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How do I use compositing modes in Sony Vegas?

Learn how to use compositing modes in Sony Vegas.

We are in Sony Vegas 8.0 today looking at compositing modes. In case you are not familiar with this term it is also called transfer modes in other applications. Compositing modes can be real fun to play around with to get unique looks to your work. This technique can be what separates you from amatures. As I said in a previous tutorial, these compositing modes allow you to achieve looks like you see on CSI: Miami.

If you do not have Sony Vegas Pro 8.0, here is the link to download the trial version at http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/vegaspro. This is a great product for the money if you cannot afford the Adobe suite.

First, let's go ahead and start a new project in Sony by clicking on the new project icon in the top-left corner below File.

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I have a project already open, and I am going to use it as my subject for this tutorial. You can use any footage that you wish.

Next you will need to browse for your footage in the project media window and select the folder that looks like a file with a music note above it. Once you have selected it, drag your footage into the new comp. You will need two new layers of the same footage to achieve this first technique.

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What we are going to do is to use one of the Gaussian Blur presets and custom adjust to tweak it to taste. It is kind of like watching grandma cook…a pinch of this and a dab of that and if you asked her to write down the recipe it would be virtually impossible to replicate. Take the top footage and apply the Gaussian Blur to only that layer.

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Once that has been done, a window will pop up for you to customize this effect. For the Horizontal and Vertical range, I selected .021.

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Your results will look something like this. Don't freak because we're not done yet. Now for the compositing modes, on the far-left tool bar, select the compositing menu and select "screen."

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This is looking much better. You might want to play around with the other choices in this menu. It will help you better grasp this concept for future projects. I want to take this one step further though and add a vignette. To begin, go back to the top and select the "Media Generators" tab and then select ""Color Gradient."

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Click and drag the elliptical white to black onto a new layer in the timeline. Once you see the media generators window appear, click on the number two to adjust the color to a brown.

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Then to adjust the gradient I clicked on the plus sign to add a new control point. Once you select a control point you will notice that the color pallet will let you change the color to achieve different looks.

Now that you have closed that window, go back to your compositing modes and select "Multiply (Mask)."

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The result will look something like this.

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You may be wondering why the layer is semitransparent in some places and transparent in others. It is something commonly known as the Alpha channel. Alpha compositing is the process of combining an image with a background to create the appearance of partial transparency. It is often useful to render image elements in separate passes, and then combine the resulting multiple 2D images into a single, final image in a process called compositing. For example, compositing is used extensively when combining computer-rendered image elements with live footage as we have in this example.

That is enough of the technical stuff. I talked about CSI: Miami in the beginning portion of this tutorial, and I know you guys are begging for me to show you. More than likely you don't care, but I am going to show you anyway.

Earlier in this same comp that I am using here as my subject I applied that CSI: Miami filter. Go back to your Media Generators tab and drag the red and yellow into the comp.

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Once that is done, select the same composite mode as the vignette Multiply (Mask). The result will look something like this with a little tweaking.

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That is pretty much it for me. As you can see there is a ton of possibilities using this single technique, and this will be another great tool in your arsenal for future projects.

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