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'Apply Image' command in AE?

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Jim Arco'Apply Image' command in AE?
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 1:42:12 pm

Photoshop has a tool (in the Image menu) called Apply Image. It allows you to choose a layer and a channel in the layer stack to apply to another layer. In PS, I use it to create a grayscale mask to limit or amplify an effect on a layer - great for amping up the color or taming severe shadow-highlight problems.

I can't seem to find an equivalent tool in After Effects and my efforts to duplicate it's functionality have yielded a complicated mess of comps in AE.

Has anyone worked through this already and come up with a good solution? Or am I plowing new ground and just need to tough it out while I figure out a useable workflow?


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Michael SzalapskiRe: 'Apply Image' command in AE?
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 2:44:52 pm

I've not used apply image in Photoshop, but the functionality you're describing sounds like it could be achieved with an adjustment layer and a track matte.

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Kevin CampRe: 'Apply Image' command in AE?
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 3:45:20 pm

there is also an effect called compound arithmetic. it will allow you to combine one layer with another, however it won't let you specify a specific rgb channel (it will let you specify rgb, alpha or rgba).

there are some 'tricks' to working with compound effects. compound effects take the second layer 'as is', meaning they don't look at effects or transformations that are applied. so if you needed to, say, scale or effect a layer before applying it to another layer, you'd need to precomp that layer and do the extra manipulation in the precomp. then use that precomp in the compound effect.

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer

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Matthew WoodsRe: 'Apply Image' command in AE?
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 7:35:17 pm

I've also never used the 'Apply Image' command in Photoshop, but what you are describing sounds very much like the "Set Channels" effect in AE. Have you tried that?


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Kevin CampRe: 'Apply Image' command in AE?
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 7:57:21 pm

yeah, set channels will allow you to select a different layer and choose which channel to use and how to use it to combine it with the layer it is applied too.

again, it is a compound effect so it will always use the input layer prior to effect and transformations.

Kevin Camp
Senior Designer

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Chris WrightRe: 'Apply Image' command in AE?
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 8:25:49 pm

my little groups are

a footage,then add to it
set alpha as lightness(the checkboard will reveal transparency.)

-then below it, level, individual controls, with alpha input black and input white

then below that layer, another footage with the above set as alpha matte. anything you add to this lower footage now will be masked by the matte. I ususaly add sliders to the input bw / 100.

you can also precomp half the levels then the input b-w won't cross over each other and snap the alpha level backwards. also, you can soften the alpha layer by changing how much alpha output(makes softer transitional matte) and what effects are you trying to limit? are you testing my shadow program?

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Jim Arco'Apply Image' ... what effects... long story...
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 10:30:39 pm

I've been asked (on and off the board) what I am working on or what I am trying to do. Here's the story:

I've been learning Dan Margulis' techniques from his tutorials called "There Are No Bad Originals" and "Picture Postcard Workflow." I got turned onto his ideas during his presentations at Photoshop World in September and found the outcomes absolutely amazing. I think Dan comes from a print background and uses a lot of "apply image" and curve tweaking in his strategy. Some of my underexposed, muddy, mediocre still images now look like the proverbial "picture postcard" (well a LOT better anyway.)

A few days ago, it occurred to me that I could apply some of his techniques to video. Video workflow in Photoshop can be a bit cumbersome and things like a motion mask are beyond my PS skills, if they are even do-able in PS. So I decided to try to 'translate' the concepts to After Effects where my skills are a bit better.

My initial experiments in AE are giving me pretty good outputs, but my process is quite cumbersome. That's what led me to ask the question "What is the equivalent of 'apply image' in After Effects?"

In an effort to learn exactly what each step does, I've been working a step at a time in Photoshop and then trying to accomplish the exact same look in AE. But a 1-for-1 equivalent to apply image would be the simple answer.

I'll continue to explore this using some of the ideas suggested here. Then I'll post what I learn.


BTW - I think you can also find Margulis' tutorials on Kelby Training. They're several hours long and not for the faint of heart, with occasional excursions into things like L-a-b color, which probably can't be implemented for video.

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Chris WrightRe: 'Apply Image' ... what effects... long story...
by on Dec 3, 2010 at 11:41:22 pm

shift can take the alpha from any r,g,b like the tut
Photoshop World: Lab Color with Dan Margulis - PixelPerfect

if you put color balance on each shift-rgb and rotate them then put then as screen, you can create infinite variations of your image
where red becomes orange, blue becomes teal, etc. and you can add contrast to each precomp so the individual channels are 3 lutted.
like in this example

I tested the red to green car and it looks exactly the same! i took off all the layers except temp controls

Also LAB color channels can be found from Walker FX, which also supports CMYK which is pretty cool.

here's a technicolor example if you're interested in crosstalk colors
ae cs3 aep

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