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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®.
Next, I'd like to show you a really great tool in After Effects that will automatically arrange your layers in time for you. I could keep working with this Comp ahead but I am going to clean things up and open up a brand-new comp. If you have the Exercise Files, it's 03a-Sequence-Full Frame*start. Here I have already trimmed a number of source layers to be the durations that I want. By the way, if I want to solo these, I can go ahead and turn on the Solo switch for a layer. It's this little solid dot in the A/V Features column. Turn on that switch for the corresponding layer and now I'll see just this layer. There is my pan up, turn that off, turn on the next one, look at City Rush.
That's just a segment of that layer that I chosen. And Cityscape. That's the segment I've chosen there, and finally Jet Landing, coming in and touching down and a little bit of that bounce. So those are my four layers already trimmed, and as you already know from the previous movie you could go ahead and slip edit these if you want to use a different segment in time. Turn off Solo. What we want to do is arrange these layers in time so each one starts one after the other. We could do that by hand or we could use a Keyframe Assistant in After Effects to do that for us.
I am going to select all the layers that I want to be involved in this operation, click my first one, Shift+Click my last one. I can either go to Animation > Keyframe Assistant or just right-click on any layer and I'll get a similar menu. I'll choose Keyframe Assistant > Sequence Layers. a special dialog will open. Right now the only question it's asking me is whether or not I want to overlap them? Let's start by leaving that off. I just want them that end-to-end what's known as a butt edit where their butts are spliced together. Click OK and automatically they've been arranged in time, keeping their internal in and out points, namely the segment of the source material we want to use, but changing their external in and out time, how they are timed in relation to the timeline in the composition, to be end-to-end.
Very quick and a lot faster than I could've done it by hand. I am going to undo and try a different option. Right-click, Keyframe Assistant > Sequence Layers, and this time I will turn on Overlap. When I do that, I've got a few choices. I can have them overlap say by 1 second each and I can decide what I want to do during that overlap. If I know I'm going to be doing some transition effects later on I might leave this off, or I can have After Effects fade from one layer to another for me. I'll start with this first choice.
Dissolve Front Layer. When you're working with full frame material like these full frame videos here, this is a choice you want to use when using Sequence Layers. Okay. Overlap, 1-second duration overlap, dissolve, click OK. You'll notice that the layers now have an overlap in the Timeline and if I press U to reveal all of their animating properties, you'll see that they have opacity keyframes toward the layer on top, fades out over the 1 second I specified to the next layer, and so on and so on.
This is a great way to go ahead and create a sequence of layers. Now, let's try that other option we had. I am going to Undo again back to where I started. They are all selected, right-click, Keyframe Assistant > Sequence Layers, Overlap. I have a duration already. This time I am going to choose Cross Dissolve Front and Back Layers. You might think that if you want to cross dissolve from one layer to another that this is the option you want. But actually, it has some problems when you are working with full frame footage, and I'll show you what they are. Click OK.
Now you'll see that as the top layer fades up, the bottom layer is fading down. But there's a problem. When you're in between and both layers are around 50% of their fade, they are both partially transparent and as a result of that you see anything behind them. Since I happen to have the Transparency Grid toggle on right now, I see my Transparency Grid, which is not at all what I want. This is something that catches beginners up all the time. When they want to crossfade between layers, they think they want to fade up the layer underneath and fade down the layer on top.
But that's not at all true. When they are already filling the whole frame, all you need to do is fade out the layer on top to reveal the full opacity layer underneath. So I am going to right-click one more time, Keyframe Assistant > Sequence Layers, go back to Dissolve, click OK, and now I have my desired result. I'm revealing the fully opaque layer underneath.
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