Join Ian Robinson for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding the order of effects, part of After Effects CC Essential Training (2015).
- In After Effects, you can create unique results by layering multiple effects, one on top of the other, but it's important to understand that there is a method to the madness and the order in which you apply those effects definitely matters. Now, if you look at our Composition here, you can see it's made up of seven different Layers and looking at the Blend Modes, you can see all of these Layers are really kind of adding the graphics and stylizing this footage. But, to simplify things, I just wanna focus on Layer 7.
So make sure you have Layer 7 selected and then enable Solo for that Layer, just by clicking the Solo button. So, here you can see, this video is definitely stylized. Let me talk you through some of the effects that I applied, so you can understand how this is set up. Go up under the Window menu and just choose your Effect Controls and that'll bring the Effect Controls to the front. And you'll notice, I have Effects applied; a Tritone Effect, a Levels Effect and then a Camera Lens Blur. Now, before I explain how this works, I just wanna show you a slightly different example, so let's collapse the Tritone Effect and the Levels Effect and the Camera Lens Blur and I'll just click once on the top Effect and drag down to deselect, or disable, all of those Effects.
So here, this is our un-adjusted video and if you notice, the video is an .mp4 file and that's just because it's compressed, so when you download it, it won't take quite so long. But, I'm just showing you that because that compression is gonna come into play here in a second. Let's use a highly stylized effect. With Layer 7 selected, let's go up under Effect and go down to Stylize. In here, I want you to choose the Find Edges Effect. Once we do that, it's going to analyze the footage and find the edges of the footage.
Now, if you see this exclamation point, don't panic. That's just because I have this Composition in 16-bit color space, 'cause you remember at the beginning how saturated and bright everything was? Well, this effect isn't designed to work in 16-bit, but as you can see, it works perfectly well. So, I'm actually gonna go ahead and leave this Effect in here, but if you notice it's kinda made everything black and white and if I turn the Effect off and on, there is some color in this.
I've got green and I have blue and then I have the skin tones of the surfer's feet. So here, if we enable Find Edges again I could come up under Effect and we'll add another Effect. Let's go to Color Correction and I'll add a hue, levels, and saturation adjustment under Color Balance, so that's Color Balance (HLS). When I do that, notice I have Hue, Lightness and Saturation. So here, let's just crank up the Saturation and now you can see I've got all these kinda cool colors in here, so, ya know, it works great if you're trying to create like an 80's music video, right? This looks awesome, if I scrub through, you can see I've got all these kinda colorful pixels that are sort of bouncing around based on the splashes of my surfer.
Well, look and see what happens when I click on the Color Balance and drag that Effect above the Find Edges Effect. Woah, notice now I've got these kind of blocks and things that are happening. Well, let's turn off Find Edges for a second and you'll notice, wow, that's really super saturated. Well, if I decrease the Saturation here, as I'm increasing and decreasing, you're seeing artifacting that's happening based on the fact that this is a highly compressed file format.
So, if I have Color Balance and then Find Edges, it just gives me a more aggressive look to my style. So, here I can click on Find Edges and bring it back. So, whenever you're dealing with Effects, what you wanna do is actually talk through the Effects from the top down. Think of them just like Layers here inside of your timeline. Notice when you add Blend Modes between Layers, it changes the interaction between the upper and lower Layers. Inside the Effect Controls, it's the same thing. Whatever Effect is on top is going to be applied first and then the next Effect and then the next Effect.
So, select the Find Edges Effect by clicking on the text and hold down Shift and click on the Color Balance Effect and press Delete. Now let's re-enable Tritone, Levels, and Camera Blur. Notice, as I clicked each one of these on, it changed how the video appeared. So, let's start by actually deselecting Camera Lens Blur and deselecting Levels. I wanna open up my options for the Tritone and when I applied the Tritone Effect, I wanted to create kind of a monochrome look and it's done a pretty good job.
Notice the Highlights are tinted white, the Midtones are tinted this kind of pinkish, purplish color and if I click and drag through here, you'll see it's kind of a soft effect and that's because at the bottom under Blend With Original, I've only blended it about 57%. If I click 100%, that's the original footage. If I do 0, this is the overall tint, which is way too electric pink for me. So, I'll just cmd+z to undo that, to go back to 57%. So now, when I click on Levels, see I applied the Levels Effect to give it a little bit more of a pop and as you can see, it's given me that nice high contrast look.
If I scrub through my timeline here, you can see it's definitely given me that nice pop over top of the video. If we scrub back to the beginning here, say around 02 seconds, see how you can see some of the trees in the background? If I turn my Levels off here, you can see with this Tritone Effect and the Blend With Original setup, it's actually given me some of the color back into my trees. So here, I'll leave it back at 57 and I have my Levels. Look at what happens if I click on my Levels and I move it above my Tritone.
Notice it washes out the Tritone. Well, if we open up the Levels option, that's because I've compressed this space between the Midtones and my Highlights. So now, I have many more pixels that are actually Highlights which, according to my Tritone Effect, means they're white. So, this area right here, down to here, these are my Midtones going into my Shadows. Notice, this area is much shorter. So, if we go through the order of the Effects, notice if I apply my Levels first, it definitely changes how the Tritone looks.
So, I'm gonna click on the Tritone, I'll move it back up above my Levels. So, now we have that nice kinda pinky purply wash with a nice high-contrast pop and when I collapse both of those Effects, I can enable my Camera Lens Blur here which I had just so that I could better pop my graphic off the background. So, if we disable Solo here and just move down the timeline to where we can actually see my entire logo here, you can see with my logo and my color Effects and my Camera Lens Blur, it's a little bit easier to see what's going on with my logo.
So, whenever you apply Effects, you can see it always pays to pay attention to the order of Effects.
- Building graphics such as lower thirds, logos, and credit rolls
- Repairing and retiming video
- Keying green-screen footage
- Animating a 3D logo
- Motion tracking
Your guide, Ian Robinson, wraps up the course with some project management techniques that will help you merge projects from multiple editors, and get you in the habit of archiving completed work.