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Are my masks in separate adjustment layers canceling each other out?

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Seth MarshallAre my masks in separate adjustment layers canceling each other out?
by on Apr 10, 2013 at 2:54:22 pm

I know this must be a simple mistake but for some reason I can't find help online. It's probably obvious but I can't figure out the correct way to do this.

Is there any reason why adding a mask in a separate adjustment layer with effects may cancel out other adjustment layers with effects and masks? Are there rules for this?

I had two adjustment layers with masks to apply an effect. But when I created a 3rd it seems to have prevented my other two from working. I figured having them as separate adjustment layers would make each layer treat the adjustment independent.

Thanks for your time.


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Dave LaRondeRe: Are my masks in separate adjustment layers canceling each other out?
by on Apr 10, 2013 at 3:10:43 pm

Yup, masks can certainly interfere with one another. You need to get smart in the use of Mask Modes:
http://helpx.adobe.com/after-effects/using/alpha-channels-masks-mattes.html
Just look for the Mask Modes heading a bit down the page and you're set.

Dave LaRonde
Former Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Seth MarshallRe: Are my masks in separate adjustment layers canceling each other out?
by on Apr 10, 2013 at 3:56:32 pm

Thank you very much for replying. This is what I figured and even read those pages in the manual, but after rereading still couldn't see what was wrong in my project.

So I reverted to before I added the adjustment layer and went ahead and redid it and now it works....? I have three adjustment layers with an effect each with separate masks and it seems find now.

I have no idea why it was giving me problems before. Yes, some portions of the mask in each layer overlap but the problem didn't effect overlapping portions, it was as if two adjustment layers completely stopped working.

Have you encountered bugs in AE like this where you needed to revert and redo to get it work? I'm wondering if it was something I did or if this was a bug in the program.

Thanks!


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Dave LaRondeRe: Are my masks in separate adjustment layers canceling each other out?
by on Apr 10, 2013 at 4:02:35 pm

I don't think I've EVER used three different adjustment layers, each with a different mask. I just apply the effect to the layer in question. I only use an adjustment layer if I need the same effect to affect everything below it, and it almost never has a mask: I'd end up animating the mask, which can be a Real Pain.

Now, people new to AE who come from Photoshop backgrounds seem to be head-over-heels in love with adjustment layers, but they fall out of love with them after using AE for a while.

Dave LaRonde
Former Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Seth MarshallRe: Are my masks in separate adjustment layers canceling each other out?
by on Apr 10, 2013 at 4:25:05 pm

My projects are time lapses so my original media is just the still photo (I don't have layers of objects).

I was about to explain myself but you took the words out of my mouth. I use adjustment layers because that's what we do in photoshop. And the masks are to only effect the areas I want. I have three adjustments: 1) An ND grad for the sky, 2) To lighten an area. 3) To apply Shadows/Highlights Effect to an area. 1 & 3 Overlap a bit. How should I approach this in AE?

I normally would keep my questions short but figured more info would be helpful to explain my situation. Sorry to take up so much of your time but your input is very helpful!


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Dave LaRondeRe: Are my masks in separate adjustment layers canceling each other out?
by on Apr 10, 2013 at 5:08:02 pm

[Seth Marshall] "My projects are time lapses so my original media is just the still photo (I don't have layers of objects)."

I guess that means you imported the time lapse as an image sequence, right?

Now, let's get the frame rate correct for delivery: if you're in NTSC-land, you have 3 broad choices, 29.97 (for video), 23.976 (for film) and 59.94 (for 720 HD video). If you want to make the motion look a little jerker (i.e. on-2's, on-3's etc.), divide those rates with the corresponding integer. You do this in AE's Interpret Footage settings.

Make an AE comp in the proper resolution for delivery. Change its frame rate to the proper frame rate if necessary. Add the image sequence, then position and scale it as necessary.

In the comp, duplicate the layer 3 times for your three areas. Get used to using the little eyeball icon on each layer to turn visibility on & off.

Now add the appropriate effect to one layer, make it visible with the eyeball icon, and just mask around the part you want to keep. Repeat for the other layers. Stack the layers as necessary in the comp. You're done.

Now, a neat and easy trick: if the images are way bigger than your comp, add a null object and parent all the layers to the null. To simulate pans & zooms, animate the null's position and scale values, and the other layers obediently follow along.

Dave LaRonde
Former Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Seth MarshallRe: Are my masks in separate adjustment layers canceling each other out?
by on Apr 10, 2013 at 9:18:32 pm

Thanks Dave. This is close to my workflow but it's really helpful hearing it from you so I know I'm doing it the correct way (and to have for future reference). I appreciate your help on this very much.

Wouldn't your method via duplicating the layer and using a mask be the same as my using adjustment layers with masks? Since isn't that is the purpose of using adjustment layers in photoshop? (I ask in case there is a obvious/specific reason in AE why I shouldn't).

Often I need to stabilize camera shake from wind or something. I assume I just stabilize one layer, apply, then copy/paste the transform info into the other layers (whether it be duplicated layer or adjustment layer).


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Walter SoykaRe: Are my masks in separate adjustment layers canceling each other out?
by on Apr 10, 2013 at 9:30:06 pm

There are some philsophical differences between working on stills in Ps and full motion video in Ae.


