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Have you ever seen a film where one actor plays two characters in the same scene? How about a title sequence where two images or pieces of footage appear to overlap and blend together? These are both techniques that can only be accomplished through masking.
Masking is a great editing technique that allows you to blend two pieces of footage together into a single shot. Not only are they a great way to create surreal special effects, they can also serve a very practical role giving you the ability to overlay stylistic details such as extra dust particles in a carpenter shop or light flares for a more natural exterior shot.
Without the use of masking techniques, your video is restricted to the images as they were filmed. With masking however, the possibilities are endless!
Let’s take a deeper look at what masking is, some popular masking techniques, and how you can use masking to elevate the quality of your next video.
Masking is a feature contained in editing software that allows you to select a specific piece of a video or use video overlays to hide, duplicate, reveal, or modify your footage. The mask is the portion of footage that you’ve chosen to select, either with a template or a custom frame. This mask then becomes isolated, and you can manipulate it as you like to create your desired effect.
Masking techniques give you the ability to do some amazing things with your videos. You can clone your characters or objects, overlay multiple images, create glitch effects, blur out faces, and more. Masking makes videos more dynamic, fun to watch, and achieves a professional aesthetic that will draw attention - and keep it.
There are two different kinds of masks that relate to text. A text mask and a text reveal mask. A text mask is a mask created using text and shows video playing within text. A good example of this is from the opening credits of the AMC show Preacher. Here, a reveal mask allows for text to appear from on-screen from a specified area.
An image mask uses an alpha channel or grayscale to create a cutout or gradient of an image. When placed on a video this allows for another video or image to be seen within the image cutout.
Custom Masks are probably the most common mask. They are made with either a brush or selection tool. The uses of custom masks are almost unlimited as they can be used to select any portion in any dimensions of an image or video.
If there is an object in your frame that you’d rather do without, a mask is a great way to remove it. Duplication and blending work together with the mask to remove the unwanted object, subject, or detail.
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This is an opportunity to get very nuanced and creative with your masks. If you want a blend of styles, colors, types of footage, or graphics, simply overlay multiple video clips. The opacity tool will help you create inverted masks that let you see through the various layers, based on the type of result you want. Use blending options to seamlessly combine multiple clips so that your final video is cohesive, layered, and full of interesting visual appeal.
Masks can help you create more complex transitions between clips. You can overlay one clip atop another and adjust the transparency via a custom mask for an interesting faded effect.
You can also use a single figure as the masked element if you want to track them as part of the transition. Adjust the custom mask as the person moves off-screen. Lay this tracked figure over the top of the second clip to reveal it as the figure walks off-screen. These are just two examples, but there are many different ways to use masks to aid with your transitions.
Use a template to create a mask atop a person or object’s face if you want to blur them out. When you apply this technique, only the mask that you have created will blur or pixelate. The rest of the video will remain as-is. This mask technique is often used during interviews when the subject would like to remain anonymous, but can also be used to hide addresses, phone numbers, last names, or anything else that needs to be hidden for privacy purposes.
Cloning is when you combine two different pieces of footage of the same person that has been shot in the same place. The simplest example of this is any time the same actor must play two different characters in the same scene. Masking is used to isolate one figure and overlay them into the other piece of footage. When executed properly, cloning makes it appear as though the same person really is two different people living together in the same moment in a singular piece of footage.
If you’re ready to start overlaying video clips, merging videos, or blending two videos with masking, you’ll want to start with a great editing software. For desktop computers, PowerDirector Essential is a great free editing software that has extremely powerful masking tools.
And if you’re looking to edit video on an iPhone or Android phone, you can create masks with the PowerDirector App! Once you’ve got your editing software, you can learn how to create video masks on your desktop.
Now that you know what masking is and how you can use it to create stunning videos, it’s time to get creating. Test these techniques out and see what else you can come up with. As long as you have an editing software with mask tools, your imagination is your only limit. See you in the editing suite!
No matter which mask technique you want to use in your next YouTube video, vlog, film, or social media video, PowerDirector has the tools you need to make it happen. Our software is professional-grade and simple to use. Learn more about how PowerDirector can help you make every one of your videos stand out among the rest.
If you're an aspiring editor looking to create cool videos, head on over to our complete guide on video editing effects. We've also got other great articles in our blog that'll introduce you to all the tools you need to enhance your portfolio.