creating pauses in animation
      3m 6s
    6. Understanding temporal interpolation
      1m 56s
    7. Easing keyframes
      5m 57s
    8. About the Graph Editor
      4m 25s
  16. 12m 13s
    1. Stabilizing shaky footage
      7m 46s
    2. Tracking the motion in footage
      4m 27s
  17. 24m 58s
    1. Setting up parent layers
      5m 49s
    2. Working with null objects
      2m 31s
    3. What are expressions?
      7m 17s
    4. Modifying simple expressions
      2m 20s
    5. Using the wiggle expression
      7m 1s
  18. 6m 52s
    1. Understanding audio in motion graphics
      1m 22s
    2. Previewing and mixing audio
      3m 55s
    3. Enhancing audio tracks with effects
      1m 35s
  19. 11m 36s
    1. Adding comps to the Render Queue
      2m 30s
    2. Exploring key Render Queue settings
      4m 11s
    3. How should I export my video?
      4m 55s
  20. 7m 16s
    1. Using Photoshop with After Effects
      2m 10s
    2. Using Illustrator with After Effects
      3m 2s
    3. Using Flash with After Effects
      2m 4s
  21. 11s
    1. Goodbye
      11s

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