In this chapter you'll get an overview of how After Effects works, what it does, and what the main controls are.
Introducing After Effects CS6
Adobe After Effects is a motion graphics application that allows users to animate, alter, and composite media and add effects both in 2D and 3D environments. In this video we'll explore some of the history of After Effects, looking at the various iterations that have led up to the current CS6 version and discussing what has changed (and what hasn't).
There are lots of new and improved features in After Effects CS6, and in this video you'll be introduced to some of the most important. You'll get a look at the new frame caching system, the 3D Camera Tracker and Ray-traced 3D Renderer, Fast Draft mode, and more.
This video teaches you how to deal with common alerts that may pop up in the form of dialog boxes and error messages. These warnings are helpful and useful if you take time to understand them, so we'll discuss exactly what they mean and how to deal with them. You'll also learn why you sometimes can't access menu items and how to overcome these issues.
Before you start following along with the instructions in this training, it will help to learn what the controls are called and where things are located. You'll learn about the basic controls and the most commonly used panels in this chapter.
In this video, you'll learn the basic controls in the Project panel that let you manage footage items and see how the Flowchart panel can be used to get an overview of the connections between compositions and footage items.
The Composition panel provides many controls for viewing and assembling compositions, and the Layer panel provides similar controls for working with one layer at a time. In this lesson, you'll learn what each of these controls does and how to use each get the right view of your work. You'll also learn the controls for using masks, effects, and paint tools in the Layer panel.
In this video you'll learn the basic controls in the Timeline panel for managing, viewing, and modifying layers and their properties. You'll also see how to show and hide columns in the Timeline panel and enable layer and composition switches.
There are many ways to play and preview portions of your movies as you work. In this lesson, you'll learn the basic controls in the Preview panel for playing and previewing compositions, as well as the difference between RAM previews and standard (Spacebar) previews.
After Effects comes with hundreds of effects and animation presets. In this video, you'll learn how to use the Effects & Presets panel and Adobe Bridge to browse, apply, and preview effects and animation presets. You'll also see how to view and save animation presets and effects in the Effect Controls panel.
Colors are represented as red, green, and blue channels, and there's an additional channel that defines transparency - the alpha channel. In this video, you'll see how to control the way the information about these channels is displayed. You'll also learn how to pick a color in various contexts and change the color bit depth to remove banding and increase precision.
After Effects offers you lots of ways to configure the interface to suit your needs. In this video you'll see how to change the arrangement, size, and visibility of panels; choose a preset workspace; create a workspace of your own and save it with a custom name; and reset a workspace to its default state.
In After Effects we work in projects. Every project contains compositions, each of which is the framework of a movie; layers are assembled within the framework of these compositions. In this chapter you'll learn how to create compositions and bring layers into them from the Project panel. You'll also learn how to create layers from scratch.
Creating Compositions and Layers
In this lesson, you'll learn how to create a composition and set composition settings manually, or create a composition that automatically matches the settings of a footage item.
Did you know that you can create footage from absolutely nothing in After Effects? That's right, you don't need to have anything except these tutorials and a bit of creative flair. In this video you'll learn how to use the Character panel to create and format text directly in After Effects.
After Effects allows you to create vector shape layers right inside the application without having to use any other software to prepare the files. This video takes you through the basics and shows you how to use the extensive controls in the Composition panel and the Timeline panel to create organic shapes and patterns for your creations.
Sometimes you just need to create a plain old layer to apply effects to. Solids are just right for this purpose, and for lots of other uses in After Effects. This video shows you how to create solid-color layers and walks you through some of their uses.
In this chapter you'll learn how to bring various types of files into After Effects. You'll also see how to make sure After Effects interprets these files correctly and how to manage them once you get them in.
Before you can do anything with your source files, you need to get them into After Effects. In this lesson you'll learn how to import files, create a folder, and import footage items into a folder. We'll also look at using Adobe Bridge to browse, preview, and import movies. You'll learn about codecs and containers and how to determine if your movie files are supported for import by After Effects.
Most high-end visual effects work is done using image sequences rather than movie files, and most motion graphics projects require the use of still images as sources. In this video you'll learn how to import a numbered series of still images as a still-image sequence and use it as a single footage item. You'll also see how to change footage interpretation settings so that the still-image sequence has the desired frame rate and learn best practices for preparing still images before importing them.
