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Creating an After Effects Transparent Background and Making an Asset Reusable

  1. How to get the After Effects transparent background?
  2. Saving the file with the After Effects transparent background
  3. Create the After Effects transparent background for a GIF file

After effects transparent background. AE is a very powerful editing package that is used by professionals who create stunning videos. It’s important not only to make a perfect product, but you also need to make sure that it doesn’t take too much time. This is when transparency in After Effects can be extremely useful. Moreover, understanding the entire concept of transparency in After Effects is crucial to understanding how to use this software properly. It’s impossible to add complex effects without using this feature. Therefore, it should be one of the first tasks you need to focus on. Luckily, there is nothing difficult about exporting an After Effects transparent background, but there are still some nuances that you must keep in mind.

Another advantage of a transparent background in After Effects is that you can reuse the asset later. Here’s a simple example: You have a file and you spend some time to mask the necessary object and remove the background. You can save it to use in your future projects. Therefore, you don’t need to mask the necessary object again. This saves some time later. It can save you hours if the object is difficult to mask. Creating a transparent background in After Effects shouldn’t be too difficult. This package has multiple tools that can help you remove unnecessary data.


How to get the After Effects transparent background?

First, you need to make sure that you can see the transparency. To do that, you need to check the panel located under the composition panel. It has a small button with a checkered icon – click on it to activate the Transparency Grid. If you use Photoshop, then you will see white-gray little squares that show transparency. You can click on the button again to disable this feature. If you clicked on the button and you don’t see the white-gray squares then you don’t have transparency.

Let’s consider a simple case. You’ve added various elements and animated them. You like the result and you want this asset to be available in the future. This is the time when you need to know how to make a transparent background in After Effects. Usually, you add a layer or multiple layers, and then you add various elements so that you have a background layer that you want to be completely (uniformly) transparent. Here is where you can modify the background layer opacity. You can also make it semi-transparent. It’s easy when you create something from scratch (when you add various elements, like text or images, etc.). However, how do you make a transparent background in After Effects when you start with a video?

This task is more difficult and it depends on various factors:

  • How complex is the shape of the object you want to extract?
  • How complex are the elements that have to be removed?
  • Do any elements cover the object that has to be extracted?
  • Is there enough contrast?

Again, there are many ways to make a background transparent in After Effects. One of the best ways to start dealing with this task is to check the compositing section on the official website of the Adobe product. There are multiple tools available to you and each tool is better for certain situations. It’s impossible to name just one tool that will always do what you need. Quite often, you may need to use several tools to make a background transparent in After Effects. You can use masks and modify them. While sometimes, keying can be enough to get a transparent background in After Effects CC.

Therefore, if you want to become a professional, you may need to learn all the available tools and know how you can combine them to deal with the most difficult tasks. Again, creating a transparent background in After Effects CC can be quite difficult even if you know how all the tools work – the object that has to be extracted may have many small parts (like hair). That’s the case when you may have to spend several hours on it to make sure you remove the unnecessary background. Having spent hours removing the background, the last thing you want to do is have to do it all over again later. Therefore, an important question arises – “how do you export a transparent background in After Effects to save your work and time in the future?”


Saving the file with the After Effects transparent background

AE works with numerous codecs and file formats, so preserving the After Effects transparent property isn’t a big deal.

Nevertheless, you need to know that the term “alpha channel” is also used when we talk about transparency. The key thing to remember is that not all formats support the alpha channel. However, if you use the native format you shouldn’t have any problems saving the After Effects transparent property.

Here’s a quick table with the file formats that save the alpha channel (which means that you can use transparency):

Format and codec Channel bits
AVI 32
Avid Meriden (compressed and uncompressed) 8
Cineon 16
Avid DNxHD (DNxHR) 10 (12)
Quicktime Mov 32
Quicktime GoPro CineForm 12
Apple ProRess 4444 (XQ) 12 (16)

You can also save an image sequence. Some of the most popular image file formats that include the alpha channel are PNG, TGA, TIFF, GIF, OpenEXR, SGI, etc. It’s always better to check everything beforehand to make sure that you can export a transparent video from After Effects.

