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Adjustment Layers in After Effects

Learn how to use Adjustment layers to color correct video footage within Adobe After Effects.
In this After Effects tutorial, we’re going to look at using Adjustment Layers to add some contrast and some saturation to this footage.  This horseback riding footage is kind of flat.  You can get this (footage), this is from freestockfootage.com

So I want to basically make this pop a little more.  An easy way to do this without effecting the layers is by making an Adjustment Layer.  In After Effects an Adjustment Layer is basically a transparent layer that you can apply filters or effects to.

So I’m going to basically go up to the Layer Menu and go to New, and Adjustment Layer, and that’s going to put an Adjustment Layer over this footage.

Now I’m going to go to my fixed presets and type in Fast, and this will pull up Fast Blur; so if the Adjustment Layer is selected, I double click on Fast Blur, it’s going to apply it.

So I’m going to make the blurriness about 20 and you’ll see right now the image is basically fuzzy or blurry and the edges have this black line; so where it says Repeat Edge Pixels, click that to get rid of that.

Now the trick to making this work, is putting this adjustment layer in a Mode and you should see this right here, it says Mode and then Normal; if you don’t see this, come down to the toggle switches then click this so you see Mode and Normal.

Go to Normal and you want to put it into Soft Light Mode and that’s going to kick up the Contrast tier; so hit zero and the number of ram preview it where you can kind of get a look at it here.  And we can definitely see that the footage has more pop to it.  

If I basically want to toggle this on and off, I could just come over here and turn the eye off for the adjustment layer.

And we can see before and after.  If this is too strong, select the adjustment layer and hit T and that’s your shortcut for Opacity, and your amount, just click in here and drag down til it looks right to you.

The other thing we could do is add multiple filters to this; so we could go back to our effects and presets, and we could type in Toner, for CC Toner, double click that and you see by default it gives it a kind of brown tint.

If we wanted to make it more of a sepia, we could make it orange and you see it actually adjusts as we do this.  If I kind of want to give it a more dusty western look, we could do this.

For other great tips like this or to enroll in an After Effects training class, visit geniusdv.com

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