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In this installment of After Effects Apprentice, Chris Meyer focuses on ways to edit and enhance layers in After Effects. Through a series of Quizzler challenges and Idea Corner examples, Chris shares alternative ways to employ modes, sequencing, and adjustment layers, while special sidebar movies cover the subjects of creating seamless loops, animating effects points, understanding pixel aspect ratios, and employing Brainstorm to explore the variety of different looks that effects can create. The course also covers tricks for enhancing boring footage and tips for converting scans into moving sequences. Exercise files are included with the course.
The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.
Adobe After Effects ships with hundreds of animation presets, many of which take a range of the hundreds of effects that After Effects shapes with. Let's explore some of those presets. First off, make sure you can view them in the Effects and Presets panel by clicking the Option menu and making sure that Show Animation Presets is indeed enabled. Its folder will sort to the top of this list. You can just start twirling this open and look through the names of presets to see what they might be. For example, Image - Creative. Say that I want treat this selected piece of footage.
I'll twirl this open and look at all these different presets I've got here. Now some of these names may make enough sense that you can just apply them directly, just like you can drag an affect directly on to any piece of footage or double-click it to apply it. Same with Presets. Just drag your preset under piece of footage and bang, it's automatically applied. In this case, blue wash did indeed give more of a blue tint to this footage. To remove a preset, just press Command+Z or Ctrl+Z to go back to where you were.
Double-click gold dip. That's a far different look, very intense. Undo. Colorize-sepia, that what I expect it to. Now quite often with these presets I can just go ahead and double-click a name and get what I expect. Grayscales, different grayscale variations, different intensities there in the sky. Inset Video. That's kind of nice little instant picture in picture effect. Notice by the way than an animation preset can apply more than one effect. It's not just a single effect and a single set of parameters. I'll undo that.
However, some of these names may not be immediately obvious, like what is a scoop mask, what is a Bloom- crystallize? Mood Lighting-digital, what the heck does that mean? Well, you don't need to just play guesswork to see what these things look like. You can also browse these animation presets visually. To do that, you click on the Option menu again and choose Browse Presets. Doing so will open Adobe Bridge which ships with After Effects.
The first time you do it it'll take a few seconds to launch. As you can see here we've got a little bit of delay. But now I'm inside Bridge and it takes me right to the folder inside the After Effects application folder that has my animation presets. I click on the Folders tab here in Bridge and I see that inside Applications > After Effects CS5 > Presets is exactly where I am right now. The animation presets have been broken down into numerous folders. If I want to see what they look like, I double-click a folder to open it. Here is Image - Creative where I was before.
Now I get an actual visual preview of what these different effects look like. I start to see what these Bloom effects look like when I soften the images. Go down here to picture and picture displays. Here what the scoop masks looks like. Animation presets can include mask shapes by the way. And look down the list. Here is Mood Lighting streaks. I see that actually animates now over the image. Mood Lighting - amorphous. It's kind of nice. Animation presets can include animation, either automatic animation caused by effects or expressions or keyframed animations.
So animation presets are actually really, really flexible. Let's go up a level to Presets and start looking some of these other effects. Image - Utilities creates different things like flipping and flopping, different automatic levels. I will go back up a level. There is Transitions such as Dissolves and again clicking on one of these gives me a little animated preview of how this transition might look. Some different effects to look at here. Again, these can contain animation for me.
The thing to remember about animation presets by the way is they're just like pasting keyframes. The first keyframe of the present will start at the Current Time Indicator and there's also other categories like creating synthetic backgrounds for me automatically, etcetera. Let's go back to Image - Creative and say I want to apply one of these to my footage. Let's say that I like this Colorize - sunset gradient preset. I want to see how that looks on my sky. If it's going to add some morphs to my sky. All I need to do is double-click it here on Bridge and I'll be switched back to After Effects and the presets will be applied to the layer that was selected when I first choose Browse Presets.
So that's an important tip to remember. Select your footage then go browse the presets. You can edit these presets just like you edit any effect that you apply to footage and if you don't like a preset just Command+Z and Ctrl+Z to undo its application. You can also stack presets on top of each other. If I go back Image - Creative and say I want to first convert this to a grayscale and then I want to add the sunset gradient on top, it'll just stack all those effects and those presets on top of each other.
If I want to see before and after I go to the Effects Switch in timeline, turn off the processing, and then turn it back on. Again, also remember you've got the Take Snapshot and Show Snapshot as another way of remembering a previous state and then comparing it to where you're now.
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