After Effects Apprentice: motion graphics versus editing

Published by | Friday, March 25th, 2011

This week we released Chris and Trish Meyer’s After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency. Chris wrote this blog entry to introduce the course.

We’re often asked, What’s the difference between editing and motion graphics? Although there’s always exceptions to every rule, one way to distinguish between them is the way a project is built: Editing projects tend to be arranged horizontally, cutting between different scenes over time; motion graphics projects quite often are arranged vertically, with multiple elements—including footage, text, and other graphics—appearing on screen at the same time.

So the next question becomes How do you see through one layer to the other elements underneath? The secret is not to rely solely on the Opacity parameter to make the top layers transparent. One approach is to use Blending Modes—demonstrated in our After Effects Apprentice: Layer Control course released last month here on lynda.com—to create far more interesting composites of footage, where characteristics of both the layer on top and underneath combine to create a new image. We consider Blending Modes to be the “secret sauce” that’s missing when many editors attempt to composite together multiple images, and indeed we’ve released courses in the past on creating Lighting Effects in Post as well as the popular Filmic Glow effect in Final Cut Pro as well as After Effects and Motion.

Another approach is to cut out portions of layers in interesting ways to focus the viewer on interesting features of the footage on top, as well as reveal additional layers underneath. This is the subject of our just-released course After Effects Apprentice: Creating Transparency. This course focuses heavily on creating and animating “masks,” or user-defined cutouts, for layers using simple and advanced tools. We also cover using properties of one layer (such as its luminance or alpha channel) to alter the transparency of other layers – for example, using text to cut out animated background footage to create a video fill for the text shapes. Additionally, we spend a lot of time showing how effects such as drop shadows interact with these techniques to help add definition between the layers in the final composite. Along the way, we share a variety of practical and creative tips to make you more productive in After Effects as well as provide inspiration. We hope it helps you raise your work to the next level.Chris Meyer

Watch the introductory movie for After Effects Apprentice 05: Creating Transparency:

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