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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.
Here is a great feature for those of you that work in motion graphics or titling: the ability to align and distribute layers. I have here a series of diamonds on this cool little weird background. And basically we have the pink, green, teal, and purple diamonds. Now, after I applied some color adjustments to these, these colors don't exactly match the names of the layers, but it doesn't really affect our purposes here. Now I am going to go to the Window menu and open up the Align panel and that's where we are going to be doing all of our work here. I am just going to restructure these panels, so we could see this a little bit better.
Now if you only have one layer selected, I will go ahead and select this layer, layer 1, the pink diamond. A new feature here is you got to align these layers to the composition. So, if we want to put this halfway up in the composition, so vertically align this, the composition, we can click this button which changes the vertical center of the object to match the vertical center of the composition. We could also do this with the horizontal center. And so by clicking these two buttons, the horizontal center alignment and the vertical center alignment buttons, we now place this object dead in the middle of the composition. That is amazing.
We could also align this up with the left edge or the right edge. And so you notice the rightmost edge of the layer is butted up against the rightmost edge of the composition. We could also use the top of the composition or the bottom of the composition. So, you can see that if we want to a align things to one of these edges of the composition, this is absolutely amazing. Now what happens when we have a bunch of objects like this and we want to group them in a more attractive way? Well, what I am going do is I am going to select the first layer and hold down the Shift key and click the purple layer, so that all of these diamonds are selected.
Now we can change the Align Layers To dropdown from composition, because we really don't care about the composition right now. We want to align these things to the selection, in other words relative to one another. The first thing I want to do is align the vertical centers of these layers so one is not above another one. So, if I click this button, Vertical Center Alignment, again it align all of these to the center of one another. Now the next thing I'd like to do is align them horizontally. Right now, we have one that's on the far left and one that's on the far right, but I want them to be spaced equally.
So, to do that, I go to Distribute Layers. I am going to select this button, which is Horizontal Center Distribution. Click that and that distributes these layers evenly and then we can click and move these around because they are all selected. And now we have a nice even row of diamonds, which looks really cool. With these diamonds still selected, we go to the Align Layers To dropdown, take this back to Composition, and now we can actually align these to the composition. So, now that they are centered to each other vertically, but they are also vertically centered to the composition.
They are in the middle. So, as you're working with motion graphics, oftentimes you will want to line up circles and squares and geometric patterns, like this. So, now you'll want to align them to the top edges, bottom edges, side edges, to each other, and the Align panel has all the ways to do that.
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