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how to work with multiple masks

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Jerry Yang
how to work with multiple masks
on Aug 7, 2012 at 7:27:58 pm

i'd like to have an animation where different parts of a layer(be it shape, solid, video footage)are revealed over time, is using multiple masks a good idea? do i need to organize masks on one layer or each on a separate layer so that i have the control over masks. i.e. i can set which mask(s) is applied at a certain moment, i hope i have explained it clearly.


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Vishesh Arora
Re: how to work with multiple masks
on Aug 7, 2012 at 8:15:32 pm

Mr. Yang, You can go for either way. Making masks for different objects in separate layers will be better as you can rename the layer to the desired name for the object which is not possible in different masks on same layer. This will help you too choose a particular mask more easily.

I am a keen learner and am very keen on pursuing a career in the animation industry. My artistic skills are mostly self-
taught. I have a deep knowledge base of Photoshop, Maya, Adobe Premiere, After Effects, Final Cut Pro and Sony Vegas.


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Jerry Yang
Re: how to work with multiple masks
on Aug 7, 2012 at 11:22:16 pm

Hi Vishesh, thanks for your reply, how about the flexibility of choosing(applying)a group of masks? say i have mask 1-10 on layer 1-10 respectively. what to do if i wanna apply mask 1,2,3 at point A and apply mask 4,5,6,7 at point B? making yet a new layer for each possible combination of a group of masks?


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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: how to work with multiple masks
on Aug 8, 2012 at 8:07:31 pm

Not knowing exactly what you're trying to achieve makes it hard to recommend "the best" solution, but here's what comes to mind: create your masks using animated shapes on individual shape layers. You can then duplicate each layer (to keep the originals untouched) and use them as track mattes for your images. You can either combine the mattes in one precomp and then use as track matte or use them individually with the image layers (if it's just one image layer you can duplicate and pair the duplicates up with each matte/shape layer). If you want to re use the mattes, you can duplicate the original shape layers, slide them down in the place where you need the new animation to start and combine them at will.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Jerry Yang
Re: how to work with multiple masks
on Aug 8, 2012 at 9:16:21 pm

Hi Tudor, i am working on a simple video mapping project and actually wanna achieve some simple display pattern. here an example:
, according to your experience, how can i create something similar(ignore the wigglling particle light)?


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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: how to work with multiple masks
on Aug 9, 2012 at 10:00:38 am

Got it- I would then definitely work with shape layers. They are easy to adjust and tweak and you can animate the opacity (you can even sync animation with a soundtrack either using AE's convert audio to keyframes or Red Giant Sound Keys). You can then apply other fx on the shape layers ( textures, glowing edges...).
For an elegant animation you may want to put in a bit more work at the beginning: create an Adjustment Layer with sliders (one for each shape layer), re-name them to easy recognize each shape(you may want to draw a diagram of the combined shapes and name your shapes) and then you can link the opacity from each of your shape layers to the corresponding sliders using expressions (pickwhip the value). This way you have one control layer that you can use to animate the opacity of all shapes.
Hope this gives you a start.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Jerry Yang
Re: how to work with multiple masks
on Aug 10, 2012 at 10:23:42 am

thanks, Tudor. its great advice to get me started. got another question about the animation in this video:
from 1:35-2:00, it looks like a nice shape morphing pattern and i wonder if i can use some effects to create it, could you have a look?


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Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Re: how to work with multiple masks
on Aug 11, 2012 at 6:06:12 pm

What I would use it's FreeForm Pro or ShapeShifter AE to create the 3d shapes. Basically you need to animate a mesh warp and distort the geometric displacement map, while animating the height for the map as well (expand grey values to white). Play with material properties and with the reflection map to get an interesting surface. Also Lights will help define the shapes better.
Here's an example of something I did using the method mentioned above:







Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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