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Combining multiple clips in one shot using layer masks

From: Creative Video Compositing with Photoshop

Video: Combining multiple clips in one shot using layer masks

One of the ways to make simple composites of multiple clips is to So, that's right where I want it.

Combining multiple clips in one shot using layer masks

One of the ways to make simple composites of multiple clips is to use layer masks to determine where each video is visible on the screen. For this project, we'll take different video clips and use layer mask to collage them together and create a split screen effect. So my layered file here, I have four video layers. Let's just take a quick look at them. We have light switch, a light bulb, solar panel, and a windmill. The first thing I want to do is work with some timing issues on the light bulb and the light switch, so I'm just going to turn off the eye icons for the windmill and the solar panel and I'm going to move them off to the side.

So let's just move the solar panel over here, and we'll move the windmill off there, because we don't really need those yet. And I'm going to move the light bulb out of the way, and what I want to do now is use the play head here and just kind of scrub through until we get the finger reaching in to turn the light switch on. And I want to get right to the point where the switch goes down. So I'm using the arrow keys to go frame by frame through the timeline here. This is the left or right arrow keys to go one frame at a time.

And you can turn that on, or ensure that that is turned on by coming to the fly out menu for the timeline panel and just choosing Enable Timeline Shortcut Keys. So, that's right where I want it. I'm going to bring the light bulb layer back right about there and the light bulb doesn't turn on for a while. So let me just trim the end of this clip to right where the light bulb comes on, right about there I think, now I'll move that into position. So right now, we have this to where boom, the light bulb comes right on, that's exactly that I want. And that comes on right at about the three second mark here, just a little over three seconds, so I'm going to let it go in maybe about another second and a half, and then I'm going to bring in the solar panels.

Turn the eye icon on so we can see them, and I just want to trim this clip here because the solar panel is kind of rotating around, or rather the camera view is rotating around. So I want to get to something right about like there, bring that back into position. So now I want to create a layer mask for the solar panel layer, so it is only visible on the right hand side of the image. So I still want to see the light bulb over here on the left, but I want to see the solar panels over on the right.

So what I'm going to do, is get my rectangular marquee tool, and I'm just going to kind of eyeball a selection of the right half of the image like that. Turn on that layer. Make sure it's active in the layers panel, and come down and click the add layer mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel. So now I have a layer mask attached to this solar panel layer. And we have the light switch come on. And then we have this come on. This is really nice because the flare from the sun comes right in on the edge there. We see those really nice little rainbow color blends.

Okay. So far so good. And next, what I'm going to do is just trim this a little bit more, I think, and bring that in. Okay. Now we're going to bring the windmill in. And we'll position this pretty close. I don't want any of the clips to lag too long meaning, you know, I don't want them to be on screen for a long time. I want them to switch pretty quickly. And I'm going to turn that windmill layer on so we can see it. And what I want to do is, I want to move the windmill over, because I want to have the windmill replace the solar panel.

So I'll get the move tool, and I'll just drag this over to the right. I'm going to hold down my Shift key as I drag that and that will constrain that motion to a horizontal so it's not going to kind of move up and down. Okay, so now I want to add a layer mask. I essentially need the exact same layer mask as I have on the solar panel there. So here's a great trick for copying a layer mask from one layer to another. I'm going to hold down the Option key on Mac, or the Alt key on Windows, and just click and drag that up there, and that's going to copy that mask. Alright, see how that looks there.

And that looks pretty good. Now, look at that. I have seen that before. See that flashing there? Now, let's explain a couple things. First you see this blue line here. This blue line is the RAM preview. With video, Photoshop has to load the video data in, in order to preview it and so sometimes on complicated projects, you might see some jumpiness and some uneven playback until it's loaded in the RAM preview. But we have the RAM preview loaded in here. And even if I play this, we're going to run into this jumpy stuff here.

