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Using Track Matte and Tracking in Adobe After Effects: Reviewing All Possibilities

Larry Jordan
Larry Jordan Originally published Nov 27, 23, updated Mar 27, 24

The realm of video editing has seen significant progress in recent years. With premium tools such as Adobe After Effects, you can take your videos to the next level. However, not every tool is easy to navigate. Some features in popular video editing software can be hard to get around.

The following guide provides valuable insight on how to use Track Matte in After Effects. Explore the endless possibilities of Track Mattes After Effects and Mask Tracking in After Effects. Also, discover a simple alternative to make After Effects mask tracking easy.

In this article
  1. Part 1: How to Utilize Track Mattes in Adobe After Effects?
  2. Part 2: Performing Mask Tracking With Adobe After Effects: Reviewing the Steps
  3. Part 3: How to Make Masking Easy? Try Wondershare Filmora!
  4. Conclusion
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Spice up your video content with the endless possibilities of AI masking functions!
Wondershare Filmora

Part 1: How to Utilize Track Mattes in Adobe After Effects?

After Effects by Adobe is a software application dedicated to visual effects and motion graphics for videos. The tool is commonly used in the post-production process of videos. The wide toolset of After Effects can be useful in filmmaking, video gaming, and TV. After Effects offers everything you need to take your creative inspirations to the next level.

  • Motion Graphics: After Effects lets users animate characters and backgrounds in videos. You can generate 3-dimensional models from 2D animations. After Effects also supports the animation of logos to bring your elements to life.
  • Rotoscoping: You can remove elements or drop new ones in your video using After Effects. The Roto Brush Tool can easily separate the background and foreground. You can then replace unwanted objects and replace them with new elements.
  • Motion Tracking: Tracking the movement of an object is quite simple in After Effects. You can pin any element to a moving object. The smooth dynamics can enhance the overall result of the footage.
  • VFX and Special Effects: After Effects is the perfect tool to add special effects to your videos. Its VFX tool lets users add magic to the footage. You can make objects disappear, control the weather, stabilize your video, and more.

Using Track Mattes in After Effects

In Adobe After Effects, a track matte is a layer that defines the transparency of another layer. It acts as a stencil, determining which parts of the underlying layer are visible and which are transparent. Track mattes are used for creating various effects such as text animations, transitions, and seamlessly composing multiple layers. After Effects offers four Track Matte options:

alpha track matte
  • Alpha Matte: Alpha matte in After Effects allows white areas in the matte layer to become visible while black areas become transparent. Effectively, this helps the underlying layer to show through.
  • Alpha Inverted Matte: In an alpha inverted matte, black areas in the matte layer are visible, and white areas are transparent. It reverses the transparency values to create unique effects.
  • Luma Matte: A luma matte uses the brightness values of the matte layer to determine visibility. Bright areas in the matte layer are visible, while dark areas are transparent.
  • Luma Inverted Matte: The luma inverted matte works opposite to the luma matte. The top layer’s dark areas are visible, while bright areas are transparent.
luma track matte

You can use any of the track mattes in After Effects according to your requirements. Following is a step-by-step guide on how to use track mattes:

Step 1

To apply a track matte to your video, you must work with two layers. The top layer acts as the alpha or the luminance layer. The bottom layer acts as the fill. Once you have identified the layers, you can proceed to the next step.

Step 2

Go to the "Modes" column and open the dropdown menu next to "Layer List." Here, select the layer you wish to use as the track matte.

select track matte layer
Step 3

You will see two toggle switches once you select your layer. You can use these switches and the available options to set the transparency for the Track Matte. You can add alpha matte in After Effects or other types from here.

use switches to add track matte

Part 2: Performing Mask Tracking With Adobe After Effects: Reviewing the Steps

Another remarkable feature that After Effects offers is mask tracking. Using After Effects mask tracking, you can automatically animate a mask’s position, shape, or path. This is done to match the movement of an object in a video clip. You can now easily deal with complex or fast-moving footage with this feature. To use Track Mask in After Effects, you can follow these steps:

Step 1

Import the footage you wish to edit in After Effects. Select the clip you wish to track from the timeline. Then, select the “Pen” tool from the top toolbar or press G on your keyboard. Select the area around the object you wish to mask in the footage.

