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After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics with Ian Robinson covers some of the core principles used to create motion graphics, breaking them down into smaller groups of applied techniques in After Effects. The course explores everything from gathering inspiration to integrating traditional typography, transitional elements, animated textures, color, and more into motion graphics. Instructions for building a toolkit with templates and a style guide for future projects are also included. Exercise files accompany the course.
Have you ever looked at a fine piece of art and thought, wow, that looks great, only to realize that you never looked that closely and one day saw a whole other level of detail? Well, I feel like that just about every time I look at an M.C. Escher piece. That's not to say that the Card Wipe effect is M.C. Escher, but really, if you take the time to look closely at the effect, you can uncover a whole new level of cool. So let's look at our transition and our comp. Go ahead and select layer 1, the FallsSunrise layer, and open the Effects Control panel.
Let's go ahead and press the U key as well to open up any keyframes that might be applied to this layer. Now if we scrub our playhead, you can see we have a rather okay Card Wipe transition. It's just sort of flipping the cards from one scene to the next, and that's fine, but really we want to create something a lot more dynamic. So what we're going to do is add a graphic that will get revealed in the background, and we're going to move all these boxes around to get out of our way and in the process actually fly things around in three-dimensional space.
So while that may seem like a lot, it's really not that bad. So let's get started by adding our graphic into the scene. If we go back up to our Project panel, notice I've also imported the PaintStrokes composition that we made in the texturing chapter. So if we drag and drop the composition right down into the Timeline, you notice now as we scrub through the Card Wipe, as the cards flip around it's going to reveal our background graphic. So really all we need to do is create a camera move for these cards, so they fly around in Z space and reveal our graphic.
Now in order to do that, if we go to the Effects Control with our Card Wipe layer selected, we can go down to Camera Position. Now as we look at the Camera Position, there is a parameter for Z Position, and if you click and drag on the Z Position, notice you can rescale the layer--or the placement of the layer, I should say--in Z space and that's great. But really, what we want to do is create something slightly more dynamic. Now I could sit here and keyframe each one of these individual parameters for this Camera Position within the Card Wipe effect, but you know what happens if you build a graphic that already has a camera in the Timeline? Well, let's check it out.
If you go up under Layer and choose New > Camera to add a camera into our scene, let's choose the 50mm preset and press OK. Now notice, now notice when we add the camera into the scene that the Falls layer that contains this effect is not a three-dimensional layer, but it will actually react to the camera as long as you go to the Camera System area in the Effects Controls for Card Wipe, click on the pulldown, and choose Comp Camera. Now the layer is automatically going to choose the Comp Camera. Now if we animate our Comp Camera on its position or even rotation, the layer with a Card Wipe effect will rotate around in three-dimensional space.
So it's really kind of nice; the Card Wipe effect actually will support three dimensions through the Comp Camera Settings for the Camera System. So let's work on actually creating a slightly more dynamic transition. I'm just going to undo our latest camera move here, and we'll reselect the FallsSunrise layer and make sure the Card Wipe Transition is visible in our Timeline. Now again, making sure the Camera System is set to Comp Camera, let's go ahead and keyframe our comp camera to move around according to the timing of our Card Wipe transition.
So first thing, since our playhead is right in the middle of the transition, let's go ahead and zoom the camera into the scene, so we can get these cards right up past the camera. I'll just go ahead and click and drag, and notice I can fly right past the camera. I know we can still see the cards here, but we're going to use some other parameters to get them out of the way. So let's go ahead and click on the Position keyframe, and now move our playhead back to the beginning of the Card Wipe transition. I'll just press K to move in the Timeline to our first keyframe on layer 2, and now let's click and drag and move our camera way back out in the scene until we can actually see the entire layer again.
I'm just going to zoom out on the canvas, just so I can see exactly how far I can move that. Okay, so there we go. Now if we look at our animation, the layer is shooting out and it just sort of sits there. So we want to add another keyframe that matches the first keyframe at our resolution point. Now since the first keyframe is already selected with the yellow color we can just go ahead and Command+C and Command+ V, and we'll go ahead and paste on the layer. So now we can move in and move out using our comp camera.
Now this looks relatively cool, but what we really want to do is have all these layers fan out in a bunch of random directions. So do that, just go ahead and select the FallsSunrise layer, go into your Card Wipe Effect settings, and let's go down to the Jitter Settings. If you go to Position Jitter, notice the Jitter Amount, by default, is already set at zero. So let's keyframe the amount of jitter that we can have in the scene. First and foremost, let's set our keyframe right here in the middle of our transition, making sure that we don't have any layers in the camera view.
So if we up the amount of X Jitter, notice once I get to a certain point, I start to see more individual cubes. So that's looking pretty good at right around 1.8. Let's adjust the Y Jitter as well, and sure enough, we're all set. So let's add a keyframe to the Y and to the X, and just to add a little bit more randomness to our animation, I do want to see what it would look like if we cranked up the Z. And as you can tell, it's not making that much of a difference, as far as the position of the elements, so we'll set that right around 1.9. Perfect.
Now we can press J to move back to our previous keyframe in the Timeline here, and you notice our layers are all strewn all over the place. That's because the Jitter Amount is set above zero. So to have this and have the space properly, let's go ahead and change the Jitter Amount back to zero throughout the rest of these options. So now we'll have all the tiles break up and come out and come back together, but obviously we need to copy and paste keyframes again.
So let's open up the Sunrise layer that contains our Card Wipe transition by pressing U, and now we can see all the other keyframes that we've added. So to automatically apply the first keyframes to the second area, let's go ahead and draw a lasso around the first keyframes, copy, and paste. Okay, so here we go. Now we've got our crazy effect going through the scene, and we could continue to build on this by adjusting the rotation or adjusting the material settings or better yet, you can even adjust the lighting. And yes, there are options if you have comp lights, but I think you get the overall idea as to how to build a more dynamic transition by using the Card Wipe effect.
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