After Effects CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Bending layers


After Effects CS6 Essential Training

with Ian Robinson

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Video: Bending layers

To continue on with our theme of 3D, we're going to explore how you can bend layers. So the kinds of layers you can bend inside of After Effects are Photoshop layers, Illustrator layers and layer Solids. In the 3D Options for Shape layers and Text layers you can extrude but there's no option for Bend. The option is literally called Curvature. So to look at this, let's start by actually adding a layer Solid to the scene. Go up under the Layer menu and choose New > Solid.
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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 16s
    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 22s
    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 28s
    1. Creating type animators
      12m 17s
    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 20s
    1. Understanding keying
      3m 19s
    2. Creating a garbage mask
      4m 27s
    3. Getting started with Keylight
      6m 34s
  13. 15m 57s
    1. Importing Photoshop documents
      6m 11s
    2. Importing Illustrator files
      4m 25s
    3. Working With Premiere Pro projects
      5m 21s
  14. 1h 15m
    1. Adjusting ray-tracing quality
      8m 19s
    2. Tracking footage
      8m 16s
    3. Extruding shapes
      8m 40s
    4. Bending layers
      8m 39s
    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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Watch the Online Video Course 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
After Effects
Ian Robinson

Bending layers

To continue on with our theme of 3D, we're going to explore how you can bend layers. So the kinds of layers you can bend inside of After Effects are Photoshop layers, Illustrator layers and layer Solids. In the 3D Options for Shape layers and Text layers you can extrude but there's no option for Bend. The option is literally called Curvature. So to look at this, let's start by actually adding a layer Solid to the scene. Go up under the Layer menu and choose New > Solid.

I'm going to make it the comp size by clicking the button and grab the Eyedropper and choosing this turquoise color just so we match the scene. When I click OK, we have a layer Solid. If we enable 3D on this layer, again, because we're in the Ray-traced 3D Renderer, if we press AA to open up our Geometry Options, notice here's the setting for Curvature. Let's crank this up to a 100 so you can see clearly what's happening here. Now I'm going to switch to 2 Views - Horizontal so you can view this from a slightly different angle to really understand exactly what's going on.

As you can see here, I have this layer that's bending in the background, if I select the layer Solid, notice I can't see any of the handles. That's just because in the previous video we had pressed Shift+Command+H to hide all of those bounding boxes. So press Shift+Command+H if you can't see that. If I zoom out with my mouse wheel, here you can see the bounding box corresponds directly to the amount of the Curvature. Notice the edges of this are rather jagged. Well that's the number of segments that are created to actually create that curve.

So if you click and drag on this parameter we can increase it and now you notice we can get a beautiful smooth curve out of the scene. Decrease the Curvature of this layer and notice as we bring the Curvature down the bounding box gets smaller. This is a very good example of seeing how Curvature works. Let's just collapse Layer 1, and I'm going to enable its shy just by clicking on Shy and hide the layer out of the view, because we're not going to be using it anytime particularly soon. Now with our two words, let's select the word kinet.

If you notice I can already tell there's an issue because the bounding box is the entire composition size. So if we press AA to open up our Geometry Options, if you click and drag on the Curvature, notice the curve is going to be applied starting all the way out at the edges of the composition. That's not what we want. So I'm just going to Command+ Z or Ctrl+Z on the PC to undo. And let's turn off the visibility for Layer 5 and Layer 4. What we need to do is re-import these Illustrator layers as Compositions Layer Size.

So let's double-click in the Project panel and navigate through our exercise files, in the Footage Folder under Illustrator, here's the kinetEco_Extrude Illustrator file. Now we're not going to be extruding this, we'll just be bending. So we can choose Composition - Retain Layer Sizes, and make sure this is not selected and click Open. Now when I click Open, this is going to bring in each of these layers at their individual size. So, if we double-click to open the Extrude 2 comp, notice when I select each one of these layers, now the bounding box is directly around each word.

So to add this to the other comp I'm just going to select Layer 1, Shift+Click on Layer 2 and Copy, Command+C and Paste, Command+V. Notice when I did the Paste command, I had the Layer 7 selected, so that's where the layers were inserted above. So let's just drag this two layers right below Layer 3 and you guessed it, since the visibility of 6 and 7 are off, we can just enable shy for those layers. Okay, now notice we can't see our two new layers.

Well that's because 3D wasn't enabled. So let's just click and drag down the 3D parameter to enable 3D. Now we can see the layers in our scene. And also notice in the timeline, there are no blend mode or Track Matte options for 3D layers inside of the Ray-traced Renderer, so we can hide that in the timeline. Just right-click in the gray area, go to Columns and disable Modes. Okay, this will just give us a little bit more space in the timeline. Now to bend our layers. If you selected the Eco 2 layer and press AA to open up its Geometry Options we can increase its Curvature just by clicking and dragging.

And notice it will curve around the center point. Now what I want to do is bend both of these layers so they curve very much like this layer in the background, but across both words. If we zoom in, in the Custom View layer, notice it may take a second to refresh, that's fine. I'm just going to drag over here, so I can see the layer. Now notice I have depth but it hasn't really curved very much. So let's increase this curve number to around 35 and press Tab.

I've added a slight curve to this but I want the curve to start from the left edge, so in order to do that I need to adjust the anchor point. To quickly adjust the anchor point, I'm going to select Layer 4 in the timeline and press Shift+A. This will add the Anchor Point parameter to the other parameters that are currently open. Now if I click and drag on the X axis, I can move the orientation of this layer over to the left side. Now notice as I'm dragging this number is getting close to zero.

Well the left side will be zero, so let's just click on that and change it to zero. With any layer that's selected, the zero point is always going to be the upper left-hand corner. So when we typed zero it automatically snapped the anchor point to the left edge and now all we have left to do is reposition it in the scene by clicking and dragging on the X control handle. This may get very slow in terms of its refresh as we're dragging, and the way we can deal with this is by clicking and holding on our Fast Preview button in the lower right corner of the Comp Viewer and making sure that we're actually set to Draft.

Now once we're set to Draft, it will take a second to re-render but you should notice the refresh being a little bit quicker. Once Eco is relatively close to our kinet layer, it's time to do the same for kinet. So as I'm clicking and dragging, notice I'm looking here in the Active Camera as well as my Custom View. So I have a better idea as to their location based on what's really going to render. So to better line up the curve, select Layer 4 and press R to open up its Rotation and Orientation. Now we can just click and drag on the Y Rotation to reposition how the curve of this layer is going to line-up as it gets into the word kinet.

So it looks like a value of 25 looks pretty good. Now as I adjust kinet, I want Eco to follow along, so I'm going to make Eco the child of kinet. So click on the pick whip in the Parent column for the Eco Layer and point it towards the kinet Layer. When we select the kinet layer in the timeline, let's press AA to open up the Curvature options and increase its curvature. Just to make sure things are even, let's reselect Layer 4, press AA and make a note of the Curvature settings here. Okay, so we're set at 35% here.

Let's go down to Layer 5 and change the Curvature to 35% here. It may take a second to refresh but once this is actually set up, what we can do is go back to our Eco 2 layer and adjust its Rotation by pressing R and just increasing the rotation just a little bit more. Let's increase it to around 35. No, let's increase it to 45. Okay, now it looks like this is going to curve into this layer a little bit more.

And since Eco is set up as the child of kinet, if we did want to rotate kinet, let's press R with kinet selected, notice Eco would rotate accordingly with it because it's tied together. So let's take a look at our scene by selecting our Active Camera and switching back to 1 View. And as you can see, we've definitely got a good jump on everything with our logo being bent and the background being bent, all by using the Curvature Settings.

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