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Tutorial: Using Adjustment Layers with your Videos

By using adjustment layers in Adobe After Effects, you can easily create a variety of looks for your videos and share and compare them with clients

This tutorial will demonstrate how to use adjustment layers inside of Adobe After Effects to stylize your videos. The great thing about adjustment layers is that you can quickly turn them on and off to quickly show your client a variety of visual looks for their videos.

In this video tutorial, I start with applying this technique to a clip already on my Adobe Premiere timeline. Right-click on your video and select the Replace with After Effects Composition option. This selection will launch Adobe After Effects. Go ahead and give your project a name and save it somewhere on your system.

Once the After Effects project is open, you will see that your video clip from Premiere is already on the After Effects timeline. Next, apply adjustment layers on top of this video by navigating to Layer in the toolbar and selecting New, followed by Adjustment Layer.

Now you have added an adjustment layer on top of your video clip. Next, duplicate this adjustment layer twice by navigating to Edit in the toolbar and selecting Duplicate. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Command+D on a Mac or Ctrl+D on a Windows system to duplicate the layer.

Next, rename these layers by right-clicking on each layer and selecting Rename. This will you keep track of the different looks and options you are creating.

Following renaming, go ahead and hide the top two adjustment layers by selecting the eyeball icon next to each layer. This turns on and off the visibility of your layers. By doing this, you can see how each effect will look on top of your video clip by itself.

From here, apply different effects to each of these adjustment layers. I used some of the prebuilt animation presets inside of After Effects to save on time.

Navigate over to the Effects & Presets window and extend the drop down options for the Animation Presets folder. Next, scroll down to the Image Creative subfolder and drag the Colorize…blue wash effect over to your first adjustment layer. You will now see how that effect looks on our video. You can make some adjustments to this effect in Effects Controls window until you get the look you like. By clicking the eyeball icon, you can see what the video looks like with and without the effect you just added.

Next, hide the first adjustment layer and unhide the second adjustment layer. Again, I will use the animation presets folder in the effects panel and add the Colorize Gold Dip effect. This will give your video clip a much warmer look. Now go ahead and change the color picker option to a red collor rather than gold. After you have selected a color, you can adjust the opacity levels and blending modes in the Effect Controls window. Now you can turn on and off the visibility of both adjustment layers and compare the styles.

Finally, add one more look to the 3rd adjustment layer. Make it visible and then navigate back to the Effects & Presets window and select the Image Special Effects folder. From the dropdown options, we will choose Night Vision and drag that over to our third adjustment layer. This will give our video clip a night/militaristic feel.

Now, with a few clicks of the visibility icons, you can compare the different looks and share them with your client or customer. You can take screenshots and send them off without having to render or export the entire video. This workflow is a great way to save time, while also giving you a few different options on stylizing your videos.

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