After Effects Apprentice Free Video: Pyrotechnic Composites

Please: Stop using Luma Key on footage (such as pyro effects) shot on black. There’s a better way.

As we mentioned earlier, we're creating a video training series based on our popular beginner's book After Effects Apprentice, which progresses from “I haven't used it before” through core skills including keyframing, masking, text animation, and 3D space to advanced techniques such as motion tracking, green screen, and expressions. Each new course has a selection of movies that are free for all to view; we're periodically presenting the YouTube versions of them here in case you missed them.

The fourth Apprentice course focuses on ways to edit and enhance layers in After Effects – including looping, sequencing, and frame blending them; employing Blending Modes to create more interesting composites; and applying Effects, Presets, Behaviors, and Layer Styles. Through a series of Quizzler challenges and Idea Corner examples, we also share alternative ways to employ modes, sequencing, and Adjustment Layers, while special sidebar movies cover the subjects of creating seamless loops, animating effects points, understanding pixel aspect ratios, and employing Brainstorm to explore the variety of different looks that effects can create.

One regular feature of the Apprentice lessons is what we call Quizzlers, where we present you with a challenge that can be solved using something you (should have) already learned earlier in that lesson. This movie is an example of a Quizzler Solution (spoiler alert), showing the right and wrong way to composite footage shot against black on top of another clip. By the way, this technique can be used in any program that includes Blending (aka Blend, Composite, Transfer, etc.) Modes, including Adobe Premiere as well as Apple Final Cut Pro and Motion.

The content contained in After Effects Apprentice – as well as the CMG Blogs and CMG Keyframes posts on ProVideoCoalition – are copyright Crish Design, except where otherwise attributed.


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Chris & Trish Meyer founded Crish Design (formerly known as CyberMotion) in the very earliest days of the desktop motion graphics industry. Their design and animation work has appeared on shows and promos for CBS,…

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