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Discover how to manipulate time in After Effects. Author Chris Meyer shows how to stop, slow, and speed up footage, and how to combine these techniques with nested compositions, expressions, and the Graph Editor. Along the way, he reveals several important yet somewhat hidden functions, such as the advanced composition setting that ensures predictable stop motion, the Frame Mix and Pixel Motion modes of the Frame Blending switch, and the Time Remap parameter.
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Next, I'd like to show you another way to induce that stop-motion look. I went ahead and closed all of my other compositions, just to clean up my display, and now I want you to open Comp 12a-Numbers*starter. We'll RAM Preview, and this little comp includes a series of numbers randomizing very quickly. Let's see what's going on here. I'll select that layer and press F3 to open up the Effect Controls panel. And if you don't have an extended keyboard, you can always go underneath Window to find many of these things like Effect Controls. I've used the Numbers effect, and rather than using it to enter a specific value such as Time and Date, I enabled the Random Values option to get this randomizing number.
The problems with effects in After Effects that randomize is that they do it on every single frame of your composition, and if you're rendering for video and have enabled Field Rendering, you'll actually get two different randomizations per frame, one for every field. And quite often this can be just too fast to work for lot of designs. Let's look at a couple of different ways of calming this down. One you already know. We go to Composition > Composition Settings, set a lower frame rate like 5 frames a second, OK, RAM Preview, and now we have a much more sedate updating.
This is more like a readout you can read and something that might be a better simulation for say a control panel, et cetera. And as you already know, if you wanted to nest this into another composition-- I'll drag this into a Nested*starter-- you'll have the normal result of it randomizing in every frame, unless you go back to the pre-comp, go to Composition Settings, go to Advanced, and click Preserve frame rate. OK, back here, RAM Preview.
And now we have our more sedate readable update. There is another approach other than using the comps frame rate that you should know about. I am going to go back to this pre-comp, go back to the Composition Settings, and reset the frame rate to its normally fast 29.97 frames a second. Go to the Advanced tab, turn off Preserve frame rate. I'll click OK. I'll select my numbers layer, and there is an effect, underneath Time, called Posterize Time.
This is another way of getting a stop-motion feeling out of a layer, particularly after a series of effects. Here I can enter a frame rate such as 5 frames a second, Enter, show a RAM Preview, and get the same sedate slowed-down feel. When I go back to the master comp that this has been nested into and RAM Preview, again, it has been slowed down and I did not need to hit the Preserve frame rate switch. Using the Posterize Time effect is particularly handy if you're not quite sure what rate is going to work for you. Say you want to experiment with different rates and have a feeling for how this looks.
And you might remember from an earlier lesson that we also showed you trick called edit this, look at that. I want to go back to my Numbers comp. I'm going to lock this Effect Control panel, switch back to my main composition this is nested into, and now I can go ahead and edit my frame rates in the pre-comp without having to switch my display. RAM Preview again. There is this slightly faster rate. I think I like that a little bit better against this background. Now Posterize Time has advantages and disadvantages.
The advantages are, it's easy to edit and you can apply it per layer. It does not take over the entire composition. The disadvantages are, it's applied per layer. So if you want your entire animation to slow down, you might find yourself applying this to a whole bunch of layers rather than just one layer. You might want to change the comp frame rate instead. Also, there are occasions where Posterize Time can run awry by the things in After Effects, such as other effects that do reach back in time as well. So there are times when this will give strange results.
However, it is a handy tool to add to your arsenal.
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