How to Fade to Black in After Effects

Updated on: September 23, 2022

One of the classic transitions when working with video editing is fading to black before and after changing scenes. This effect is practical when you want to disguise a cut in a smooth way and can be used both between frames and at the beginning and end of your videos to generate some atmosphere of immersion. 

Although it is possible to generate this transition in other Adobe products such as Premiere, you can also fade to black in After Effects. However, before following the steps, remember adding this type of transition in the final phase of your project is easier than creating it while editing a composition.

Defining the final length of your project

Assuming you've already added the effects you wanted to add to your video and have several layers of different lengths in your Timeline, set the duration of your project and get rid of the rest this way before fading to black: 

  1. Place your Time Indicator at the exact second of the Timeline where you want your video to end.
  2. Select all layers of the project by clicking on the first one, tapping Shift, and then selecting the last one to save time.
  3. Press Ctrl + Shift + D or Cmd + Shift + D if you are working on Mac, to activate the cut function at the end of your video and leave out everything else.
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  1. Click Backspace on your keyboard to get rid of the rest of the material you won't use.

Fading to black in After Effects

Now that you have set the final length of your project, let's suppose you want to use a couple of fades to generate transitions at both the opening and closing of your video so those frames appear and disappear smoothly. To fade in and out in After Effects: 

  1. Go to the end of all layers and press Cmd + Y to open the Solid Settings window.
  2. Click on the color box in the same window, select black, and hit Ok.
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  1. Place over the new layer and move the Time Indicator to the second you want the opening transition to end. It can be the first 3 seconds.
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  1. Once you have set how many seconds the Black Solid layer will last with the Time Indicator, cut it by pressing Cmd + Shift + D.
  2. Select all the layers above the Black Solid layer and move them in the Timeline to the second at which your first transition would end.
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  1. Take the three-second fragment you cut from the Black Solid layer and place it at the top of the layer list. 
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  1. Move the Time Indicator to the second at which your video officially starts, hit T on your keyboard to activate the Opacity property and click the stopwatch next to this option and change its value to 100%.
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  1. Place the Time Indicator again two or three seconds after the layers start your video and click the stopwatch again. This time change its value to 0 % to generate the fade-in.
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To create the fade-out effect, select all layers and hit T on your keyboard again. Then, with all layers selected, move the Time Indicator to the second where you want to start your closing transition, and click on the stopwatch of the Opacity option to enter a keyframe. Make sure that the value is 100%.

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Once you have done that:

  1. Move the Time Indicator again to the end point of your video.
  2. Hit the Stopwatch once more, but change the value this time to 0 %. 
  3. Click and hold to select all keyframes and press F9, and hit the space bar to see the final result.
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In After Effects you can create more cool transitions for your videos. Fade to black is just one of them. In any case, we recommend you generate this kind of effect once your project is ready. This way you'll avoid getting confused between countless settings in your project.

Andrea Mercado is a tech-focused journalist and copywriter with over 5 years of experience covering innovation, edtech, AI, and internet trends across media outlets. She is passionate about how technology can democratize access to education and is an avid learner when it comes to emerging tech like AI. Her articles and webinars help readers stay informed on the latest tech developments.
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