After Effects Tutorial: 3 Most Popular Transitions For Videos

After Effects 26/08/2020 5 min read

In this After Effects Transitions tutorial, we’ll walk through creating 3 of the most popular transitions you commonly see in movies, TV shows, and online. While premade transitions often come with options to modify their look and feel, only by creating a transition yourself can you really have 100% creative control to design the exact aesthetic you seek. 

The Slide Transition utilizes the transform property to glide from one clip to the next, in any direction you choose. The Matte Transition uses custom texture images to reveal the following clip in a stylish animation. Finally, we’ve laid out the steps for creating your own 3D Warp 

Part 1: How to Make Your Own Custom After Effects Slide Transitions

One of the most popular transitions, slides can resemble quick camera pans, which makes them a great energetic yet subtle choice for switching between clips in the same scene. Creating your own custom slide transition gives you control over the speed and direction as well as leaves room for any further creative customization you might have in mind. 

Step 1: Add Adjustment Layer & Transform Effect 

Once you have your media loaded in After Effects, the first thing you’ll need to do is create an Adjustment Layer where you can begin altering the motion and appearance of your clips. 

  1. Add your 2 clips, one after another in the Timeline
  2. In the top menu, select Layer > New > Adjustment Layer.
  3. Again at the top menu, select Effect > Distort > Transform.

Step 2: Use Keyframe to Add Motion

Keyframes allow you to adjust the properties of any clip, such as its position. After Effects will automatically fill in the difference between any 2 keyframes by animating the clip, creating motion. We’ll be using keyframes to create the sliding effect for our transition.

  1. Move the playhead to just half a second before your position and toggle on the Keyframe icon to the left of Position.
  2. Now move the playhead to half a second after the transition and adjust the Position by clicking and dragging the x coordinate to the left until the entire view appears black.
  3. Back to the top menu, select Effect > Stylize > CC RepeTile.
  1. Finally, adjust the Expand Right property under CC RepeTile, until all the black space has been filled-in with repeating tiles of your video. 
  2. Keep adjusting the Position and CC RepeTile until your image stops centered in the shot right where it needs to be to end the transition. 

Step 3: Add Motion Blur

If you like the way your transition looks already, you can stop here. But if you’d prefer to add a little realistic blur, we can do this fairly simply by just toggling 2 switches in After Effects. 

  1. Enable motion blur by toggling the Motion Blur switch.
  2. Add motion blur to your adjustment track by clicking in the blank box below the Motion Blur icon. 
  3. Move the playhead to the beginning of your transition and press Space to preview it. 

Pretty simple right? Using this same technique you can create slides transitions that move left, right, up, down and even diagonal. Just make sure to adjust the CC RepeTile expand properties to fill in any black areas you might create in the process. 

Part 2: How to Create After Effects Matte Transitions

For a more detailed and professional touch, matte transitions are stylish and unique. If you follow along with these 3 steps, you’ll be able to create your own, personalized matte transitions in After Effects with ease! 

Step 1: Add your Clips and Matte Image

Your matte transition will combine texture images to create the effect, which gives you creative freedom–you can use any image you want! In this case we’ll be using paint stroke textures for our transition, but you could easily use pencil strokes, tire tracks, paw prints, etc. The sky’s the limit. 

  1. Add your 2 video clips to the composition, with the second clip on top of the first one, and roughly 1 second of overlap between them.
  2. Add your image to the composition.
  3. Adjust its Position so it’s not perfectly centered. 
  4. Modify the Scale property so that your image takes up nearly a quarter of the frame. 

Step 2: Add a Linear Wipe to Your Matte

The linear wipe effect will paint your matte on the screen from left to right, top to bottom, or however you choose. 

  1. Navigate to the top menu: Effect > Transition > Linear Wipe.
  2. Move to the beginning of the transition and add a keyframe for Transition Completion. Set it to 100%. 
  3. Move forward in the Timeline about ½ second and bring the Transition Completion property down to 0%. 
  4. Now increase the Feather property to 200 or more. 

Step 3: Duplicate Your Matte Across the Canvas

Now that you’ve added one matte image, it’s time to duplicate that effect until it fills the entire canvas. Make sure to add variety by adjusting the position, size, rotation, and even wipe angle.

  1. Either duplicate your original image or add another texture image if you prefer. 
  2. Adjust the Position of your duplicate so it covers another part of the canvas and doesn’t overlap your first image. 
  3. Also adjust the Scale so it is a little bigger or smaller than your first matte image.
  4. If your image is new (not a duplicate of the first one), add the Linear Wipe transition to it as you did in Step 1. 
  5. Drag your new image slightly ahead in the Timeline just a couple frames.
  6. Repeat all these steps until the entire canvas is filled with your matte images. You can also choose to rotate your images to add variety. 

Step 4: Combine Your Layers into an Alpha Matte 

Once you’re happy with the look of your matte animation, it’s time to combine all your images together into one track. This track will form the matte for your transition, and the black you saw in previous steps will be replaced with imagery from your second clip in the transition.

  1. Select all your matte image layers and then at the top menu navigate to Layer > Precompose
  2. Name your new layer and select OK.
  3. In the Timeline drag your matte layer so the effect begins at the same time as your 2nd clip. Then under TrkMat set this layer to Alpha Matte.

Once you’ve completed the steps above, move the playhead to the beginning of the timeline and press Space. Your Matte transition should come to life, painting over your first clip in stylish strokes to reveal the second clip of your transition.

Part 3: How to Create 3D Warp Transitions in After Effects

This 3D bend transition provides mind blowing depth to your composition as it zooms into your footage and lands on the next clip. You can create it yourself easily in After Effects by just following these steps.

  1. Load your 2 clips into the timeline, with one beginning just as the other ends.  
  2. On the top menu, navigate to Layer > New > Adjustment Layer.
  3. Next, return to the top menu and select Effect > Distort > Optics Compensation
  4. On the Timeline drag the playhead to the beginning of your transition, approximately .5 seconds before the 2nd clip begins. 
  5. Tick the Keyframe option besides Field Of View
  6. Now move forward on the Timeline to the midpoint of your transition, and adjust the Field of View property to 150.
  7. Move forward on the Timeline to the end of your transition. Bring the Field Of View property back down to 0. 
  8. Finally, tick Reverse Lens Distortion to fill in the black areas and complete the effect. 

Creating your own transitions gives you the creative control to customize them exactly how you want. On top of that, it’s enlightening to learn how many of the most popular transitions out there are constructed “behind the scenes”. After you’ve learned how to create your own slide, matte, and 3D warp transitions, you might be curious about what else is out there. If you’d like to learn more, check out this tutorial on creating your own shape transitions in After Effects.

And if you’d like to see what other transitions are available, make sure to take a look at Motion Array’s vast library of transitions, effects, and plugins for After Effects. There’s so much to choose from, including many popular transitions you’re probably already familiar with, and creative effects that will totally blow your mind.