This is going to be a good post. If you produce video and have ever taken advantage of transitions between scenes, you’re in for a treat. I’m going to show you have to make one specific type of transition from scratch. Step by step. I’ll be taking advantage of masks, so if you aren’t up to snuff on them, you can easily learn all you need to know in this post:
Of course, I have many more posts that talk about using masks in Photoshop, so if you’re interested in that topic, simply type “Photoshop Mask” in the search bar at the top of this website. You’ll find everything you need.
In today’s post, I’m going to walk you through the steps of applying a mask to a video layer and then animating that mask by using keyframes in the Timeline panel of Adobe Photoshop. In effect, the mask will act as a shield that will hide one layer and slowly reveal that layer as the playhead moves down the timeline. After you read this post and see all the parts in motion, I think you’ll agree that the concept of creating an animated transition effect is rather simple. Even the steps are simple, so please read on down below to get started.
Setting Up the Video Clips
I already have both demo video clips set up in Photoshop. I had to resize one and drag it over into the other video tab, so by altering the size of the one I moved, Photoshop made me change the layer into a Smart Object. This is normal and it isn’t an issue. Just in case you’re wondering why one clip on the timeline is purple and the other is blue, this is the reason. Here’s a screenshot of part of the Timeline panel.
As far as the layers over in the Layers panel go, there are only two of them and they aren’t grouped. Here is a screenshot of them.
I think I’m ready to go. I already moved the top clip in the Timeline panel so it overlaps the bottom clip a bit. This is necessary because as the transition slides across the screen, both clips will be in view for a bit. Remember, everything I do below is completely adjustable. It’s the process you want to keep your eye on, not the specifics.
Adding a Layer Mask
I have two video clips. The first one plays through and towards the end, it begins to fade into nighttime darkness. It also gets sort of blurry towards the end. The second clip begins anew in daytime. I overlapped the daytime clip for just a few seconds, while the other clip fades. Basically, I want to add a layer mask that will hide part of the daytime clip and that will wipe across the screen so the transition between clips is much smoother. So, the second step of this process, after setting the clips up like I did above, is to create a layer mask that’s attached to the second, daytime, clip. You’ll get what I’m saying below.
To create the mask, I’ll first make sure the proper layer in the Layers panel is selected. I’ll click on that to be sure. Then, I’ll use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to select that entire layer. I can either draw the selection out or I can simply use the keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+A to select all. Either way, the entire layer will be selected and the marching ants will be visible. Take a look. You can see the marching ants along the outer edge of the image.
Next, since I want this particular layer to be hidden, I’d like a layer mask that’s black. With this in mind, I’ll head up to the Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All and click.
Once I do that, I’ll see the image of the daytime video disappear to be replaced by the one below it. The one that’s currently ending.
I’ll also notice that the black layer mask icon appeared on the selected layer in the Layers panel.
Really, all I’ve done so far is basic layer masking 101.
Unlinking & Moving the Mask
Since this mask will be animated, I will need to unlink it from the layer it’s currently attached to. Doing this is really easy. To unlink a mask from a layer, all I need to do is to click on the small chain icon that sits to the left of the mask thumbnail in the Layers panel.
I circled the chain link in red in the above screenshot.
Once I unlink the mask from the layer, the chain link will disappear. Also, I’ll be able to move the mask independently from the layer itself. I’ll go ahead and slide the mask around a bit so you can see what I’m talking about.
NOTE: If you find that you can’t move the layer mask, even after unlinking the mask from the layer, you may need to create the mask using a different method. Again, make your selection the same way I did above. This time though, instead of using the menu up top to create the mask, hold down the Alt key on your keyboard and click on the Create Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. This will create a black mask. Not pressing the Alt key create a white one. In the next screenshot, I circled the mask icon at the bottom of the Layers panel as well as moved the mask as an example.
Feathering Edges & Transforming Mask
The next thing I’d like to do is to feather the edges of the mask, so when it slides across the screen, it’s nice and soft. To do this, I’ll double-click on the mask thumbnail in the Layers panel. Once I do that, the mask Properties panel will open up. Inside the panel is a Feather slider. I’ll push this slider to the right until I hit the 50px mark. You may have to choose a different value depending on your video dimensions. In the screenshot below, you can see the Properties panel and the feathered edge.
This is great, but there’s one problem. When I feathered the edges, Photoshop decided to reveal more of the right edge than I wanted it to. Basically, once the playhead hits the mark on the video where the mask becomes present, part of the second video will show immediately. I don’t want that. So, to hide all of the video and keep the mask feathered, I’ll need to transform the mask so it’s a bit wider. To do this, I’ll use the Free Transform keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+T and click and drag the right side of the transformation box until I can’t see any feathering anymore.
When I’m finished, I’ll press Enter on my keyboard to accept the transformation.
Animating the Mask
Okay, all the pieces are in place to begin the animation. All that’s left is to do some work down in the Timeline panel.
First, I’ll make sure the playhead down in the Timeline panel is set so it’s right at the beginning of the second clip. Then, I’ll position the layer mask so it’s hiding all of that clip. I shouldn’t be able to see any of it at all. After that, I’ll click the small arrow that sits to the left of the layer name before the timeline itself. Doing this will reveal the animations options.
Since everything else is set up, I’ll go ahead and click the Layer Mask Position option to create a keyframe.
The first keyframe is set. That tells Photoshop that an animation is about to occur. Since I’d like a four second transition, I’ll push the playhead to the right by four seconds.
Finally, I’ll make sure the mask thumbnail in the Layers panel is still selected, hold down the Shift key on my keyboard to restrict the movement of the mask laterally and use the Move Tool to drag the mask all the way over to the left until it’s not visible anymore. When I do all this and then let go of the mouse pointer, a new keyframe will appear on the timeline automatically. This tells Photoshop to stop the animation.
Now, if I click on the Play button in the timeline, I’ll see the animation in action. The second video will appear from right to left and it’ll show via a soft transition. As I mentioned above, all of this is adjustable after the fact. If I want to somehow change the movement of the mask, I can do that. If I want to shorten the transition itself, I can click and drag the keyframes. All the necessary elements are now in the file and I can do what I please with them. It’s that easy.
While this type of project takes some getting used to, once you do it a few times, it really becomes second nature. In this case, the toughest part was getting used to using a mask in an animation. Photoshop has no issue with this type of thing at all, so you just need to know the steps. Anyway, I hope I clearly explained how to create a video transition effect using Adobe Photoshop. If you have any questions or concerns regarding this post, please leave them in the comment section below. Thanks for reading!