Compositing Secrets Everyone Can Use: Pt. 1 - Blend Modes
CreativeCOW presents Compositing Secrets Everyone Can Use: Pt. 1 - Blend Modes -- Adobe After Effects Tutorial


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Join longtime VFX artist, editor, software developer, and business owner Simon Ubsdell for the best look behind the technology of blend modes that you've ever seen. This isn't just for graphics and VFX, but for video editors too -- anyone who puts anything together, and wants to learn more about HOW images combine at the most basic level, in a way that applies to every application you might use, whether Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple FCPX, Avid Media Composer, DaVinci Resolve, VEGAS Pro, and yes, graphics and VFX programs like After Effects, Motion, Fusion, Nuke, Scratch, and many more.



The idea behind The School of Compositing was to provide an in-depth primer of basic compositing concepts, not unlike School of Rock -- with a nerdier teacher! I felt it would be helpful to start with explaining Blend Modes since they help to unlock a lot of very useful and important fundamental principles (and I know that a lot of people find Blend Modes challenging to get to grips with). Although I am using Blackmagic Design Fusion as a way of demonstrating the theory, this should be useful to anyone at any level, whatever application they are working on. It's really about compositing, but that potentially sounds off-putting to anyone not doing VFX, when in actual fact editors are compositing all the time, without necessarily thinking of it that way. We tend to think of editing as putting one thing after another, but actually many of us spend a lot of "editing" time putting things on top of other things - and every time we do that we are compositing. Because there are so many different processes we can use for "putting things of top of other things", we can easily get ourselves confused and end up with unpredictable artifacts. Understanding some of the simple principles that make up the compositing process can really help to simplify things for us and make for better and quicker results. What I hope is distinctive and useful about the approach I am taking is that it's not about the "how", but rather the "what" and the "why" - there are plenty of resources that show you what buttons to push but my hope would be that understanding what's happening at ground level when you push those buttons is going to help you make better decisions. Plus the nerd in me just finds this stuff fascinating. I had a huge light bulb moment when I first started using Shake and realised that it let you see right through to the bare metal and work with the actual nuts and bolts, rather than dealing with graphical abstraction. Suddenly I saw that it really was all just numbers and you could directly change the numbers and affect how they interact and do all sorts of amazing stuff that is either much harder to do via a top-heavy UI, or quite simply not possible at all. From that moment I was hooked and I'd love for others to share that same eureka moment!

Simon Ubsdell
Simon Ubsdell
Hi, I'm Simon Ubsdell, Creative Director of TOKYO PRODUCTIONS, a UK-based boutique creative shop specializing in movie trailers, sales promos and TV Spots for the independent film sector both in the UK and across Europe. I've been a film and video editor for over 30 years as well as being involved in motion graphics, sound design and mixing, music composition, visual effects and compositing, 3D modelling and animation, and colour grading, not to mention writing, directing and producing, and most recently, software development. I am also a developer of plug-ins for the video post-production market having released a range of successful and acclaimed products both under the Tokyo brand and as Hawaiki with Robert Mackintosh.