Hello, I'm an Indy Game dev, and I'm using Ae to do sprite animation.
The ship has VERY complex shapes and many layers (yes I know about nesting) and MANY moving parts.
I have so many layers on top of layers, and each layers fill is transparent but i cannot have "bleed-in" from any bottom layers. So i made masks to solve this issue. However it resulted in me making MANY masks and duplicating and pasting the same masks onto other layers an when keyframing it takes a long time to make sure 4 masks on 4 layers knock out everything just so one shape appears opaque..
I really just want to apply the mask to the top layer and tell the mask to ignore ANY AND ALL layers underneath its designated layer that moves within the area of the mask, as opposed to dup'ing the same mask and applying it on the lower layers.
Not quite sure I understand- maybe posting a few stills with the final comp and your timeline would help.
Also- your elements, are they created in PSD or AI, how are you bringing them in? Do they have their own alpha channel or not?
It seems that if you stack elements in a comp and you animate them, the best way would be to bring them in with their own alpha- this way there's no need for additional mattes, but then again maybe I did not understand your issue.