You may wonder how to export from After Effects with a transparent background. The process is quite simple:

  • Make sure that your video uses the transparency feature (you can click on the button with a checkered icon located under the composition window).
  • Now you need to render the video (add it to the render queue).
  • It opens the output settings where you can change the necessary format (again, make sure that the format supports the alpha channel).
  • Change the channel options – it should be set to “RGB+ALPHA”.
  • Render the video.

It’s also important to focus on the channels. Some formats use an 8-bit alpha channel while other file formats use a 32-bit channel. The higher the value – the more precise the transparency information is stored. However, it’s a double-edged sword. A file with a 32-bit alpha channel will be larger. It’s not a big issue if you need to export one short video, but what if you need to export 50 short videos? They may require a significant amount of space. Therefore, you need to choose the format carefully. Sometimes, you may not need the 32-bit precision. If the output resolution is not very high – you may not need the 32-bit precision as well.

Now that you know how to export a transparent background in after effects, you are ready to create stunning assets that can be used in the future.


Create the After Effects transparent background for a GIF file

One of the file formats that can support transparency is GIF. This file format is often used when you need to create a short animation. Website developers and designers use such files as well. However, GIF isn’t the best option, because it has a limit – 256 colors. However there are still ways to use more colors, but an advantage of this format is that it supports animation and the alpha channel.

AE is not the best option when it comes to creating a GIF file. Nonetheless, there’s a solution:

  • Render a lossless video with the alpha channel
  • Open it as an image sequence in Photoshop
  • Save it as a GIF file

Usually, people use various products from Adobe, as the combination of these tools can help you create everything you need.

Again, GIF files are mainly used for short animations, but it doesn’t support many colors – therefore, the animation may look grainy and noisy. If you want to have a lossless animation then you should consider using APNG (Animated PNG). Such files are larger than GIF files, but the quality is better.

Now you know how to make a background transparent in After Effects and you are able to create assets that can be used in the future. Creating a video can take a while and it’s important to know how to save some time. One of the options is to get the necessary assets. If you want to create something impressive, then you should consider getting a nice intro here. It has a search box, so you can find what you need. Here’s a small sample of what you can get there:

Best After Effects Templates Table

Name Short description Price
Liquid Titles This is a great option when you want to make everything more dynamic. Such titles are great for some “non-formal” videos. The animation is smooth and it will certainly make your video look more interesting. $64
Lyric Titles If you want to make titles look amazing, then this is just what you need. It includes numerous effects. It comes with transitions and sound effects, so you have everything you need to make your video stand out. This product helps to make titles look amazing. $64
Stylish Slideshow Do you want to share your memories? If you do, then this product is perfect for you. You can easily change the text, add your photos and you will have a nice video. It would be perfect to create anniversary or travel videos where you can show the brightest moments. You can also add some text to deliver a required message. $64
Funny Abstract Shapes These lively elements will make your video dynamic. It has several animated elements that can improve your project. Such shapes are great when you want to make people focus on something in particular. They are also great if you create a cartoon and you need special effects. $64
Liquid Transitions Transitions are important. This pack includes various transitions that will make your project look more interesting. Moreover, you will also get sound effects. There are different transitions so you can choose the one that will work perfectly with your project. $35

Read Also

Most Popular After Effects Shortcuts [Keyboard, iOS]

How to use after effects? Is Adobe After Effects an Extraterrestrial Technology?

How to Choose the Best After Effects Alternative – 5 Free Products to Use in 2020

How to render in after effects? A few useful tips about Rendering

Magic Tricks of Adobe After Effects Wiggle Expression


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Posting contributed articles about the major web design highlights and novelties. Come across a handful of useful tutorials and guides shared by experts in the web design and online marketing fields.

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