How To Create A Quick Change Effect In After Effects


Hi guys! Jordan with Motion Array and today we’re going over an effect that we pulled off in this video here.  It’s a classic quick change and we’re going to go over how to film it and how to make it look like magic in after effects! So let’s get into it!

How To Create A Quick Change Effect In After Effects

The following text has been transcribed for optimal reading

This is a classic effect that’s seen a lot of variations pulled off over the years.  But it all comes down to a few key principles.

1 lock off you shot on a tripod
2 keep your body oriented exactly the same way so it’s easier to match up in post
3 either distract with motion or completely cover whatever is changing

Step 1 is pretty simple.  Lock off your camera on a tripod.  Make sure that you like the way that your subject looks and more importantly, MAKE SURE that the lighting won’t change at all from take to take.  So outdoors, or with a window as a light source will likely give you some problems.

Step 2 Now that you’ve locked off your shot, decide what you want to change about your subject. This effect isn’t just for clothing, it can be for any visual element of your subject, even changing the subject entirely.  This is where you’ll then find a motion, or object that you can cover the portion of your subject that you want to change. You can go to the extreme and completely cover your subject like with a blanket or another large object.  But there’s always other ways that you can get this same result. In this video we first showed the effect with, I just used my hands to crossover my body. This worked because there was always a point where my body was covered from left to right, and you couldn’t see behind it.   

Remember the goal is to have 3 parts, a beginning where you start in one state, a middle where you cross over between these two states, and an end where you reveal your change.  But you don’t even technically need to cover your subject as long as you keep your body perfectly oriented between takes. As long as there’s a motion to follow through from one state to the other, you can seamlessly cut between the two states.  You can really get creative with what this is. Like I said before, you could use your hands, a blanket, or even just use a distinct motion to bridge the gap.

Make sure that when you start filming, you start by doing the initial take before the change over and over again.  The more times you do it, the more variation you have to work with in editing and the more likely a take will work better to merge the beginning and end.  Then, remembering the exact orientation your body was in. Change whatever element you want to appear different after the quick change. It helps if you keep your feet in exactly the same place and just have the other items in reaching distance.  You can also mark your feet position on the floor just in case you absolutely have to move.

Now that you’ve changed your outfit or other elements, follow through on the same motion that you started with in the first take.  The goal is that if you were to just cut between them with no fancy editing, you’d be able to see it act as 1 complete piece of footage minus the change in outfit.  

Now that you’ve gotten all your takes, bring your footage into after effects.  This is where you take your footage from good to great. Look through the takes that you did for both the beginning and the end.  Your goal isn’t necessarily to find your favourite take of each, but which two takes matchup as exactly close as possible.

Once you find those two, line them up and cut them down so that they cut between one to the other as flawlessly as possible.  What can really help is to overextend them over each other and then drop the opacity of the top clip so you can see them both at the same time.  

Now if you just have a distracting motion, you can simply cut between one to the other on the most violent part of the motion.  But if you have something covering the subject, you’re going to need to do some masking.

Start with the top clip as the clip that comes first in the sequence.  And as you approach the point where you want to make the transition happen, mask around whatever is covering frame.  Play around with masking either a very small section, or entire sections of your video. Depending on how you shot your video and how exactly you kept your body orientation, either of these methods may work better than the other.  Keyframe your mask to reveal your new subject as it wipes across and passes over different parts of your subject. The more motion your object has, the greater likelihood that you can feather your mask to cover up any unfortunate mistakes.

And now what you should be left with is an effect that makes it look like you’re practically a magician.   Because that’s what editing is really. It’s magic. It’s making your audience see something that’s not real, but looks so real that you have no choice but to believe it.  

But that’s it for me today here guys!  If you liked this video, check out all our others over at Thanks so much for watching, and I can’t wait to see you in the next video!

Well, that concludes this tutorial. I hope you found it helpful, if you did, please give us a thumbs up and if you’d like to see more tutorials, we’ve got lots of other Premiere Pro TutorialsAfter Effects tutorials, and filmmaking tutorials for you to check out!

Thanks for watching and see you in the next video.

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