Masks are a powerful tool in video editing that allows you to selectively hide or reveal parts of a clip or image. In the video editing app Alight Motion, masks give you fine-grained control over your media, enabling you to create slick animations, dynamic transitions, cool effects, and more. Learning to use masks effectively will take your Alight Motion videos to the next level.
Understanding Masks in Alight Motion
Masking is the process of using shapes to selectively hide and reveal parts of an image or video clip. Masks create a cut-out effect by hiding everything outside the masked region, showing only the area within the mask.
Masks are incredibly useful for many reasons:
- Focus the viewer’s attention on a specific area of the frame
- Isolate and highlight a particular element or subject
- Create animated reveals by masking motion, titles, graphics, etc.
- Change the color or apply effects to just a portion of the frame
- Hide unwanted objects or blemishes in your footage
- Achieve seamless transitions between clips
- Add stylistic flourishes and slick custom animations
So, think of masks as selective “stencils” you can use to control visibility and apply isolated effects. Mastering them unlocks a whole new world of possibilities!
Masks work by creating closed shapes that define “inside” and “outside” areas. Anything inside the shape stays visible; everything else gets hidden. You can make masks using the Pen tool to draw custom shapes or preset shapes like circles, stars, and polygons.
Shapes can be moved, resized, and edited to achieve precise masking. Multiple masks can be used together to create complex visibility effects. And masks can be animated over time for dynamic reveals and motion graphics.
When you understand how to use masks creatively, you’ll be able to take your Alight Motion projects to new heights. Let’s look closer at the powerful mask types available…
Types of Masks in Alight Motion
Alight Motion provides three main types of masks for different masking effects:
The most basic mask type is a rectangle/square with adjustable borders. Use rectangles to quickly mask simple areas and geometric shapes.
Oval Masks and other objects
You can set a mask using different objects. Great for focal points and subtle vignette effects.
Pen Tool Masks
For maximum control, the Pen tool lets you draw freeform Bezier curves to create custom mask shapes. This takes more time but allows extremely precise masking.
Choosing the right mask type depends on your specific needs. Rectangles and ovals work well for geometric shapes and organic focal points. The Pen tool will give you frame-by-frame control for complex, intricate masking.
Keep in mind you can use multiple masks together for more advanced effects! For example, rectangular masks could expose a background, while oval masks highlight subjects in the foreground. Experiment to see which mask types serve your creative vision best.
Next, we’ll walk through how to start making your first masks in Alight Motion…
How to Create a Mask in Alight Motion
Creating masks in Alight Motion is easy and intuitive once you know the steps. Follow along with these tips:
1. Add Media
Import a photo, video clip, or graphic to use for masking. Tap the layer to select it before adding a mask.
2. Open Mask Tools
Tap the “Masks” icon in the toolbar to open the masking tools. Or tap the “+” button on your layer, then select “Mask”.
3. Choose Mask Type
Pick your desired mask shape – rectangle, oval, or pen. Each has pros and cons, as we learned earlier.
4. Draw the Initial Mask
Use your finger to draw out an initial mask shape on the canvas. Place and size it to cover the area you want to mask.
5. Adjust the Shape
Tap the shape’s anchor points to refine the mask outline if needed. Stretch, warp or rescale it for precision.
6. Feather the Edges (optional)
For softer edges, adjust the mask’s feather setting. Higher values blur the mask edge.
7. Animate and Tweak
Use keyframes to animate your mask over time. Continue tweaking until you get the perfect effect.
And that’s it – you’ve created and applied your first mask in Alight Motion! With practice, you’ll gain speed, efficiency, and comfort masking even complex shapes.
Here are some pro tips to help you master mask creation:
- Use rectangles to quickly mask geometric shapes and text.
- Start with coarse placement, then refine the shape. Don’t worry about perfection on the initial outline.
- Add feathering to oval masks for a subtle, natural falloff of edges.
- Enable snapping to help shapes perfectly align to lines and borders.
- Animate mask expansion to gradually reveal an image over time.
- Mask motion paths to reveal text and graphics as they move across the frame.
Avoiding common mistakes will also help you become a pro mask creator faster:
- Don’t forget to select a layer before adding masks to it!
- Make sure to close the mask shape, leaving no gaps in the outline.
- Watch for uneven edges that should align with borders.
- Don’t use excessive feathering that causes unwanted transparency.
- Beware of distorted or stretched masks that don’t fit the subject.
Mastering the basics opens the door to a new world of cool masking techniques covered next…
Advanced Masking Techniques in Alight Motion
Now that you know how to create masks in Alight Motion, let’s look at some more advanced ways to use them for awesome effects:
Animating masks over time is an incredibly powerful technique. As you change mask shapes from one frame to the next, you can achieve dynamic motion reveals, custom transitions, and slick animated effects.
Keyframe the mask shape at different sizes/locations to animate over time. For example:
- Animate a rectangular mask to reveal scrolling text or credits
- Expand a circular vignette mask to focus the viewer’s eye
- Progressively mask layers to create a custom transition effect
Animate mask feathering to gradually blend masked edges in or out.
Mask motion paths to reveal an object as it moves across the frame. The mask shape follows the motion.
Masks for Color Correction
Masks allow you to isolate and apply color adjustments to specific regions of your footage. For example:
Mask a person’s face, then use brightness/contrast and color effects only within the masked area. This leaves the rest of the image unchanged.
Mask a background object like the sky, then tint a different color for a stylized look.
Mask and desaturate the background to make a subject pop with color isolation.
Targeted color correction with masks creates possibilities like cinematic color grading for a high-end polished look.
Masks for Special Effects
Masking also unlocks a whole world of cool special effects:
Mask portions of duplicate layers and offset them to create a double vision/ghosting effect.
Mask layers into strips like Venetian blinds and animate them for a dynamic grungy look.
Mask sparkles/debris to composite onto the screen for magic effects or transitions.
Mask light leaks/optical effects using glow and blending modes for the atmosphere.
With creative layering and animation, you can build unique “signature” effects to establish your artistic brand.
Possible difficulties and mistakes
Learning to troubleshoot masking problems will help you overcome creative roadblocks:
The mask has rough, jagged edges
- Refine shape with more minor adjustments to anchor points
- Increase feathering to smooth out edges
Mask shape suddenly jumps position
- Turn off mask snapping if shapes are sticking to the grid
- Ensure no gaps are in the mask outline
The masked effect looks messy/inconsistent
- Clean up mask shape, align edges with borders
- Reduce feathering to sharpen edges
Mask moves incorrectly when animated
- Check for unwanted mask anchor point movement
- Delete and recreate animation keys for a clean slate
Mask animation progresses too fast/slow
- Adjust the easing curve in the animation graph
- Use more incremental animation keys
Masking looks perfect in the preview but exports incorrectly
- Increase export resolution to match sequence settings
- Render uncompressed format to avoid compression artifacts
With practice, you’ll be able to quickly diagnose common masking problems based on recognizable visual symptoms. Avoiding sloppy, rushed masks will also reduce technical issues.
If you ever feel stuck with a tricky masking problem, some general troubleshooting tips can help:
- Isolate and delete masks one by one to identify the problem shape
- Zoom way in to check mask edges at pixel level
- Start a complex mask again from scratch if needed
- Search Alight Motion help docs or forums for solutions
- Try masking on a simplified test clip to replicate the issue
Don’t get frustrated! Masking is a learned skill that takes time and patience to master. But the payoff of executing slick effects makes it all worthwhile.