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So as long as we are here, we might as well have a little bit of fun. You can apply other effects and do other animations and distortions as well. I'll take the NIGHT LITES layer and apply something like Effect > Distort > Turbulent Displace, which is one of my favorite effects. You see it creates a distortion on the NIGHT LITES layer and I can animate that distortion by animating Turbulent Displace's Evolution parameter. Now, note that the stencil is evolving and being displaced. However, the fill is not.
All that's being altered is the alpha, not the color channels. If I indeed wanted to distort both the alpha and the fill inside that alpha, I need to do something different. I am going to remove Turbulent Displace and create a layer, New > Adjustment Layer, on top. We also discussed adjustment layers back in the layer control lesson as well. Here's my adjustment layer and I'll apply Effect > Turbulent Displace. Now as I evolve this displacement, you'll see both the alpha and the fill are getting warped.
As with many other things in After Effects, the stacking order is very important. If this adjustment layer with the Turbulent Displace effect was underneath the stencil but on top of the colored fill layers, the composite, only the fill will be getting the distortion but the stencil will not be getting distorted. If I want everyone distorted, I put the adjustment layer above everybody and now everyone is distorted. I want just the alpha channel to be distorted I'll cut my effect from the adjustment layer, apply it to the stencil layer, and now just the alpha channel is getting distorted. Not the fill.
So it's very important to keep straight, who is contributing the alpha channel, who is contributing the color fill, and who is being processed. Is an effect applied to just the alpha or is it applied to everybody in the stack?
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