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Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop

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Andrei PopaMaking layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 2, 2014 at 6:33:12 am

Hi there,

You got Layer 1 and Layer 2 in photoshop, each has an object that does not completely cover the other, so depending on which layer is on top one object will partially, but clearly cover the other.

I can't manage to do this in after effects.

If the blend mode is normal, you can't see the bottom layer, any other blend mode makes a mix of the two, can see only the top one, or shows on top the layer I want to be on the bottom.

Even if I put on top the layer I want to be on top, under certain blend modes, the bottom layer comes on top.

To make this clearer, the top layer is the footage of a person in a room, and the bottom layer is the footage of a person in a chroma key suit, which I've rendered out as an alpha matte, so it comes out like a black shadow with alpha channel.

So person on top, shadow on bottom, no matter what blend mode I select, shadow is always on top, or can't see it at all...

Any ideas....?

Thanks,

Andrei


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Daniel WaldronRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 2, 2014 at 1:03:08 pm

Are the layers 3D? If so, the shadow layer's z position could be in front of the person layer, in which case it wouldn't matter how the layers are ordered on the timeline.

If they aren't 3D, you could always enable 3D for both layers and just nudge the shadow layer's z position back slightly so it falls behind the person.


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Andrei PopaRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 2, 2014 at 2:23:09 pm

Hey Daniel,

They were not 3D, but even after I made them 3D same thing happens.

Note that girl layer is on top, and the black shadow layer is made to look like that, it's the whole layer that comes on top even if it's the bottom one, not just the shadow.

Image upload does not work for this forum, at least for me.

I did embed the screenshot and it worked in preview post, but not after I posted.

So here is a link

http://tinypic.com/r/vreq92/8

P.S. If someone knows how to do this in Motion as well please share


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Dave LaRondeRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 2, 2014 at 5:16:24 pm

Sorry, but we'll need a screenshot of your comp to figure out what's going on.

But I'll tell you this right now: do not use photoshop layers with layer styles applied in AE until you understand the application better, nor use AE's own layer styles until you know the application better. AE is not Photoshop on steroids -- it works differently, and you can NOT assume that if something works in one application that it will work the same way in the other.

Quite a pain in the neck, yes?

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Andrei PopaRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 2, 2014 at 5:24:54 pm

Hi Dave,

I posted a link of the screenshot above, because uploading directly does not seem to work, here it is again:

http://tinypic.com/r/vreq92/8

I'm not assuming AE is PS on steroids, I was just explaining what I'm trying to achieve, and the analogy with PS seemed the easiest and clearest way to convey it.

It's not a pain in the neck, I understand it works differently, and that's why I started this thread to learn how to do it.

Andrei

P.S. If i want to ask how this would work in Motion as well, is it enough to leave it here, or should I post in the Motion part of the forums as well?


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Dave LaRondeRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 2, 2014 at 6:19:24 pm

How have you separated the subject from the background, so you can sandwich the shadow in-between?

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Andrei PopaRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 2, 2014 at 6:28:16 pm

Layer1(on top) is the girl with the background.

Layer2(bottom) is a person dressed in a blue suit, which I keyed out, selected the matte view (to make it black), and rendered it out in matte view with an alpha channel. So this layer by itself looks like the black person with a white background.


Andrei


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Dave LaRondeRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 2, 2014 at 11:58:14 pm

You need 3 layers in the following order, from top to bottom:
1) girl with background removed
2) blue suit guy that makees the shadow
3) girl on the background

So how do you remove the background behind the girl? That's a good question. You MIGHT be able to use Rotobrush in AE, but you absolutely, positively MUST learn how Rotobrush works. You can NOT use it intuitively and expect success. 20-year AE veterans weren't able to use it intuitively. AE Help ought to be able to direct you to some very good Rotobrush resources.

If you had a black man over a white background, you didn't have an alpha channel. Otherwise, you would have had a black man over a transparent background. I don't think you rendered in a codec that supports alpha channels.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Andrei PopaRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 3, 2014 at 6:47:36 am

I understand about the 3 layers.

I know about & understand rotobrush, but I'm not very good at it, so I'll have to practice more.

Honestly I was expecting a transparent background too...., so obviously, something went wrong when exporting.

I exported in ProRes 4444 (RGB+Alpha), as I understand 4444 is the only ProRes that supports transparency...

Is it possible that transparency did not work is because I exported just the matte view?

When I keyed it out the person in the blue suit and it became black, I selected the matte view, so I got a black person on a white background.

I probably wrongly assumed that the white background is a transparency and exported like that in matte view...

My questions are:

Is this the reason I did not get a transparent background with the black person, because the white in matte view is not transparent?

Is there a way after you keyed out a person, to export just the keyed person on a transparent background, or will I have to rotobrush the black person as well?

What other codecs besides ProRes 4444 support alpha?