And the reason for that, and I have no idea why this is true, but after a lot of hair pulling and testing and assistance from colleagues, I figured it out. It's because on this layer here, we moved it over to the side. Let me just temporarily turn that layer mask off and turn all of the other things off. And here's another glitch you should know about. Why are we not seeing the windmill layer? It's because the play head is not currently on the windmill layer. So let's move that over and now suddenly we can see it.

So I moved it over, I've got a bunch of transparency here, and I have this mask that is linked there. Well, the fix for this, believe it or not, is unlinking the mask. That will cause that jumpy playback to go away. So to unlink the mask in this case, and again, this is only the case when you have a layer where you've moved it over and it's not filling the entire frame. We're just going to click on the chain link icon between the layer thumbnail and the mask to unlink it, and now let's check this out.

And now it previews as we expect. So again, I have no reason why that is the case, but that's the fix there. Alright, let's just preview this here, real quick. Light switch goes on, solar panel comes in, timing there is a little bit slow and then we've got the windmill. So this has been a really simple example. But it illustrates quite effectively the central role the layer masks play in any type of compositing, whether you're using still images or video.

And as a bonus along the way, we ran into a couple of little technical glitches that I was able to give you solutions for, so hopefully, if you run into those on your own, you'll know how to handle those. We'll be working with layer masks throughout the course and in later projects, we'll explore more advanced masking techniques to create more intricate composites.

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This video is part of

Image for Creative Video Compositing with Photoshop
Creative Video Compositing with Photoshop

40 video lessons · 6715 viewers

Seán Duggan

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  1. 4m 1s
    1. Welcome
      1m 5s
    2. What is video compositing?
    3. Using the exercise files
      2m 15s
  2. 42m 7s
    1. Working with video layers
      4m 26s
    2. Getting familiar with the Timeline
      6m 15s
    3. Using layer masks
      4m 48s
    4. Applying movement and transformations with keyframes
      4m 30s
    5. Using Smart Objects to perform nondestructive transformations
      7m 15s
    6. Creating a file structure for video projects
      4m 55s
    7. Exporting finished clips
      4m 9s
    8. Editing strategy for composite shots
      5m 49s
  3. 16m 57s
    1. Combining multiple clips in one shot using layer masks
      6m 45s
    2. Applying transitional effects
      4m 18s
    3. Animating a layer mask
      5m 54s
  4. 39m 29s
    1. Using type to mask a video layer
      6m 53s
    2. Using vector shapes to mask a video layer
      5m 42s
    3. Adding motion to vector shape layers
      4m 39s
    4. Animating layer effects
      7m 47s
    5. Copying animation keyframes to another layer
      6m 26s
    6. Styling graphics with blend modes and layer effects
      8m 2s
  5. 16m 45s
    1. Compositing elements with blend modes
      4m 58s
    2. Using blend modes and masks to combine video clips
      5m 34s
    3. Combining blend modes and animations
      6m 13s
  6. 34m 2s
    1. Creating custom transitions with layer masks
      7m 11s
    2. Creating custom transitions with filters
      7m 27s
    3. Animating the scale and rotation of a Smart Object
      6m 4s
    4. Using videos as masks for custom transitions
      6m 15s
    5. Creating lighting effects with adjustment layers
      7m 5s
  7. 14m 3s
    1. Previsualizing composites
      4m 38s
    2. Shooting for consistent lighting and motion
      4m 25s
    3. Identifying the "action area" in a scene
      5m 0s
  8. 37m 23s
    1. Layering multiple elements to begin the composition
      7m 1s
    2. Integrating the clock face using blend modes
      5m 38s
    3. Bringing in a video layer and refining layer masks
      8m 38s
    4. Matching color and brightness with adjustment layers
      7m 23s
    5. Finalizing the project with animated clock hands
      8m 43s
  9. 15m 38s
    1. Keyframing a mask to track motion
      6m 15s
    2. Using Blend If sliders for motion masks
      6m 21s
    3. Understanding the limitations for color keying
      3m 2s
  10. 1m 10s
    1. Next steps
      1m 10s

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