Colors + Track Mattes
So, I have a text box. When it animates on/off, I have an alpha track matte layer underneath the text instead of a mask directly on top of the text layer.
This is so that I can easily move the text layer & not have to worry about the bounding box (aka the mask) moving with it....and also so I can easily give editors controls via the essential graphics panel such as position, scaling, etc...again without having to worry that editors will break the box by changing things around too much (it's happened).
So now they want the ability to color individual words. Usually I would just put in a fill color animator. However because alpha track mattes reference the color of the bottom layer, I can't do this.
My question is, is it even possible to have a track matte that acts just as a straight mask type of thing & still have the original colors of the layer on top?
Yes....I know there are other ways to do what I want w/o track mattes. I just want to know if THIS one thing is even possible, before I go & rebuild all those gfx. One can only hope, right?
It really depends on the type of Mattes you are using.. From what I understood, you could try to figure out how to set it up with Channel->SetMatte or Channel->SetChannels.. probably any other from Channel filters. With this, your editors will have full text editing and coloring capabilities, and, the trackmatte (not anymore "track") will take care of text opacity.
The Set Matte effect is actually a legacy effect from before Adobe owned AE. (that was the only way to do "track matte"s back then) But it's still so useful for things, like you pointed out - to be able to matte things procedurally so users of the file don't have to dig and you don't have to worry about layer hierarchy.
The really great thing is that you can keep a layer's original alpha (by selecting "comp matte with original" in the effect) and now you have technically two alpha's at work: the layer you point to with the Set matte effect, and the layer's own alpha from a rendered source or PShop (or if the layer is precomp with alpha info). You can then go one better by putting that layer with the setMatte effect below another and using track matte to triple matte the layer.
This of course could all be done by precomping the original and then just trackmatting the outer layer again, but often you want to preserve a blend/transfer mode (which can be lost with a precomp) or you have mixed 2D and 3D stuff going on and precomping suddenly sends your layer into the Forbidden Zone as the 3D camera tries to reposition it in a new WorldSpace. And yes, you can do some fancy "toWorld, fromWorld" stuff to reign that back in, but why bother?
The Set Matte effect is terribly useful. You can use it to have one layer be the track matte for 10 other layers. And, in newer versions of AE, you can also use it with the effects and masks of the referenced layer intact. The ability for effects that reference other layers to also take into account their effects and masks is one of the biggest features to be added to AE in years and too many people don't know it exists!
The only issue with the Set Matte effect is that it doesn't work too well if you have stuff scaled or moved. You can turn on the collapse transformations switch to overcome it in many cases though.
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This is all super helpful and interesting to learn, thank you everyone!
I'm still a bit flabbergasted that the fix was as easy as what Dave said (switching layer order), but now Im curious about the set matte effect too. I love learning about this stuff. It's just weird because you'd think after a couple years of working in this program I would know these things by now, but no, it still ends up managing to surprise me-- although in this case I just feel a bit dense haha. It's because for some reason I assumed the bottom (alpha) layer HAD to be the "mask" layer, while the top layer HAD to be what you wanted to be masked. It never occurred to me to even try the opposite way or that it would even work. Truly a facepalm moment.
The set matte effect seems interesting simply for the fact that it has different settings to use for matte, like hue, saturation, red channel, etc. I always thought the regular track matte effects were a bit limited in this regard (although like I said, I apparently didn't know how it works so I'm going to have to re-evaluate that opinion haha), so this is really useful to have up my sleeve just in case.
Thanks again! You are all wonderful and I super appreciate the time you all take to help me and others out on this forum-- even simple q's like this one.