I don't follow. you can split layers at any time using the respective menu entry or hitting Ctrl+Shift+D. Of course this means duplicating mattes and other layers as well on occasion. Can't always have cool effects with just one layer, just the opposite. even seemingly simple things can consist of a bazillion layers. Of course you can simplify by pre-composing or using effects liek Set Matte to "remote" mattes, but there are obviously limits and otehr side effects in terms of keeping a managable project structure...
The questions you are asking and the way in which you are asking them demonstrates a lack of basic knowledge of After Effects. Attempting visual effects without a basic knowledge will lead to frustration and typing in all caps.
I would highly suggest you go here. And go through ALL of the available resources. This will take some time, but you MUST do it or you will continue to pull out your hair and cry yourself to sleep.
In the meantime, how are you doing this obscuring?
If you just have a duplicate of your footage on top, you can use masks to cover up the lightsabers with a copy of the original footage. You can keyframe the positions of the masks and when you don't need it for a few seconds, keyframe it out of the composition window.
What I'm doing is creating a new solid, making it comp size, and then
outlining the object (my body) that I want to be OVER the lightsaber with
the pen tool. then I keyframe the mask shape and go frame by frame and
reshape it. Also, I make the lightsabers trackmatte "alpha inverted" But I
don't know how to make the layer go away for a portion of the film, and then
come back, other than just making the shape outside of the film, but that
doesn't seem like a very good way to do it. Thanks for replying, and any
other help is great.
Basically there are 2 bodies in the video that obscure the lightsaber at one time or another. What I would LIKE to do is have one layer be for one body, and another one for the other body, but if the lightsaber is say, #3 on the layer list, it WON'T be obscured by #1, only the one DIRECTLY above it, which would be #2, so that's why I'm thinking I can only use 1 layer to obscure it for the entire video
O wait I think I have it! I'll split the lightsaber layer into 2 separate ones and end 1 right when the other one starts. then I'll make another obscuring layer for the next part, put it at the very top, and then put lightsaber layer 2 RIGHT underneath it.
Thanks for taking time to help me.