This guide will help you to UNDERSTAND CLEARLY the various composite modes found in today's desktop editing software such as FCP 6, 7, X, Avid, Adobe Premiere & After Effects.

Before we go any further a clarification of terminology is in order.

Compositing is the blending or merging of two video tracks to create a new image, it is this new image that has been composited from the original two separate images.

With composite effects, the layer ordering can be important.
Certain composite modes will behave differently depending on which image is on top.

When a clip uses normal (default) composite modes you can still adjust its transparency. This adjustment affects all colours and shades of light and dark equally.

Examines the colour values in every overlapping pixel and adds them together.

The finished composite will always be lighter than either of the two original clips. As a result this mode typically suits darker original images, as light images which add up to produce absolute white can impose upon the boundaries of broadcast limits.

Subtract is used to darken all overlapping colors.

Foreground whites go black, while background whites invert the overlapping colour value creating a negative effect in the foreground image.
Foreground blacks become transparent, while background blacks are preserved.
Mid-range colors are darkened or inverted depending on whether the background image is lighter or darker than the foreground.
The order in which you layer your two clips is important as you will get different results both ways.

Subtracts color values from the clip on V1 from the color values of the clip on V2. Great for capturing the 'psychedelic' look from the 60's.

This effect works well with really colourful light leak overlays.

Multiply accentuates the darkest parts of each overlapping image.

Progressively lighter parts of overlapping images become increasingly translucent, allowing whichever image is darker to show through. Absolute white is completely transparent.
Blacks in both images are preserved.

This effect works well to highlight light areas of the frame, or to make the background image only viewable in the lighter parts of foreground image (the light leak).

This is the most commonly used composite mode for light leaks. It gives best results for people chasing the classic light leak look.

Screen emphasises the lightest parts in the foreground image.
Colors in the overlapping layer become transparent as they get darker. Black is completely transparent.
Whites from both layers are retained.

This mode applies two different techniques, it does a little bit of multiply and a little bit of screen.

If the color value in foreground image is lighter than middle gray, 128 value, then screen mode is applied.
If the color value is lower than 128, multiply mode is applied.

The visible result is that darker colors in the background image intensify overlapping areas in the foreground image, while lighter colors wash out overlapping areas in foreground.
This means the composited image contains more light, more dark and more contrast.

By mixing the layer order of the clips in overlay mode will give a different look.

For more insights into the various composite modes available visit -

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