Fading to black correctly

One of the first things I learned at my first internship was how to properly dissolve with multiple layers of footage. I began to notice incorrect dissolves in the wild, and it still drives me crazy, 5 years later. To me, it’s a sign of a sloppy edit.

There are several signs that a composited image is being dissolved incorrectly. First, you can see through things that should be solid. Second, white parts of the image seem to lag behind everything else in the race to black, causing a glowing effect.

Here’s an example- I’m green screening this lovely woman over her company’s logo and a beautiful background.

Here’s my layers- Background on the bottom, then the logo, and then the woman.

It’s all good- until I need to fade in and out. The sloppy way is to simply put dissolves on each individual track.

Quick and easy, right? Maybe, but you end up with a fade that looks like this-

Suddenly, the talent has a red moustache from the logo. She has also turned into a ghost, letting the background shine through her. The white in the logo seems to glow abnormally. Sure, this all happens in less than a second- but it is enough to ruin the idea that the talent is actually in front of the background. You can pull the best key in the world- but if you do this, it reveals the fact that it’s all fake.

So how do you do it correctly? There are two ways. My preferred way is to add slug to a track above the rest, and fade it in or out.

This keeps everything properly composited, in the correct visual order.

Another method is to nest the layers, and then fade the nest in and out. Again, this keeps everything in the proper order.

Here is a loop of the wrong way to dissolve:

And the correct way to dissolve:

Posted in Editing

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