After Effects Tutorial – Track Mattes

Track matting can be helpful when working with text in After Effects. The video above takes a look at how to pull off a “punched-out” look where the text is overlayed on the video in such a way that you can still see the video underneath and the actual text itself is completely see through. A common issue that arises is not having the “Modes” column turned on. If “Modes” is not turned on you won’t be able to see the track matte column. To find it, right click on the top row inside your composition and you’ll see several options. Make sure “Modes” is checked and you’ll be able to use track matte.

You have a couple of options, like Alpha Matte, Alpha Matte Inverted, Luma Matte and Luma Matte Inverted. I primarily use the Alpha Matte and Alpha Inverted, but you can be the judge and play around with it for yourself. For more information about alpha compositing, check out this Wikipedia entry. Yeah, I know. Why am I linking to Wikipedia? Because it’s the easiest way to show you what alpha matte and alpha compositing is.

The A of the alpha is relatable to the RGB(A). White is opaque and black is transparent. So in the video, the white portion of our layer, when alpha matted shows what is beneath and because there is no area outside of our text in the text layer, nothing else shows, giving you a transparent background.

Hopefully this has helped increase your knowledge of track matting in after effects. If not, let me know what you find that helps out more. Also, if you have ideas for more tutorials, feel free to let me know in the comments below.

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John Hartley is a Director of Product Engineering at Beam Dental in Columbus, OH. With 5+ years of leadership experience he has worked in startups, agencies, and began his career as a freelance Front End Developer. Always looking to iterate, this blog is a place for him to share his knowledge as well as hone his craft, challenge assumptions, and build a strong base of leadership and management knowledge. Connect with him on LinkedIn

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