You can import layered image files from Photoshop and Illustrator and preserve the layers for individual animation. In this lesson you'll learn how to preserve layers and how to prepare images before importing them to make animation most efficient. We'll also look at importing Photoshop files and Illustrator files as footage items, with layers merged into a single image.
Reusing elements from other After Effects projects or collaborating with other artists is easy when you import one project into another. In this video you'll learn how to import one project into another and how to only keep the parts that you need. You'll also learn how to import projects from Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro.
Sometimes you need to tell After Effects how to use source files. This chapter shows you how to set various parameters for how files are interpreted and used.
Interpreting and Managing Footage
When files are imported into After Effects, it makes informed guesses about some characteristics of those files. Sometimes it gets things wrong, though. In this video, you'll learn how to change how a single footage item is interpreted using the Interpret Footage dialog box; copy and paste footage interpretation settings from one footage item to several others; and modify the rules used for interpretation so that a particular type of footage is always interpreted as you specify.
If After Effects misinterprets field order, or if you don't tell it to separate fields, the result can look rather ugly. In this video you'll learn about fields in interlaced video and see how to separate fields before working with a footage item in a composition.
Different video devices record and play video with different pixel aspect ratios. In this lesson, you'll learn how to change the interpretation settings to assign the correct pixel aspect ratio to a footage item and change the composition settings to determine the pixel aspect ratio for a movie.
You often only need a piece of a footage item in a given composition. In this video you'll learn how to trim footage items so that layers based on them contain only specified frames, and how to trim, extend, and slip-edit layers in a composition.
The most important aspect of learning to fully understand After Effects is getting to grips with how After Effects handles animation. Once you have mastered the topics covered in this chapter, you can really do anything in this powerful application.
Many of the terms used in After Effects come from traditional animation. This lesson will explain terms like "keyframe" and "tweening" and how they relate to the work you do in After Effects. You'll also learn about the five basic properties of every layer in After Effects and how to animate them.
The paths your layers travel on are determined by Bézier-style curves that you may be familiar with from Photoshop or Illustrator. In this lesson you'll learn how you can change the shape of these paths, move them, and even copy and paste them to other layers. You'll also see how easy it is to select and move keyframes in the Composition panel.
The Motion Sketch panel is every animator's best friend. In this video you'll become familiar with it and learn about possible pitfalls before they happen. You'll also see how you can use the Smoother to smooth out complicated motion paths created by Motion Sketch.
This chapter will take your animation skills further by showing you how to understand timing. You'll learn how to work in the Layer panel and the Graph Editor for more precise control over layers and animation.
In this lesson you'll see how to avoid the gotchas involved with panning and zooming, learning how to animate properties and control motion paths using the Layer panel to control a layer's anchor point property.
There are several different keyframe types in After Effects and it's important to be aware of them. In this lesson you'll learn the difference between spatial and temporal animation and find out about the various flavors of keyframe that exist within each of these.
Keyframe assistants are there to do the boring, repetitive stuff that you don't want to get your hands dirty with: easing motion, reversing animations and keyframes, or creating exponentially scaled zooms. You'll learn about the most useful keyframe assistants in this video.
The Graph Editor may seem intimidating but really it's a designer's best friend, allowing you to get a visual understanding of motion. In this video you'll learn about the different keyframe types available in After Effects and see how you can use the Graph Editor to create some cool animation tricks that would otherwise be difficult to achieve.
Text layers can be animated in a variety of different ways to create exciting and compelling motion graphics. In this chapter you'll learn about the properties and methods used to control these layers. Text layer properties use a slightly different animation system than standard layer properties, so we'll also discuss the idiosyncrasies involved in animating these wonderfully flexible design elements.
Animating Text Layers
It's easy to import text from other Adobe applications into After Effects and animate it. This video takes things a step further by showing you how to convert Photoshop text layers into fully editable text in After Effects. You'll get some tips and tricks to help you figure this feature out and really make the most of it.
Text animators offer a powerful and unique method for character animation in After Effects. In this tutorial you'll learn how you can create complex per-character animation with just a couple of keyframes.
After Effects ships with lots of free animation presets. In this video you'll learn how to add extra properties to the free animation presets in order to customize them to better suit your needs. Once you've modified and created your own text animations, you can build up a library of them by saving them as text animation presets.
In this video you'll see how text can be converted to shape layers in order to take advantage of their cleverly addictive shape operator properties. Once you see what can be done with these you'll be converting yours too!
Compositing is about stacking layers on top of one another and making parts of each layer show through others in specific ways. You'll learn about many of the ways to composite layers together in this chapter.
