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After Effects CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Animating shape layers


From:

After Effects CS6 Essential Training

with Ian Robinson

Video: Animating shape layers

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.
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  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 2m 53s
    1. Welcome
      1m 40s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 13s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. The six foundations of AE
      5m 3s
    2. Introducing the interface and the workspace
      7m 51s
    3. Understanding compositions
      8m 48s
    4. Getting comfortable with layers
      7m 33s
    5. Getting started with animation and keyframes
      8m 30s
    6. Understanding effects
      3m 26s
    7. Moving in 3D space
      7m 41s
    8. Rendering your first animation
      8m 20s
    9. Specifying preferences and cache settings
      5m 44s
    10. Staying organized
      5m 15s
  4. 38m 6s
    1. Creating compositions
      7m 19s
    2. Importing footage and compositions
      7m 54s
    3. Preparing compositions for animation
      8m 7s
    4. Introducing renderers
      3m 15s
    5. Understanding precomposing
      7m 16s
    6. Relinking missing footage
      4m 15s
  5. 59m 58s
    1. Defining layers
      6m 23s
    2. Creating type
      5m 58s
    3. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      7m 55s
    4. Building shape layers
      6m 17s
    5. Understanding switches and blend modes
      8m 26s
    6. Crafting custom shapes and masks
      6m 18s
    7. Creating variable-width feathered masks
      5m 1s
    8. Rotoscoping with the Roto Brush
      8m 20s
    9. Refining with the Roto Brush
      5m 20s
  6. 1h 8m
    1. Understanding keyframes
      6m 1s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 54s
    3. Interpolating keyframes
      8m 5s
    4. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      7m 17s
    5. Understanding positional keyframes
      7m 0s
    6. Controlling animation with parenting and the pick whip
      9m 57s
    7. Understanding animation paths
      6m 27s
    8. Timing to audio
      4m 41s
    9. Trimming and sliding edits
      5m 31s
    10. Swapping images
      4m 1s
  7. 29m 7s
    1. Layering multiple effects
      9m 13s
    2. Generating graphic effects with adjustment layers
      7m 28s
    3. Building backgrounds with effects
      6m 50s
    4. Creating animated strokes
      5m 36s
  8. 40m 15s
    1. Introducing cameras
      10m 3s
    2. Working with 3D layers
      6m 37s
    3. Positioning layers
      6m 13s
    4. Adding lights and working with Material Options
      9m 21s
    5. Using 3D precompositions
      2m 5s
    6. Adjusting depth of field
      5m 56s
  9. 28m 31s
    1. Caching and prerendering
      6m 33s
    2. Understanding the alpha channels
      5m 18s
    3. Using the Render Queue
      4m 34s
    4. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      7m 15s
    5. Archiving finished projects
      4m 51s
  10. 44m 27s
    1. Creating type animators
      12m 16s
    2. Animating type in 3D space
      6m 35s
    3. Adding and animating type on a path
      8m 45s
    4. Composing 3D type
      8m 41s
    5. Animating shape layers
      8m 10s
  11. 32m 45s
    1. Creating stylized video
      6m 47s
    2. Retiming video footage
      9m 31s
    3. Retouching with the Rubber Stamp tool
      10m 19s
    4. Smoothing shaky camera footage
      6m 8s
  12. 14m 19s
    1. Understanding keying
      3m 19s
    2. Creating a garbage mask
      4m 27s
    3. Getting started with Keylight
      6m 33s
  13. 15m 56s
    1. Importing Photoshop documents
      6m 11s
    2. Importing Illustrator files
      4m 24s
    3. Working With Premiere Pro projects
      5m 21s
  14. 1h 15m
    1. Adjusting ray-tracing quality
      8m 19s
    2. Tracking footage
      8m 15s
    3. Extruding shapes
      8m 39s
    4. Bending layers
      8m 38s
    5. Adjusting ray-traced lighting and materials
      9m 22s
    6. Adding environment maps
      4m 58s
    7. Beginning compositing
      8m 52s
    8. Creating render passes
      10m 17s
    9. Building a final composite
      8m 14s
  15. 1m 8s
    1. What's next
      1m 8s

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After Effects CS6 Essential Training
8h 41m Beginner May 07, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Setting up the workspace, important preferences, and the cache
  • Importing footage and comps
  • Relinking missing footage
  • Creating type, shape layers, and masks
  • Rotoscoping with the Roto Brush
  • Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
  • Timing animations to audio
  • Building backgrounds with effects
  • Rendering with the Render Queue and Adobe Media Encoder
  • Animating 3D type
  • Smoothing shaky footage and retouching footage
  • Keying green screen footage
  • Working with 3D: extruding shapes, adding ray-traced lighting, and more
Subject:
Video
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Ian Robinson

Animating shape layers

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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