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Adobe After Effects CS5: Multiplying Effects

Feb 14, 2011 11:52 AM, By Franklin McMahon


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Adjustment Layers have a lot of control on their own, but adding a mask to it or converting an existing layer in your composition to an Adjustment Layer opens up new worlds of possibilities. Click on image to enlarge.

Adjustment Layers have a lot of control on their own, but adding a mask to it or converting an existing layer in your composition to an Adjustment Layer opens up new worlds of possibilities. Click on image to enlarge.

Adjustment layers
Long a staple in Adobe Photoshop, Adjustment Layers have moved over to After Effects and remain just as powerful. The difference with Adjustment Layers is that the layer does not actually contain footage or an image; it only contains effects that are applied to the layers below it.

They are great for stacking effects up and creating unique new looks, but Adjustment Layers have a few tricks up their sleeve that you may not know about. Normally, you may have a mask on one of your layers to control what part of the image or footage is affected. But you can actually apply a mask to an Adjustment Layer, which gives excellent control over just adding an effect over a certain part of the content beneath it. This way a mask + effect can be toggled or moved up or down the stack of layers very easily.

Keep in mind that a lot of plug-ins are based on, or can be recreated, using the expansive built-in tools in After Effects.

Keep in mind that a lot of plug-ins are based on, or can be recreated, using the expansive built-in tools in After Effects.

Another cool option is that any layer can actually be converted to an Adjustment Layer. When this happens, the content of that layer is ignored and just the adjustments are relevant. Adjustment Layers have a lot of control on their own, but adding a mask to it or converting an existing layer in your composition to an Adjustment Layer opens up new worlds of possibilities.

These are just a few powerful methods, but there are hundreds more pertaining to effects in After Effects. Often you’ll see new expensive plug-ins released and budget for this down the line. However, keep in mind that a lot of plug-ins are based on, or can be recreated, using the expansive built-in tools in After Effects. Sharing, shuffling, stacking, keying and adjusting effects can open up new avenues of creative possibilities.

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