[Seth Marshall] "Often I need to stabilize camera shake from wind or something. I assume I just stabilize one layer, apply, then copy/paste the transform info into the other layers (whether it be duplicated layer or adjustment layer)."

After Effects has something Photoshop doesn't -- precomps [link].

If you stabilized a piece of footage then precomped it, you'd be able to reuse the precomp without having your machine trying to re-render the stabilization on every layer.

Adjustment layers and masks are fine ways to affect the look of the image, but they're not ideal solutions for video because you have to animate the masks to match the video.

Adjustments to video tend to be procedural first, whenever possible, and then based on manual masks afterwards.

In Photoshop, it's not a big deal to paint a layer mask over, say, a field or a group of trees -- it's just a single image. In After Effects, where your source may be a moving camera pan, you might be better off using a keys based on specific hues and tints of green to isolate the field and trees, so you wouldn't have to painstakingly animate your mask to compensate for the moving camera.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Seth MarshallRe: Are my masks in separate adjustment layers canceling each other out?
by on Apr 10, 2013 at 9:37:33 pm

Excellent Explanation!!!

Thanks everyone!!


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Walter SoykaRe: Are my masks in separate adjustment layers canceling each other out?
by on Apr 10, 2013 at 4:14:19 pm

[Seth Marshall] "I have no idea why it was giving me problems before. Yes, some portions of the mask in each layer overlap but the problem didn't effect overlapping portions, it was as if two adjustment layers completely stopped working."

You may have accidentally toggled effects off for those layers.


[Seth Marshall] "Have you encountered bugs in AE like this where you needed to revert and redo to get it work? I'm wondering if it was something I did or if this was a bug in the program."

Ae, like any software package, does have a few bugs -- but overall the program is phenomenally stable. I spend most of my day in Ae and it's very, very, very rare that reverting and redoing exactly the same steps will give you a different result.

It's much more likely that you may have clicked on something unintentionally and didn't notice its impact at first. The interface is pretty complex, and every button does something.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Seth MarshallRe: Are my masks in separate adjustment layers canceling each other out?
by on Apr 10, 2013 at 9:22:39 pm

Believe it or not I checked all the "eyeballs" and "hide" boxes to make sure I wasn't turning something off. As far as I could tell everything was on which is why I was so confused. I checked and rechecked and the only thing I could figure was my masks were doing something wonky. But after rechecking in the manual I don't believe that I was doing anything wrong and the fact there wasn't obvious overlap made it seem somehow one layer was disabling the others without any indication.

It was strange but the revert worked. Very possible it was something I did, I just have no idea what (which sadly won't help me prevent that from happening in the future)

thanks though


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Walter SoykaRe: Are my masks in separate adjustment layers canceling each other out?
by on Apr 10, 2013 at 9:49:51 pm

[Seth Marshall] "Believe it or not I checked all the "eyeballs" and "hide" boxes to make sure I wasn't turning something off."

There's the FX switch which enables and disables all effects for the layer. Disabling the FX switch of an adjustment layer would effectively hide it, even though the eyeball would still be on. In the effects control window, you can also disable individual effects.

The "hide" box is called the shy switch. Shy layers still appear in your comp, but disappear from the timeline panel when you toggle the overall shy control.

There's also the solo switch; if your image and one of the adjustment layers were soloed, the other two would have been invisibile.

There's also the opacity property -- if this was turned down to zero, the adjustment layer would have no effect. There's a separate opacity control for masks. There are multiple mask modes.

There are plenty of things to tweak that could result in an adjustment layer having no effect -- it's tough to help you narrow it down without a screenshot of your UI when you were experiencing the issue.

Walter Soyka
Principal & Designer at Keen Live
Motion Graphics, Widescreen Events, Presentation Design, and Consulting
RenderBreak Blog - What I'm thinking when my workstation's thinking
Creative Cow Forum Host: Live & Stage Events


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Seth MarshallRe: Are my masks in separate adjustment layers canceling each other out?
by on Apr 11, 2013 at 2:02:10 am

thanks for those clues anyhow. I'll never know since I reverted without a screenshot. But now at least I have a list for the future.


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Roland R. KahlenbergRe: Are my masks in separate adjustment layers canceling each other out?
by on Apr 10, 2013 at 4:57:34 pm

Anyone that uses THREE Adjustment Layers with masks within a single comp needs to have their head checked!

hurhurhur - I'm obviously (hopefully) kidding BUT I suggest, though less humbly that I am usually proposed to doing; ask what it is that you are doing or trying to achieve. Me thinks there is a 95% chance that a less burdensome, more user-friendly way to achieve our goals is possible.

RoRK

Intensive mocha & AE Training in Singapore and Other Dangerous Locations

Imagineer Systems (mocha) Certified Instructor
& Adobe After Effects ACE/ACI (version 7)


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Seth MarshallRe: Are my masks in separate adjustment layers canceling each other out?
by on Apr 10, 2013 at 9:33:57 pm

Very possible, in my defense as Dave stated the use of Adjustment Layers in this manner is the preferred workflow in Photoshop.

Thanks for your reply, if you wouldn't mind please checking out what I wrote Dave regarding his suggestion of duplicating the layer instead of using adjustment layers. I asked some questions there and want to keep it together - http://forums.creativecow.net/readpost/2/1035416

Thanks for replying!


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