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In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.
When it comes time to do really advanced animation in After Effects, you want to go to the Graph Editor. The Graph Editor deserves a training series on lynda.com all by itself as it is extremely complex and robust. And so, my purpose in this movie is only to tell you that it exists and that is all. I have here this bouncing ball and this is using linear keyframes. We know how un-awesome those are. So, we just have very flat animation and this does not look in any way, shape or form like a realistic ball bouncing.
So, what I am going to do is I am going to select the layer and I am going to open the Graph Editor by clicking this button in the Timeline panel. Click that to open it, and then we want to select the property we want to adjust in the Graph Editor. Now there are two different types of graphs that we can look at. If we click this dropdown here, we can choose to look at the Speed Graph or the Value Graph. The Value Graph will show us the Position values. So, the X doesn't change. That's the X, the red.
So, it's not going left to right at all. The only thing that changes is the green, which represents the Y axis. So, we are seeing the bounce visually here. And again, nothing on the X axis. The Y axis is moving only. And then, if we want to adjust the velocity, the speed, we go to the Speed Graph. So, this is indicating the speed here. So, there is a constant rate of speed, because it's a linear keyframe. And then, after the bounce, there is another set rate of speed that's a little bit slower. So, this graph right here is indicating the pixels/second.
So, it's a little bit more than 200 pixels/ second here, and that's the rate of speed. And then as it declines, it goes to, looks like about 175, somewhere around there, pixels/second. So, the higher the graph goes than the faster things go. So, I am going to show how to create a good bouncing ball. A lot of this won't make sense, again, because this is very complex. And again my purpose in this movie is just to show that it exists. I am going to exit the Graph Editor by clicking this button again. I am going to go to this middle keyframe and I am going to hold the Command key on the Mac or the Ctrl key on the PC and click this once until you get a round keyframe.
This tells After Effects to make the motion smooth as it goes through the point. We actually don't want this to be smooth, but the benefit of this is that once we go back to the Graph Editor, then we have these curves to play with. Kind of like what we saw when we were dealing with Motion Paths. So, I'm going to click and drag this point upwards. Keep in mind that this graph represents speed. So, I want this ball to be going slowly at the beginning, so I could bring this down and slowly at the end.
But the spike in the middle, I want it to have a huge surge of speed. I want it to kind of go slow and then as it bounces, then I want it to have a huge a huge spike and a slow trail-off at the end. So, this is the shape that I am kind of going for and although this is not perfect and not fine-tuned. Honestly, the Graph Editor as I see it is kind of like this artistic thing where there isn't like some set of rules of how to use it. You just kind of got to go in there and fiddle with the curves until you get the animation that's right.
It's almost like how do you make a perfect sculpture. It's an artistic choice. So, this might not be perfect. But let's see if we are any closer to the ballpark of getting a realistic bouncing ball. Okay. We are closer, but we need that speed to be much more significant. So, what I'll do is select this property again, go to this middle point, and I am going to click and drag upwards a lot. Notice that it automatically resizes the graph for me. So, I don't have to use scrollbar to get to the top of this page.
It automatically changes the graph, reorients it so the highest point now fits. So, it's 2500 pixels/ second, which is really fast. But let's see how this looks. See now that's starting to look a little bit more believable like somebody dropped the ball. And you are not going to get this sense of realism from easing alone. So, you have to use the Graph Editor. Now again, it is a complex beast. It probably will be too much for you to chew on at this point in your After Effects career. But just know that that is the eventual destination.
That is where you want to end up being able to use the Graph Editor, because that is where professional animation takes place.
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