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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.
For most After Effects workflows, blur comes in real handy. And I am going to show you a few different blurs that you can apply here. You might think it's just kind of like a simple softening of the edges, which can come in handy. I will show you how do that. But there are variety of ways to do that here. One the way that we apply blur in After Effects, one of the most intelligent ways is actually not an effect. It's kind of built into the program. I have this knight animation here, this hacking knight, but this looks very cartoony because he's moving very fast, and it's not blurring. And we are so used to the way film cameras work that we see a movie or something, and there's fast action.
Our eye just kind of expects it to be blurry. This is kind of like a problem for a film cameras. It's like a deficiency, but that's just the way it's been and that we've adapted to. So, when we see a fast action like this, it looks very robotic when there's no blur. So, what we can do is we can turn on Motion Blur. The way to do this is to make sure we are looking at the Switches. Again, if you are not seeing that, you can either right-click and go to Columns > Switches. You could right-click on this bar right here. You could click Toggle Switches/ modes. This is the modes area.
This is the Switches area. And then we want to come over here at the top a Timeline panel and click this Motion Blur icon, and that looks like this: a little circle with a bunch of little circles that's fading out behind it. You'll see that same icon here in the layer. So, what we need do is click and drag down, or you can manually just click the Switches for every layer there. And what that's doing is turning it on for the layer, whereas this button here turns it on and off for the entire composition. So, now with Motion Blur enabled both for every layer and for the composition, you can preview this with Motion Blur.
And you could see, even as it's paused, the difference here. It automatically blurs the sword and the moving objects based on how fast they're moving. Now the sword is at the end of the fulcrum. It's moving the fastest, so it has the most blur applied to it. The upper arm here is moving the least. Actually, the shoulder is moving the least, but it didn't have too much blur at all applied to it. And as we go up the arm, we have less and less blur applied because there is less and less movement. We don't even have to think about it. We don't have to animate anything.
We don't have to plan for anything. It automatically blurs it based on how fast it's moving. And as you can see, as it's moving, it's very blurry. You don't see it. You don't necessarily feel like hey! It's all blurred out. But because After Effects' treatment of that is so organic, we just sense it. We feel it. So, again, here is with the blur; it just feels like its moving fast; it feels realistic. And then here is without the Motion Blur; it's just too crisp. We can see the sword the entire time, every frame.
It's just too much. So, soften that out with the Motion Blur. It's great when you're manually animating thing, and then you want characters to be moving around or whatever enabling Motion Blur. Again, it does slow things down when you are rendering a lot. So, it's good to enable it for the layers that you want to enable it for, and then until it's time to render, just leave it off for the composition, and then you turn it on the whole composition again when you are ready to render. Let's go over to the Stars composition here. I have what's called the particle systems, which we'll be talking about later. But it's basically spitting out all of these little flowered things.
This looks terrible, but we can make it look really kind of cool with blur. And that's the real secret, to me, of After Effects, is that there's so much power here. There are so many creative tools here. You could take something that really wasn't meant for a given purpose and kind of re-purpose it because After Effects is so awesome. So, I'll go to Blur & Sharpen, the basic blur effect in After Effects is Fast Blur. So, I am just going to go ahead and drag and drop and apply Fast Blur to these stars. Fast Blur is very simple. There is just a Blurriness slider, so we can click and drag on Blurriness and increase that.
If we preview this, we have these kind of, I don't know, this faint little background or something like that. You can't really tell what it is because of the blur, but the movement is cool. So, we have something interesting. I don't know, an organic background maybe we're looking at glistening water of the waterfall or something. Maybe we can even had the Glow effect to this and sees how it brings these little particles to life. I am just going to delete Fast Blur. Fast Blur does render very quickly though, so it's a great effect to use. Directional Blur is another one that's very interesting. It causes blur in a given direction.
So, I am increasing the blur length a lot, and you could see that we have, by default, the blur is vertical. So, we create these kind of like wispy vertical little edges here, and so as things spit out, we have, again, an entirely different background. And no one would look at this and say oh! This probably came from a cheesy animation of flowers. So, again, with After Effects, it's not about what things look at face value. It's about what you can turn them into. Now in Directional Blur, there, obviously, is a direction.
So, we can change the angle here, and we can maybe move that to the right a little bit so it's diagonal. We can make it horizontal if we wanted to. So, there is a lot of choices and options in our blurs. One other blur that I think is kind of fun to play with is a Cycore effect called CC Radial Fast Blur. So, I am going to double- click to apply that to this layer. What that does is it kind of makes this look, like it's kind of zooming out at you like the blur is coming towards you. I'll increase the Amount value, and we can see that. So, that's kind of fun. Now there is a different way. If you go down to the Zoom dropdown, we can do Brightest, which causes these to overlap and causes them to be bright so you could see every piece, and we can also do the inverse to that where we choose Darkest where they appear to kind of disappear and vanish.
As we take down the blur Amount, we actually see more of them here, but still kind of interesting effect, no matter which one we choose. You know, obviously, there are loads more of blur effects, but these are the ones that I tend to use the most.
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