After Effects CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Building a final composite


After Effects CS6 Essential Training

with Ian Robinson

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Video: Building a final composite

Now that we've pre-rendered all the elements for our project, all we need to do is just import them into a new project and output our final build. To get started let's just double-click in the Project panel. If you navigate in your Exercise Files folder to the Footage folder, there is a 07 folder called Pre-Renders. If we double-click that folder, we can open the Track_Desk folder, and in here we have our Track_Desk_OUT TIFF Sequence as well as our Track_Desk_Shadow sequence.
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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. Composing 3D type
      8m 41s
    4. Adding and animating type on a path
      8m 45s
    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

Building a final composite

Now that we've pre-rendered all the elements for our project, all we need to do is just import them into a new project and output our final build. To get started let's just double-click in the Project panel. If you navigate in your Exercise Files folder to the Footage folder, there is a 07 folder called Pre-Renders. If we double-click that folder, we can open the Track_Desk folder, and in here we have our Track_Desk_OUT TIFF Sequence as well as our Track_Desk_Shadow sequence.

Now if we select the Track_Desk_OUT sequence we can select TIFF Sequence and when I click OK or Open, I get an option for the Alpha channel. This is just telling us that After Effects doesn't necessarily know. So make sure Premultiplied is selected and make sure that this color is black. If you've never changed this color before, it should be black so you should be fine. When you Click OK it will get imported into your Project panel. Let's double-click back in the Project panel again and just scroll down until we get to our Desk_Shadow_OUT.

Now notice I don't need to select the first image as long as I save TIFF Sequence. When I click Open notice at the top of the Interpret Footage box, it's saying frame 0 to 205. So again let's make sure the Alpha channel is set to Premultiplied and click OK. As I'm looking at this I can tell, okay, I've got my image sequence and when it's selected up here at the top in the Project panel, notice After Effects assumed that it was 30 frames a second which is incorrect.

So we need to right-click on the image sequence, go to Interpret Footage, and under Main, let's change that from Assume this frame rate of 30 to Assume this frame rate of 23.976. Notice when I type that in it says Base 24 non-drop. Now I'm going to press Enter on my keypad to set that interpretation. Let's do the same thing for Track_Desk_OUT. Right-click, go to Interpret Footage, and choose Main.

Again, choose the frame rate at 23.976 and press Enter. Now let's import our back plate which is just the background video. So double-click and navigate back to your Footage folder and in your Footage folder you want to choose Video, and choose this Desk_1080 movie. When we click Open, notice it's already imported and it is the proper frame rate. So let's use this as the basis for our final comp.

Drag the QuickTime File down to the Create Comp button in the bottom of the Project panel, and our comp has started creation. Notice right here this number. This number is being created by the timecode that was present on the QuickTime when it was captured. If this bothers you, you can go to your Composition Settings and under the Start Timecode let's just change this to 0. I'm going to select everything and change it to 0, so when I click OK now we know exactly when the start of the comp is.

Let's add our shadow layer on top of our first layer, and there we go, we can see it, and we can drag our last sequence in on top of everything. Now this looks horrendous, but that's just because we haven't adjusted the blend mode for Layer 2. So select Layer 2 and make sure Switches and Modes are enabled. If they aren't, just right-click anywhere in this gray area, go to Columns and make sure that Modes are enabled. Change the blend mode from Normal to Multiply.

When you choose Multiply, it knocks out any of the white pixels and replaces them with transparency. Now any of the darker pixels will automatically get added to the scene. If we start scrubbing through the scene, we should see things refresh. This comp isn't moving particularly quickly on the refresh so I'm going to click the Fast Preview button in the lower right corner of the comp viewer and change it to Adaptive Resolution. Another thing you can do is just select the comp and make sure you're on the right renderer, but notice we don't have any 3D layers.

So we don't really need to do that. Now as you can see our logo looks like it is in the scene. If you want to make it look a little bit more like it's in the scene, you can change the transparency. Now with long names like this on these two layers, I'm just going to drag to make the source name a little bit larger by clicking on this little icon, and let's rename our Track_Desk_OUT. We'll call this Title. I just selected the layer and press Return, and then here let's rename Layer 2, press Return.

We'll call this Shadow. Now to add a little bit more realism we can select our Title layer and press T to open its Opacity and change it down to about 80%, and then we'll be able to see through that layer just a little bit. If we zoom in here you can start to see the back part of the wood actually popping through, and now it's time to do one last little thing to make this blend in to the background. That's add an Adjustment layer, and we're going to add a slight vignette over all of the layers.

So to do that, go up to the Layer menu, choose New > Adjustment Layer, and now we can apply the vignette by using one of the presets. So if we go up to Animation we can choose Browse Presets. Go to the Image - Creative folder and in here, if you scroll down to the bottom there's a setting for Vignette Lighting. If you click on the thumbnail to load a preview it may take a second, but you will see a preview in the upper right-hand corner.

To apply our preview to the Null Object all we have to do is double-click. It will take a second to refresh the scene, but now notice we have this kind of brightness in the middle of the scene. Let's change our magnification from 50% to Fit Up to 100%. It may take a second to redraw the scene, but if we toggle the visibility you can see before and after. Not only is this help to sort of blend into the scene, but it's added a little bit of contrast and pop as well as detail and focus to this specific area.

So now we're ready to render and eventually look at our final QuickTime output. So to add this to the Render Queue I'm going to go up to Composition and choose Add to Render Queue. Since I'm not using this to put into another edit and I just want it to be a small file, I'm going to click on my Output Module where it says Lossless and instead of outputting an animation QuickTime I'm going to go to my Format Options and choose H.264.

I'll leave its Quality set very high and click OK and then click OK. Now we can specify our output area. I'll click on Not yet specified and sure, why don't we go ahead and put it right here in the Footage folder and we'll call this kinetEco and Save. So I'll see you when this is done. All right, now that it's finished, navigate to your Finder to find the file and let's go ahead and check out what we've created.

(video playing) So check it out. We took our logo from an Illustrator file, took it into After Effects, extruded it into three dimensions, created lights, rendered pre-pass renders, brought those back in, did our compositing effects, and did our final output after putting a slight vignette on our scene. It takes a few steps to create some cool graphics, but I think you can see that the reward is well worth the work.

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