You can combine color and transparency information between a layer and the composite of layers beneath it using blending modes. In this video you'll learn how easy it is to experiment creatively with blending modes, including blending copies of a layer.
There are many ways to make all or part of a layer transparent and get one layer to show through another. In this video you'll learn about color channels and the invisible fourth channel that holds transparency information, the alpha channel.
Masks are a crucial part of almost any compositing workflow. In this lesson you'll learn how to draw a rough mask using the Ellipse tool, use mask feathering to create a vignette, and use a mask as a path for an effect.
When someone has had the foresight to film a subject in front of a solid-color background, compositing work gets a lot easier. This video shows you how to use the Keylight effect to key out (make transparent) a solid-color background and use a garbage matte to isolate the area to be keyed.
Rotoscoping and motion tracking go very well together. In this lesson you'll learn how to apply motion tracking data to an adjustment layer and use rotoscoping on that adjustment layer to selectively perform color correction on a moving object. We'll also look at using the free-transform feature to modify an animated mask.
The new 3D Camera Tracker really is unbelievably easy to use and is helpful in many situations. In this video you'll see how it can be dragged onto a clip to automatically read the movement and angles of the camera used to shoot some aerial footage. We'll then use the tracking data to place some 3D text within the shot, making it appear as though it really exists within the scene.
After Effects provides you with scores of effects that you can apply to your layers, allowing you to create virtually any look or style you like. Imagine being able to animate all of these over time and you get a real sense of the creative flexibility that After Effects can offer you. This chapter tells you everything you need to know to create amazing effects.
To really get the most from effects you need to understand exactly how they are presented to you and how to take advantage of all the properties they offer. This video will delve into effects and you how they work.
In this video we'll focus on animating the Fractal Noise effect to create an animated background. You'll also learn how to combine it with other effects and animate their properties to get lots of interesting and creative results.
A compound effect is an effect that refers to, or takes values from, another layer in your comp. In this video we'll look at how this works by examining the Lens Blur effect, which can be used to create a pull focus effect on your layers. You'll see how to apply it selectively to specific areas of your footage using a Luminance Map we create using the Ramp effect.
In this lesson we'll look at what are referred to as "fixer" effects: effects that are specifically designed to fix common issues. We'll use the Rolling Shutter Repair effect to remove flicker from video footage, use the Refine Matte effect to help smooth the edges of keyed footage, and discuss how to use other effects such as Warp Stabilizer, Remove Grain, and Timewarp to fix timing issues such as dropped frames.
Layer styles are not really effects as such but behave in some similar ways. In this video you'll find out what the similarities and differences are. You'll also learn when to use one rather than the other.
Adjustment layers allow you to add effects to multiple layers without using multiple copies of the effects. This not only saves on rendering time but also offers some creative inspiration to users. In this movie you'll learn how to import adjustment layers from Photoshop or create them in After Effects to apply effects and to selectively apply effects using masks.
A movie is a series of images that plays over time, and After Effects provides many powerful controls for controlling exactly how this happens. This chapter will teach you about tools like frame blending, slow motion, freeze-frame, and more.
In this video you'll learn about frame rates for footage items, compositions, and rendered movies, and how to modify each kind of frame rate to achieve the desired result.
There are times when it makes sense to group layers together into a single item, either to simplify complicated comps or to make editing, moving, or applying effects a whole lot easier. In this chapter we'll look at several methods for grouping layers together.
Grouping and Linking
This video looks at nesting, which is the process of dragging one composition into another so it is treated as a single layer. It's important to understand nesting in order to achieve an effective and efficient After Effects workflow.
Nesting relies on thinking ahead, but there are always times when your planning isn't quite what it should be. In these situations After Effects allows you to "pre-compose," which is, in effect, nesting backwards. Simply select the files you want to group and let After Effects pre-compose them into a separate composition, as shown in this video.
Parenting allows you to create hierarchical linking between layers. It can be used to simply link layers together or to create quite complex inverse-kinematic-style animation. This movie will explain the basics of parenting and show you how to use parenting to create quirky character animation.
Nulls are invisible layers that can be used in conjunction with parenting to control layers in your compositions. This video will show you situations where they can be useful, including transforming multiple layers with a single control layer and using nulls to automatically control orbital animations with cameras.