Thanks


Andrei


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Dave LaRondeRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 3, 2014 at 4:36:58 pm

For the Blue guy you're keying, just pull the key and check for transparency by either looking at the alpha only view or using the Photoshop-style checkerboard background. You should see a blue-guy-shaped hole. Apply the Invert effect. You should now see the blue guy.... and you can change the image to black in any number of ways; the Fill effect comes to mind immediately. When done you'll have a black, blue-guy-shaped piece of video over a transparent background, ready for prerendering.

Oh, heck, just forget the prerender, asdd this shot to the AE Render Queue, and import it as a post-render action. It's the same thing.

In quicktime, both PNG and Animation codecs support alpha channels. Double-check that when you render, you have the settings correct in the Output Module. Look it up if necessary.

Dave LaRonde
Promotion Producer
KGAN (CBS) & KFXA (Fox) Cedar Rapids, IA


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Andrei PopaRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 6, 2014 at 9:38:25 pm

Hi Dave,

Sorry for the late reply...

Had some health issues that needed taking care of.

By pulling the key, you mean turning the key off is this correct? I used the Keylight effect so I should just turn this off right?

Where are the alpha only or the photoshop checkerboard buttons....

Thanks,

Andrei


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Daniel WaldronRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 6, 2014 at 10:15:05 pm

Actually pulling a key means the exact opposite. Keep Keylight on. There is a small checkerboard button underneath your composition window that will toggle between the checkerboard that represents the transparent parts of your footage and your composition background color. This button actually has no effect on the transparency of your footage, but is helpful in determining how good your key is.


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Andrei PopaRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 6, 2014 at 11:31:07 pm

Hi Daniel,

Actually I did find that checkerboard button and it does absolutely nothing.

Of course if I move the composition it is underneath, but that's it.

What I'm aiming to do is have this keyed character cut out, so having only the person without the background (I have a person in a full body blue suit), render it on an alpha channel.

And then combine it with another piece of footage.


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Daniel WaldronRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 6, 2014 at 11:41:12 pm

If there is a layer underneath what you are keying, you will not see the checkerboard, as the checkerboard represents the alpha channel of your entire composition, not one layer.

Solo the layer with keylight on it. If the background is properly keyed out, you will see the checkerboard behind your subject.

In Keylight you can also choose the screen matte view to check your key. Your background should be completely black and your subject white. If not, adjust the settings until they are, then change the view setting back. You should now have a layer with subject on a transparent background.


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Andrei PopaRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 7, 2014 at 1:06:43 am

It seems it was a bug.

I deleted the Keylight effect, re-dragged it and I can do it up to this point in Dave's description:

"You should see a blue-guy-shaped hole."

Yes I have that, and if I press the checkerboard button I have a checkerboard filled shape.

Dave now says:

"Apply the Invert effect. You should now see the blue guy...."

I don't have a blue person though....

The background kind of goes negative film in looks and the person is black if I add invert under Keylight and orange if I add it above.

What is not right here?


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Atiqur SumonRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 7, 2014 at 9:33:34 am

If they aren't 3D


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Andrei PopaRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 7, 2014 at 11:23:11 am

What do you mean "if they aren't 3D" ?

Was that the answer or did it got truncated?


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Daniel WaldronRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 7, 2014 at 2:02:03 pm

Hi Andrei,

There are a few techniques on on inverting a key in this old thread. Maybe give those a shot.


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Andrei PopaRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 7, 2014 at 3:06:32 pm

Yup, both methods work, Andy's and Dave's, I was using the normal invert, and I think Dave was talking about Alpha Invert.

I also realized why I can't get them on top of another the way I want.

The keyed person is alpha, but the girl is with the background.

So I would actually need 3 layers, background, girl alpha, keyed person alpha.

I'm only new to compositing so...


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Daniel WaldronRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 7, 2014 at 3:29:23 pm

Great, glad at least that part worked.

Separating the girl from the background will be tricky. Rotobrush is probably your best shot, but - as Dave already pointed out - it is not as easy as it initially looks. Although it can make life easier than traditional rotoscoping, it can still be a painstaking and tedious process. I would google several tutorials on how to use it and make sure you really understand how it works before attempting it. Otherwise you will get frustrated by it and waste hours trying to adjust it without really knowing what you're doing. I know this because I learned the hard way.

Good luck!


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Andrei PopaRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 7, 2014 at 3:41:50 pm

Yes, rotoscoping in kind of hardcore.

Probably shooting them separately with greenscreens, (or at least the girl, because I already have the person in the suit keyed), is the best option.

I heard there is this plug-in called Slice X, that is kind of like an auto-rotoscope, but I'm not sure how well it would track moving people.


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Daniel WaldronRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 7, 2014 at 7:26:18 pm

If you have the opportunity to reshoot, I think that would be your best option.


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Andrei PopaRe: Making layers behave in After Effects like in Photoshop
by on Jul 8, 2014 at 12:41:39 am

Definitely.

This was just a test, so I can see how it works, and how should I shoot it.

:)


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