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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.
Color Finesse is an advanced color correction software package that just happens to be included as a part of After Effects, created by a company named Synthetic Aperture. It comes as part of After Effects as a plug-in, and you need to make sure to input its separate registration information in order to make sure it's active. Now if you want to learn more about the general principles behind professional color correction, you want to make sure to check out some of Robbie Carman's training titles for Apple Color in the lynda.com library. But in this video I am going to give you a general overview of Color Finesse and how it pertains to motion graphics.
So to get started, let's apply the Color Finesse filter. Just make sure we have the Falls_CU layer selected. I'll go up under Effect, and there is a category for Synthetic Aperture. Choose Color Finesse 3. Let me go ahead and make that a little bit larger here, so we can see it. By default, you'll get this small menu up at the top, and one of the first things I usually always do is just click Full Interface, and we'll get to that in a second. I just want to show you some of the simple interface controls first.
So if I go ahead and stretch this window out here, you might recognize this, especially if you've ever done some color correction in Final Cut or Premiere or something like that. It's basically color correction for the different sections of exposure in your image. So, for example, the Master section, if I go ahead and click this little black dot in the center, I can click and drag out to a specific area if I want to change the overall hue and saturation of the image. Now, I don't want to do that, so I'll just undo.
But notice, in addition to the Master, I could control the settings specifically for the shadows. So let's go and cool this shot down a little bit. I'll bring the Shadows little bit over into his blue area and the Midtones, let's bring it slightly more over to the green, just so we can sort of pop the plants here in the scene. And then the Highlights, typically I'd like to leave them in the white, but just to give it a little bit of a cooler feel, we'll go ahead and tint this a little blue there. Now, I'm getting some interesting effects with the plants popping out of the scene, but I think you get the general idea with a simplified interface.
It starts with the Hue Offset and then there are some extra commands here for Curves. I must say I usually don't do my curve adjustments in this simplified interface. Don't worry; I'll show you more about curves when we open up the full interface. So let's do that. Go up to the top and click on Full Interface, and it should take a second, but once it opens up here, you'll notice now I have a completely different piece of software open. And it's really interesting because I can see my video footage, and if I go ahead and press Play here, it'll step through the footage and then attempt to play it back.
But I can sort of see how the footage is going to look when I do my color corrections. Let's go ahead and stop playback here, and let's look at the rest of the interface. By default, you notice the first thing that's selected here is this Hue Saturation Levels, and that's because I made adjustments in the simple interface, and those adjustments actually got carried through here to our Full Interface. I'll just hide the Hue Offset by clicking on control for one second, and let's look up here at the top.
There are called vectorscopes, and it's a software representation of an actual piece of hardware that analyzes the video footage. So if we look at this scene right here, we're looking at the overall brightness of our video signal. So this line down here at the bottom just above the zero is actually the black level for this individual shot. So as we make changes to the color and the brightness within the scene, we'll actually see the vectorscopes update up here. I want you to pay specific attention to this section of the vectorscopes.
Down here we have the overall luminance of all three channels, but we also have each channel broken out. So as you can see, the blue channel, I've actually got very little information over here on the left-hand side, and basically what that means is I have tinted all the dark areas blue, and when I did that I actually got rid of some of the black levels within the blue channel itself. So I only make note of that because sometimes when you make adjustments in curves you want to make sure that all these specific areas even out.
Now since I'm trying to create a stylized look, I am just going to leave it the way it is. As we're making adjustments in Color Finesse, I want you to switch down here to Split Source, and what this does is it splits the image so I can click on these little control bands up here at the top or at the bottom, the these little control handles, and I can split the image to see, here on the left side is my original image and on the right side is after my color corrections. So let's change our vectorscopes up here in the left corner.
I want you to go to histograms, and now down here in the bottom, this is where we can make our control adjustments, but I want to adjust to the curves. So let's click on the Curves section. Over here on the left, I can adjust the overall luminance for the Master, the Red, Green, or Blue channels. So what I want to do is actually even out this blue hue here a little bit, and the way I can do that is by clicking over here in the left corner. And as I drag to the right, notice I am bringing those blue levels back to the left there.
And yes, it's getting rid of that color tint, but as you can see, it's helping redefine the image here a little bit. I still have my general colorcast change--notice how pinkish that left side is--but I did go back and bring the blue levels down just a little bit. All this is well and good, but if you really want to learn the nuts and bolts of color correction, like I said, go ahead and check out some of the other color correction titles in the lynda.com library. But one of the things I want to show you before we jump out of Color Finesse is something that I think are really cool, and it's up here under the Gallery, in the upper left-hand area.
If we click under Gallery, you'll notice I have these system settings and user presets. And if we open those folders, here we go, the Setting Presets, I want you to look at 35mm Filmstocks. Now, what we can do is actually choose a specific type of film stock to apply to this image. If you are kind of an old-school person and you miss the days of film, you can go ahead and recreate that here digitally using Color Finesse.
As you can see, there are all kinds of film stocks that you can load, and there are all kinds of other effects like different gels, et cetera. So first off let's change the film stock to one of the Kodak settings. I'm just clicking through and looking at this little preview up here in the left corner to actually see what it's doing to my image. So let's do this Eastman 5248. To apply all you do is just double- click, and now you notice I've got my color back to the way it was originally, but as you can see, I've got a lot more definition in the rocky areas of the image.
So one last thing to note: if you do go in and want to create a specific film stock, I suggest doing that before you apply your color corrections. That way you can get the definition of the specific film stock but then go back and make your adjustments to the tonal curves and change the overall hue or saturation of the specific file. So whenever you're done manipulating Color Finesse, go ahead and click OK. And when you click OK, all the settings will go ahead and load back up into your Effects palette on the left- hand side of After Effects.
So while Color Finesse might seem a little daunting the first time you launch the full interface, don't be intimidated. It doesn't take very long to get used to the interface, and by that time I'm sure you'll be looking for those problem shots, just so you'll have another reason to play around inside of Color Finesse.
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