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In this course, author Ian Robinson introduces Adobe After Effects CS6 and the world of animation, effects, and compositing. Chapter 1 introduces the six foundations of After Effects, which include concepts like layers, keyframes, rendering, and moving in 3D space. The rest of the course expands on these ideas, and shows how to build compositions with layers, perform rotoscoping, animate your composition with keyframes, add effects and transitions, and render and export the finished piece. Two real-world example projects demonstrate keying green screen footage and creating an advanced 3D composition with the expanded 3D toolset, an important addition to CS6.
Animating shapes inside of After Effects gives you added flexibility because of the extra parameters that you can animate while still keeping the shape vector. I like to create a lot of shapes inside of After Effects starting with shape layers, but since they are vector, you can actually import your shapes from Illustrator. So in this example, I'm going to show you how we can bring an Illustrator file and actually convert it to shapes and then animate it. So we're going to start inside of Illustrator, and from inside Illustrator, I'm just going to go to File, and choose Open, and if you navigate in your exercise files to your Footage folder, and Illustrator, the first file I want you to open is kineteco_01.
Go ahead and open that. I'm using the same Spacebar command, and left-clicking to drag this over. Now since this isn't an Illustrator course, I'm not going to go way in-depth about the files, but I do want to point out one thing that I think will help speed up your workflow. When you're dealing with complicated shapes like this circle here, what you want to do is go look at that layer in the Layers panel. Now I'm just going to click this button over here in the interface to pop up my layers, and when we select one of these shapes, you can see whether it's yellow or blue; when you open the triangle for that layer, it has paths underneath it.
Now this is a complex shape, but since each path is on its own layer, one of the things I like to do before I bring it into Illustrator is actually create one Compound Path from this. So to create a Compound Path, if you have something like this within your Illustrator files, you can select the layer, and click on the Selection Target over here on the right, and then go up under Object, and choose Compound Path > Make. This Compound Path exists on its own layer.
Now since I don't want to import the entire document, what I would do is click on the target, again making sure the layer is selected, and then go up under Edit > Copy, and then go to File > New, and then under the Profile, choose one of the video files, and here, we'll choose our DVCPRO HD 720, click OK, and then I can go Edit > Paste. Now since this is on its own layer and it's a Compound Path, I can save this and import it into After Effects.
Just because I like to have my layers a little larger, I am going to click on the corner, Shift and Option. As I drag out, notice the same sort of key command. Instead of Shift+Command in After Effects and Illustrator, it's Shift+Option. Now with this scaled up, I can save it and then jump back into Illustrator. So let me go ahead and save this and I'll call it Shape 2. I'm just saving it in my Illustrator folder, in my exercise files, under Footage.
Okay, so save. For the Illustrator Options, we can just go ahead and click Save with the default settings. Now let's jump in to After Effects, and double-click in your Project panel to import. If you navigate to the Illustrator folder, we can choose Shape 2 and just import it as Footage. When I click Open, the shape is brought in. If I double-click, it will open up the shape in a Layer Viewer, there we go! And if I want to actually create a composition out of this, I can just drag it and drop it right to the Comp button in the bottom of the Project panel.
Since I used one of the video Presets in Illustrator, when I brought it in, it already had the proper dimensions to create something for video. This is an Illustrator file, so it is vector-based. If you press S to open up the scale and scale up, notice you probably have to click continuously Rasterize to make sure that the edges stay sharp. Well this is all well and good, but if you open up the parameters to animate, notice I can animate all the same things I could animate with any other shape.
So what's going to make this a little more interesting is to turn this into a shape layer. I'm just going to undo my scale adjustment just by pressing Command+Z twice, and with my Illustrator layer selected, you can go up to the Layer menu and choose Create Shapes from Vector Layer. When you do this, now the Illustrator file will be converted to a shape layer. Notice it also turned off the visibility of Layer 2. So just to keep things tidy, let's make Layer 2 shy, and then enable our shy guy in the top of the layer timeline.
Okay, now we can focus just on our shape. What I want to do is make this spin, and then distort it so it looks kind of like a spinning beach ball, and then we can actually change the color as it's spinning as well. So let's open up Layer 1 and open up the Contents. Notice we have one group. If we expand that group, you can see I still have my four paths, and underneath that, they're all merged together to create one graphic, and under the Fill, if you expand that, this is where I can set my color.
So let's set some keyframes for our color. I'm just going to click the stopwatch at the start, and then move down a second, and choose a different color by clicking in the drop well and just moving my Hue here by clicking on the Hue slider. Now when I click OK, it's a different color. Let's move down to two seconds, and adjust. You get the idea. Keep doing this, and adjusting the color all the way down the timeline, roughly one second a piece.
Now to make the last color the same as the first color, I'm just going to copy that keyframe by drawing a lasso around it, Command+C and Command+V. Now it's going to spin around in all of the colors. That's great! But I want to rotate this. Well if we collapse the Fill Option, notice we have Transform Options just for this one group. So you can have multiple shapes within a shape layer, and you can animate each individual shape separately. So notice, for group 1, I have my own set of options for this group.
So let's expand the options for group 1, and if we click and drag on Rotation, notice it's spinning, and that looks pretty cool. So let's add two keyframes. Let's set our first parameter for Rotation at 0 and click the stopwatch, press End to jump your current-time indicator all the way to the end of your comp, and let's create 5 rotations. So click in the first number well, change it to 5, press Enter. Now if we press Home, we can load up a RAM Preview by pressing 0 and this is looking pretty cool, but let's take it over the top by adding some distortion.
So while I can animate certain parameters within the Transform Option, since it is a shape layer, I can always go back up to the top of the contents, and click the Add button. I can add one of these other things that we could keyframe. So I want to add some Twist. When we add Twist, notice it bends the edges of the shape a little bit, and I want to scrub in my timeline, so I can see if it's bending in the right direction and it looks like it is. So let's move our current-time indicator to the start of the timeline, open up our Twist options, reset the angle to 0, and click the stopwatch to add a keyframe.
Now we can press End, moving our current-time indicator to the end, and let's change the angle to 270. Now if we deselect the layer, there we go, just click in the gray area and load up a RAM Preview by pressing 0 on our keyboard. You can see we've animated our vector shape layer. We've taken advantage of some of the different animations options by adding the Twist, and definitely learned how to convert an Illustrator shape into a shape layer in After Effects.
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