After Effects allows you to transform and animate your layers within a 3D environment. This adds some complexity to your compositions. After Effects CS6 also lets you work in ray-traced 3D, where you can extrude and bevel shapes and text and even bend video layers. In this chapter you'll see how After Effects deals with mixing 2D and 3D in the same composition.
Introduction to 3D
This video gives you an overview of the tools available to help you get the most from After Effects 3D environment. You'll learn how you can manipulate your layers, cameras, and lights in 3D space. You'll also be taught how to avoid certain gotchas that can occur when working with 3D layers and cameras.
After Effects CS6 allows you to bend solids, video layers, and nested compositions. This allows you to create curved video backdrops for your 3D scenes. In this lesson you'll learn how to switch to Ray-Traced 3D mode to enable this feature and create a video wall for our music video.
Ray-traced 3D rendering allows you to extrude and bevel certain layers in After Effects CS6. In this movie you'll learn how to do this and also how to add lights to emphasize the depth of extruded shapes.
Animating cameras can be tricky, as you have to think about both position and point of interest properties. In this video you'll be shown how to understand these and more easily control the animation of cameras and lights.
You have a number of extra options when auto-orienting layers, cameras, and lights in 3D space. In this video you'll see how a 3D layer's material options can help to create a sense of depth and realism.
A depth of field effect can show some parts of the image slightly out of focus, mimicking the way a real camera works. In this video you'll see how to adjust your camera settings and use the Region of Interest button to create a depth of field effect.
An environment layer is a background layer that covers the entire image and creates reflections on your text or other 3D objects. You'll learn how to create, modify, and render an environment layer in this lesson.
Every person, project, and computer system is different. In this chapter you'll learn how to configure After Effects to match your needs, the capabilities of your computer system, and the needs of your projects.
Memory and Performance
After Effects CS6 is a 64-bit application that can take full advantage of large amounts of RAM and multiple processors (CPUs), but setting the appropriate preferences is crucial. In this lesson you'll learn how to configure After Effects to use RAM and CPUs as appropriate for your computer system, your footage, and your project needs. You'll also see what hardware factors affect performance and what improvements can be made to increase performance.
In this video you'll see how the RAM and disk caches are used to save time, and how you can render compositions in the background so that you don't need to wait for a preview to be rendered before you can resume work.
Layers and their components are processed in a specific order. In this chapter you'll learn about that order and how to use special features to control it.
Render Order and Collapsing Transformations
When you know the default order of operations, troubleshooting problems gets much easier, because you can determine what features to use to modify the order. In this video you'll learn about the order in which operations are performed in After Effects and how to apply a transformation within an effect to work around the default rendering order.
You can collapse transformations to prevent a layer from becoming pixelated when scaled up in a nested composition and scaled down in the containing composition. In this lesson you'll learn about the changes in render order that occur when transformations are collapsed.
When you're finished with your project, you need to get your data out of After Effects, usually as a finished movie. In this chapter, you'll learn the basics of rendering and exporting movies.
You can create output in several formats simultaneously using the render queue. This video shows you how to set render settings and output module settings to suit various requirements, from lossless encoding for intermediate files to highly compressed encoding for delivery and playback on the Web.
You can use the built-in Adobe Media Encoder to render and export many kinds of files within After Effects, or use the standalone Adobe Media Encoder application to render and encode movies outside of After Effects. Batch encoding and using a watch folder in Adobe Media Encoder can save time and free After Effects for other tasks, as you'll see in this video.
In this lesson, you'll learn how to avoid situations where your projects lose the link to your source files. This is accomplished with the Collect Files command, which gathers all the files associated with your composition for easy archiving or sharing.
This chapter contains some examples of animations created in After Effects along with explanations of how they were made. You'll also get some tips on integrating After Effects with Cinema 4D, as well as some final thoughts on the course and suggestions for further learning.
Project Explorations and Recap
This video looks at integration between Cinema 4D and After Effects, and how to get files from Cinema 4D to After Effects and vice versa. You'll also learn how to set up your Cinema 4D files for output.
In this lesson you'll learn how to bring a rendered Cinema 4D file into After Effects and see what the imported file looks like. You'll also get tips on animating and fine-tuning the resulting composition in After Effects.
You can achieve some great results in After Effects by applying a simple effect and stacking duplicate layers on top of one another. In this lesson you'll get an example of the power of this easy technique.
In this concluding video, you'll get some thoughts about where you might want to go from here. You'll also learn where to find help and how to use the After Effects forum, as well as how to submit a feature request or a bug report.