use pen tool to mark boundary
Step 2

Now, open the layer and right-click on the mask name to select "Track Mask." This will open the mask tracker in the tracker panel at the right. Open the dropdown menu next to the "Method" option. Here, you can find a range of options for tracking methods. Choose the one according to your requirements. If the object isn't moving much, you can choose a simple option such as "Position."

set method for tracking
Step 3

Tap the "Analyze Forward" icon and let the tracker analyze the frames in the clip. Once the process has finished, you can restart your clip and set "Mask Mode" from the timeline to "Subtract." This will remove the selected object from the clip.

analyze and change mode
Step 4

To fill in the details, go to the "Window" menu from the top and select "Content Aware Fill." Once you see the panel on the screen, set the "Alpha Extension" slider to a number of your choice and click on "Generate Fill Layer."

use content fill properties

Part 3: How to Make Masking Easy? Try Wondershare Filmora!

Although After Effects is a great tool for professional-quality video editing, it is not everyone’s cup of tea. Features such as motion track masks in After Effects are challenging to navigate. Novice users can face trouble getting around the complex masking process in After Effects. For a simpler alternative, you can try Wondershare Filmora.

Filmora is the complete solution when it comes to video editing. The multi-platform tool offers a range of useful features for video and audio manipulation. With thousands of built-in templates and presets, Filmora can help users kick-start their creative journey. You can use this easy-to-use tool as the perfect alternative to After Effects mask tracking.

Free Download
Free Download

Main Highlights of Wondershare Filmora:

Filmora offers a comprehensive toolset to help users make the most of their media files. Some useful resources provided by Wondershare Filmora include:

  • AI Text-Based Editing: Filmora allows users to convert audio from videos into editable text. This can help you easily modify your video content. The feature can be used for quick transcriptions, subtitles, and translations.
ai text based editing filmora
  • Speed Ramping: Using Filmora, users can apply professional speed effects in footage. You can adjust your video speed and create unique cinematic effects in no time. Filmora also helps maintain the audio pitch to avoid abrupt changes.
speed ramping filmora
  • Compound Clip: Filmora can help users merge multiple clips into a single footage. You can obtain complete control over the integrated clip for editing. This can help users manage and adjust multiple clips easily.
compound clip filmora
  • AI Vocal Remover: The Vocal Remover tool of Filmora offers AI power to separate vocals and music from any audio. You can get separate acapella and vocals for various purposes. From karaoke to creative dubs, everything is now possible with Filmora.
ai vocal remover filmora

Using AI Smart Masking in Filmora – A Step-by-Step Guide

Filmora offers an AI-powered masking feature for users. This allows automatic recognition and selection of objects in videos. You can create seamless transitions, color-correct elements, remove background, and more. The tool can easily detect and separate objects, so you don't have to put in manual effort. Here is the step-by-step guide for AI smart masking using Filmora:

Step 1: Import Footage in Filmora

Install and launch Wondershare Filmora on your device. From the homepage, tap “New Project” and go to the “File” tab from the top. Tap “Import Media” in the dropdown menu and insert your video clips into the timeline.

add video to timeline

Step 2: Enable AI Mask

Select your clip in the timeline and go to the “Video” tab from the right panel. Select the "Mask" option and tap the "AI Mask" icon. Under the section, you can choose from options such as "Select Character" or "Smart Brush." Select one according to your requirements and hit "Add Mask."

apply ai masking

Step 3: Adjust Mask Settings and Export File

After you apply the masking option, you can adjust other mask settings. Filmora allows users to set the expansion range, blur strength, opacity, and other aspects. Once satisfied with the results, tap the "Export" button from the top-right corner and choose a pathway to save your video.

set masking and export
Free Download
Free Download


Adobe After Effects is an industry-standard tool for video editing and manipulation. Track Mattes and Track Masks in After Effects are valuable tools that can help elevate your video's potential. For a simple and effective alternative, you can try Wondershare Filmora. The tool uses smart masking using AI to make the process easier.

Larry Jordan
Larry Jordan Mar 27, 24
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