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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.
We're going to be continuing where we left off here in the last movie with the Solid and actually kind of screw with the solid a little bit. So, let's go ahead and open up the layer and across from Transform, you'll see this Reset button, if you click that, it'll reset all of these values to their defaults. If you right-click on any property, anywhere, even the Effect Controls panel that we'll look at in just a moment. If you click Reset, it'll reset that value. So, go ahead for Transform, click Reset to reset everything back to the way it was. Now we're going to apply an effect.
Go to the Effects & Presets panel. If it's not showing, you can go to the Window menu and choose Effects & Presets. Open up the Generate category of Effects. At the top here, you'll see an effect called Beam. This is great for laser blasts and light sabers and that type of thing. We're going to be using it to demo what it is to apply an effect. Now there are a few ways to do this, kind of like importing a layer to your composition from the Project panel. I can click and drag on this effect to a layer in the Composition panel.
So, visually, I can do this. If you have a simple project like this, where's just one layer, then that's a great way to do it, and it's probably the fastest, because it's just right here. But if you have a project with many layers, sometimes that's a dangerous thing because you might be looking at a different layer and want to apply it to the layer that you think you are, but you applied to the wrong layer on accident, and that's not a good thing. You could also drag and drop it to the Composition panel and when the layer highlights, that's how you know that you are on the correct layer, and it will apply to that particular layer.
There's another way. This is how I like to apply effects. I select the layer that I want to apply the effect to, before going to the Effects & Presets panel. Then once I find the effect like Beam, I just double-click it, and it applies to the currently selected layer. Now in full disclosure, I should point out that there is an Effect menu at the top of the screen, and you could access these same effects over here through this menu. The problem with this is that you have to know which category every effect falls under. As you can see here, some of these categories have many, many, many effects, so you have to know your categories and know your effects. But in the Effects & Presets panel, there's the Search field.
So, I could just type in Beam. If I didn't know what it was, I could just type in bea, and by the time I get to bea, I really don't have to type the m, and it already comes up here as Beam. That's the only effect with B, E and A in a row. Make sure if you want to look for other effects after that, that you click this X to close out that search. Now, you'll notice here in the Composition panel that we have our Beam. The Blue Solid is completely gone. This is what I was talking about in the last movie is that sometimes, like with the Beam effect, it completely replaces the layer the effect is applied to.
So, now we just have a Beam, no hint of a Blue Solid whatsoever. Now, there are some common parameters here in Beam that we're going to see a lot through many effects that I want to explain to you. Some effects have what are called Effect Control points. We're seeing these here at the circles with the pluses inside of them. These mean that you can click and drag and manually move these wherever you would like them to be. So, if I want the beam to be coming from a turret down here - shooting up into outer space out here - I can just click and drag that.
Now you could see as I move this around that this Ending Point value is changing accordingly. So, we can move Effect Control points in three ways: one, we could just manually click and drag on it to where we wanted to be. Two, we could also use position. There's an X axis and a Y axis that we can adjust. And third, there's this little target here. This is the Effect Control point cross hairs. We can click that. Then we get these cross hairs, and we could manually click wherever we wanted to be. Now oftentimes, you'll have color swatches, such as Inside Color and Outside Color.
We can click on the color itself to get a dialog box, like we saw before, we can tweak the colors. We also have an eyedropper that we can click, and we can use this to sample colors from our project. As a matter of fact, we even sample colors from the After Effects interface, so that's what we wanted to do. It's just a really great eyedropper, like if we had another scene going on - maybe a cool background - and we wanted to change this color to match the background, we can use the eyedropper there. Now when I first apply this effect, it showed up automatically in the Effect Controls panel. But while you're working in After Effects, sometimes that panel might disappear.
I might go back to the Project panel and be working, and I might say, "Hey! Where are my Beam Effect Controls?" Well, the Beam Effect Controls are in Effect Controls panel. The keyboard shortcut for this panel is F3 on your keyboard. You could also go to the Window menu as well and choose Effect Controls, but it's down here below this line, not up here with the Effects & Preset panel. So, again, don't be confused. We apply effects in the Effects & Presents panel. We adjust them once they've been applied from the Effect Controls panel, usually on the left-hand side.
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