Here are 5 unique ways to use the screen transfer mode in After Effects, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro.

One of the best transfer modes to utilize in After Effects, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro is the screen transfer mode. Screen essentially leaves light elements while removing dark elements based on their opacity. For example, a layer that is 50% grey will be 50% opaque.

In the following post we’ll take a look at five ways to use the screen transfer mode to produce awesome results. Let’s dive in!

1. Compositing Weather Elements

One of the best ways to use the screen transfer mode is to composite weather elements like rain, snow, and fog into your scene. Simply place your video plate over your footage and set the transfer mode to screen. You may want to adjust color values or opacity as needed.

Step 1: Get a background plate.

Screen Transfer Mode: Snow Scene Pre-Effect

Step 2: Put the weather element on top.

Screen Transfer Mode: Snow Element

Step 3: Set the transfer mode of the weather element to screen and adjust color and opacity as needed.

Screen Transfer Mode: Snow and Finished Element

2. Light Leaks

If you make a lot of hipster-inspired videos, then you’re probably very familiar with light leaks. Typically when you are trying to composite lighting elements you have two options: the screen transfer mode or the add transfer mode. I prefer screen because it’s a bit more subtle, but it just depends on the shot. On the other hand, when I am compositing lens flares I almost always use the add transfer mode.

Step 1: Get your background plate.

Screen Transfer Mode: Light Leaks Pre Effect

Step 2: Set your light elements on top.

Screen Transfer Mode: Light Leak Element

Step 2: Set the transfer modes of the light elements to screen or add as needed.

Light Leaks Using Screen Transfer Mode

3. Watermarks

If you have a white logo on a black background, you can quickly composite it into your scene using the screen transfer mode. In the example below, we simply took a black RocketStock logo and composited it over the image of a mountain. This is great if you are sending clients rough cuts and don’t want your video to be stolen. I’ve found that dropping the opacity value down to 50% makes for perfect watermarks.

Step 1: Get Background Plate.

Screen Transfer Mode Watermark Pre Effect copy

Step 2: Put Logo Element on Top.

Screen Transfer Mode: Rocketstock Logo

Step 3: Set Transfer Mode to Screen and adjust opacity as needed.

Screen Transfer Mode: Watermark Screen Mode Example

4. Screen Reflections

My favorite way to use the screen transfer mode is to simulate screen reflections. Simply composite your fake screen into your shot and set the background plate to screen on top of the fake monitor only. This method typically always works well, as areas on a digital screen that are covered in shadow tend to be easily readable, whereas areas with screen reflection are typically obscured by the reflection. In the example below, I had to turn down the opacity of the screen plate because it was way too bright on its own.

Step 1: Find a good background plate. Fingers and obstructions make compositing very difficult. If you can, have the screen be solid green on set so you can easily key it out in post.

Screen Transfer Mode: Screen Replacement Pre-Effect

Step 2: Composite your simulated screen onto the device. Rotoscope fingers and other elements out. You also will want to match the screen color values using levels and curves.

Screen Transfer Mode: Screen Replacment no Transfer Mode

Step 3: Set a background plate on top and set the transfer mode to screen.  In this example I had to drop the screen opacity down to about 50% to make the screen more visible.

Screen Replacment with Screen Transfer Mode

5. Keying Out Black Quickly

If you simply need to key out some black footage fast, the screen transfer mode is a great way to go. Simply put your element over your background and set it to screen. Pixels that are grey will be set to 50% opacity and pixels that are white will be 100% visible.

Step 1: Find a good background plate.

Screen Transfer Mode: Design Element Pre Arrow

Step 2: Place your element on top.

Screen Transfer Mode: Arrows

Step 3: Set the transfer mode to screen.

Screen Transfer Mode: Design Element with Arrow

Want to learn more about using transfer modes in After Effects? Check out a few of the following posts:

  1. 6 Useful Blending Modes in After Effects – PremiumBeat
  2. Blending Modes and Layer Styles Adobe
  3. Photoshop Blend Modes ExplainedPhoto Blog Shop

How do you use the screen transfer mode? Share your thoughts in the comments below.