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Parenting is a way to group multiple layers within the same composition inside After Effects. In this course, Chris Meyer shows how to set up a parenting chain, discusses what makes a good parent, and demonstrates several techniques using parenting, such as creating a title animation with a minimal number of keyframes, building a geometric construct, and bringing an anthropomorphic robot arm to life. Sidebar topics include avoiding a scaling gotcha with parenting and creating abstract backgrounds using the Fractal Noise effect.
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®.
To save you some time I went ahead and built this video edit in time to my music. Now I want to treat this entire composition as one element in my final RoboBody composition. Again, we'll be covering this a lot more in a future lesson, but all I need to do is find my video edit composition,. I am going to move it up to Comps so I keep track of it. I'm going to drag it down to the bottom of my layer stack, so it appears behind everybody. You'll notice that those composition markers that I placed have now come in as layer markers for this layer. That's great.
And grab that video layer, position it behind the frame, type S to reveal the Scale, scale it down a little more tightly inside the frame. That's okay. Let's go ahead and look at it later in time, see how my framing works out. Now the skydiving footage does have little bit of vignetting going around on these corners. So I want to make sure I don't bring that in. So let's go ahead and cheat it a little bit in that direction. Let's make sure it looks good for the rest of the clips. I don't mind it being a little lower.
So let's go ahead and drag it down, later. A little vignetting issue there. That should work pretty well. Note again, my composition markers came forward, but none of the individual layer markers that I placed on the music soundtrack came forward. I'd still like to have access to those to time my robotic arm movements. What I can do is simply go back to the video edit comp, select the Music layer with all of its markers, Copy, go to RoboBody, and Paste.
And now I have got my music track with all of those individual markers. However, there is something to watch out for. I have got the music in this composition and I have the music in the prior composition. I don't want two layers of music playing at the same time. They will add together, they will be too loud, and they will be distorted. So I can either turn off the Audio switch for that nested composition or I could go back to that comp, leave the Audio on because I still want to preview and edit in context, but take advantage of a nice little feature in After Effects called Layer > Guide Layer.
A guide layer is only audible or visible inside the current composition. It will not appear further down the chain. So I go back to RoboBody. I don't even need to worry about the Audio switch, because it won't carry through to my next composition. Okay, I have the time element sorted out. I know where my video clips start. I know where all the important beats of my music are. The next thing I need to worry about are my spatial cues. Where do I want this arm to reach in space? For that, I am going to create a couple of words describing each of these sports.
So I'll select my Text tool. It automatically opens up the Character and Paragraph panels. I'll go ahead and left align my text. I'm going to pick a different font such as one that Adobe supplies with After Effects like Minion Pro. Place the cursor, start typing. I'll start with a bullet, which you get by holding Option on Mac and then typing 8, space, snowboarding, and that's a little bit on the wimpy side. So let's go ahead and massage our type to look good before we create any more of these titles.
I think I want it to be a little bit bigger. That looks nicer! Let's see what additional weights I have in this family. That was something a little bit heavier like Semibold and maybe even something with little bit of a movement to it like Italic might look nice. I have got movement in my video and I have got movement in my type and white type is frankly boring. Let's see what we've got here. I am seeing a common color here. I'm seeing the wood of the snowboard. I am seeing the wood of the skateboard ramps and the street circuit.
I'm seeing the brown ground underneath. I think I'll pick one of those colors to be my starting-off type color. Maybe something like in that range. I can always adjust this later, but this is a good starting point. Now that I have set up my type with my font, my font style, and weight, my point size, and my color, any new words I create will all have that styling. I'm going to press Enter to make sure that this line of type is accepted, place my cursor, and start typing another line such as Vertical Ramp, Street Style, another skateboarding type, and down in here Skydiving, and I'll press V to return to Selection tool.
I can make them in a nice arc like this, or I can have a bit of fun and go ahead and move them in and out a little bit like maybe something like this. I want to make sure I stay inside video action and title safe. So I'll go ahead and toggle on by Title/Action Safe grid. Oops! I have got that word outside of title safe. So I bring it in, bring it in, make it a little bit better spaced in that direction, okay. Finally, for the sake of neatness, maybe I want these evenly spaced.
So I am going to pick out where I want my lowest title to be. Maybe this far down. That's my lowest title. I'm going to select all of my other text and I'm going to take advantage of the Align panel to go ahead and distribute these in space. I'll choose the tool to vertically center their distribution and now these additional layers will be spread out nicely. I don't like how that looks. I'll click off, select skydiving, move it a little bit higher. I think it's a little bit too low there. Select my other layers, Distribute again, and that's a better spacing.
Okay, I know where I want the arm to move in time. I know where I want the arm to move in space. Finally, let's go animate that arm. That's what we'll do in the next movie.
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