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This course pulls together the skills you've been learning in the previous After Effects Apprentice installments to create a real-world video promo. Trish leads you through building the artwork and components used in the final piece, and then Chris shows how to assemble these precompositions into a 3D world, timed to music. Along the way, Trish and Chris also share their thoughts as they design a video project, including unifying the overall look and handling change requests from clients.
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 library.
If you have the project files, go ahead and open AEA_Final Project. If you don't have the project file, note that many of these elements we'll be creating from scratch. So you might just like to follow along as best as you can using almost any D1 video footage that you'd like to work with. In this chapter we'll be creating the elements we need for the floor in our final project. That includes a grid as well as this gradient that you see animating around. The size of the grid will be 50x50 pixels square.
Now you might be wondering, where did I get this size from? Well, later on when I made the grid to apply to the video layers, I decided that 50x50 was a good size. So don't feel that you need to know all the answers when you start out. Remember, every parameter and every pre-comp can be edited at any time. So I find what's more important is just roughing out the hierarchy of comps. And then as I assemble the elements into the Main Comp, I can revisit the pre-comps in order to unify the entire design.
So if you've been playing around, close the Footage panel, close any compositions you've been playing with, and let's create our first pre-comp. And this will be for the grid. Since I'm making a pre-comp, I'll select the MyPrecomps folder, I'll select Composition > New Composition and the size I need is 2000 pixels by 2000 pixels, Square Pixels, 29.97. I'll name this comp Grid Floor. I'll also check that it has the same duration as the movie, which is 10 seconds.
And I'll also set the Background Color to White. You can just click on the swatch, pick white as your color, and click OK. As a reminder if you're using CS4, you'll find the Background Color underneath the Composition menu. As you can see, the Grid Floor pre-comp has been added to the selected folder. Now I need to create a solid to apply the grid effect to. We'll call this solid grid solid, and it also should be 2000 by 2000 pixels.
If this is not the size you're seeing, simply click on the Make Comp Size button, and we want to make sure the color of the solid is black. So if it's not black, simply click on the swatch, select black. And we'll click OK to create the solid. The reason I set the Solid to be black is that I want my gridlines to be black also, and you'll see that in just a moment. To apply the grid effect, select Effect > Generate > Grid, and you'll see the parameters for the Grid effect in Effect Controls panel.
The reason you're now seeing a grid right now is that I have a white background color and the color of the grid is white and the grid is also making the solid transparent. You can see that if I turn on the Transparency Grid and bump up the border, which is the size of the gridlines. So just for demonstration purposes, I'll leave these lines fairly thick for now. And, by the way, I do have the magnification set to fit up to 100%, so I can see the entire image. I'll also just quickly change the color of the grid to something else like red just so I can see it and I can turn off the Transparency Grid.
Now I mentioned earlier that I'd like the size of the grid to be 50 pixels by 50 pixels. The default is to create a grid based on these two points, the anchor point and the corner point. The anchor point, you can move around, determines the center of the grid, and the corner point determines the size. But that makes it tricky to make a 50x50 pixel square. So let's look at the other options. In the Size From pop-up, I can change it from Corner Point to either Width slider or Width & Height sliders.
The Width & Height makes a lot of sense. I can now determine the width. I've got a very thick border, so let's bump that down. I can determine the Width and the Height separately, or I can type in values for both. But if I know that I want the width and the height to be the same, I can simply select the Width slider that will gray out the parameter for Height and now by typing in a value such as 50 pixels for the Width, it would also make a Height match the Width.
Now unfortunately, I did play around with the center of my grid, and I'd like to get it back to the center so that I don't have half a grid on the edges. Since I know my solid is 2000x2000, the anchor should be right in the center, so I need to make the Anchor 1000x1000. Now I have a nice even increment, and I don't have any partial grid squares on the edges. I'm going to return the Border size to the default value of 5 for now. Again, these are values that we can return to later and tweak when we assemble all the elements.
One of the problems when working in 3D is as you move the camera, you often see the edge of the floor or any background movies. We'll make this floor fade out softly to transparency. And I'm going to do that by applying a mask. In the Mask Shape tools select the Ellipse tool, make sure the layer is selected so you don't make a shape layer by accident. And then we're going to double-click to apply a full-frame mask. The default color for a mask is yellow, so let me just click on this and make it a different color such as blue just so you can see it a little more clearly.
If you can't see the mask at all, make sure the Mask Visibility switch is enabled. Now we need to troubleshoot why the mask is not making the grid transparent. So let's check out which order things are rendering in. In the timeline, after the black solid is created, then a mask is applied to the black solid. And only then is the Grid effect being applied. If I toggle off the Grid effect, you can see the mask is being applied to a black solid and then the grid is being applied on top of the entire layer, and it's not honoring the Alpha channel that the mask has created.
Fortunately, most effects, like Grid that are synthetic--if you look at the Final parameter, you'll usually find ways of compositing the effect on top of the original layer. In this case, we have a Blending mode pop-up and it includes many of the blending modes you're already familiar with. So if I was to use, say, the Screen mode, it would screen the red grid on top of the black solid. And this blending mode honors the Alpha channel.
The grid is not playing outside in the transparent areas. But let's go back to the top of the list. None was the default, Normal makes the red grid render on top of the black solid, but it also plays outside of the layer's Alpha channel. The next option is the one we're looking for, Stencil Alpha. This does something completely different. Notice the grid is now black. This is the original color of the solid. It's not using the color that the grid effect is creating.
What's happening now is that red grid is creating an Alpha channel and the solid is playing inside the Alpha channel that the grid is creating. Now all we have to do is feather the edge of the mask. Again, we don't want any hard edges to be visible as the camera moves around. To do that, I'll just twirl down Mask and I'll set Mask Feather to 100 pixels, and you can turn off the mask if you like to see the edge more clearly. But we still have a problem with the where the grid is cut off at the bottom, the top, and the sides.
To fix that, just reduce Mask Expansion, and that will choke or contract the Alpha channel for the mask. Remember that Mask Expansion doesn't change the shape of the mask itself. It just contracts the Alpha channel that it's creating. You can see that more clearly if you toggle on the Alpha channel and play with Mask Expansion. So I think that's it for now for the grid floor. We can come back later and tweak any of these parameters if we decide to change the width or the size of the lines.
In the next movie, we'll create the gradient that sweeps around the floor.
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