After Effects CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Controlling animation with parenting and the pick whip


After Effects CS6 Essential Training

with Ian Robinson

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Video: Controlling animation with parenting and the pick whip

Now in this video, we're going to dive into some pretty advanced animation techniques. So if you just kind of stick with me, we are going to get through some really cool things really quickly and hopefully, you'll learn not only a little bit about parenting, the pick whip, and Null Objects, but you'll also learn a little bit how to troubleshoot, because a lot of times when you're designing, things won't work exactly how you're expecting them to. So you need to be able to have a Plan B. So let's get started. Load up a RAM Preview of the animation and let's check it out.
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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

Controlling animation with parenting and the pick whip

Now in this video, we're going to dive into some pretty advanced animation techniques. So if you just kind of stick with me, we are going to get through some really cool things really quickly and hopefully, you'll learn not only a little bit about parenting, the pick whip, and Null Objects, but you'll also learn a little bit how to troubleshoot, because a lot of times when you're designing, things won't work exactly how you're expecting them to. So you need to be able to have a Plan B. So let's get started. Load up a RAM Preview of the animation and let's check it out.

As you can see I've got this kind of cool funky logo animation, but there are still some things that we could do to kind of take it over the top. Now just stop playback there, and I want to talk about where we're headed. So first thing, I like these circles and I think right now they are not getting the respect they deserve, because they are too small and off to the left when the animation starts. And I really love when these words come in, but I feel like the fact that they're bouncing and coming in, they're not really that connected to these circles.

So I want to add some animation. We're going to make the movement of this word drive the color of these circles. Lastly, we can just let the rest of it sort of play out, because it looks really nice in terms of its design and how it's positioned. So to zoom in on all these circles, let's look at what's going on with these layers. Select layer 4 and Shift+Click through layer 9 and press the U key to open up any Animated parameters.

As you can see, we've got a lot of Position keyframes. So if I wanted to try and reposition these, if I just clicked and dragged, you'll notice, well, now I've just added many, many more keyframes. That's not what we want to do. You should create a Null Object. Anytime you're trying to create many objects and reposition them, but they already have animation applied to them, try a Null Object. So select layer 1, go up under Layer, and choose New > Null Object. Even though it looks like this is visible on the screen and even though you can click on it and move it around.

Let me just undo the position change there. Rest assured, when you go to render your animation, the Null Object will not render in your scene. Let's go ahead and press P for the Null Object and select all of the other layers in our animation. So I'm going to click on the first comp there and Shift+Click all the way through the layer 10. Now with all the layers selected, we want to change the Parent property.

Now there are two ways to parent one layer to another layer. One is by using the pick whip, which is right here. If we click on the pick whip for one of the layers and drag it up to the Null, it will choose that Null Object. I'll just Command+Z to undo that. Another way is by clicking on the pulldown and choosing the layer, and notice it populates for all of them. If you didn't see this Parent column, right-click next to Layer Name and go to Columns and choose Parent.

Make sure it's active. I'm not going to choose that right now, because that'll in turn hide it, since it's already active. So now that all the layers are the child of layer 1, go ahead and click and move the Null Object around the scene. Since I'm focusing right on these circles, I could have positioned the Null right in the middle of the circles before I made my adjustment, but I really don't have to worry about that. That's because I'm going to use some scrubbing and some basic timeline adjustment techniques to fix this.

So first things first, let's undo where we moved our logo, because we do want it to resolve here. So let's choose when we want it to resolve to that position and I want it to be in that position just before the word kinet pops up. So let's position our playhead to around 204 and add our first Position keyframe for the Null Object. Let's move our current-time indicator forwards and right about here at 116 let's add a second keyframe.

I'm just going to click this diamond here on the left to add the keyframe. I've set my Position keyframes, let's go ahead and move the position just by clicking and dragging on the X axis, and here I can click and drag on the Y axis down a little bit. Now that's nice and center, but I want to add some scale. So I'm going to hold Shift and press S, so Position doesn't go away, but I can access the Scale parameter. Let's press K to move to the second keyframe and add our first Scale parameter, because I want it to scale to this 100%.

Let's press J and scale this way, way, way up. Now notice when I scale this up, I'm going to have to reposition things. And that's the case for why you would actually position the Null Object before you made the change. But again, part of this video I want you to learn how to just sort of roll with adjustments. So as you can see here, I've got my animation up tight and then it zooms back to reveal our text. If we move our current time indicator up here, you'll notice the edges of this look kind of blurry, and that's because these are vector objects, but they are scaled up to 351%.

But the vector objects were not actually activated to be vector. So what you need to do is select all of these Illustrator layers just by clicking on one and Shift+Clicking on the other, and click on the Continuously Rasterize button which is this one that looks like the sun. You want to activate it for all of those layers just by clicking in the box below. Now we have nice, crisp, sharp lines. It may appear a little jagged, but that's just because we're viewing it at 50%. See if I looked at it at 100, you can see beautiful sharp lines.

Let's change magnification back to 50. You can see I have my Position and Scale keyframes and this movement is going to be rather linear. Not quite what I'm looking for. So let's just add Eases to both of these keyframes. Click and drag and choose Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease In. I'm going to click and drag a Lasso around the other keyframes, right-click on them, Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease Out. Now it's going to give that smooth motion back, but also I want to go ahead and animate the colors of these objects.

The way we'll do this, we'll have the scale of the word kinet actually drive the color change of each one of these little circles. The circle I want to change for this specific example will be this green circle here. In order to change the hue I want to apply a Hue/Saturation effect adjustment. So we go to Effects > Color Correction, and choose Color Balance (HLS). That gives me the Hue, Lightness, and Saturation adjustments. In order to have this effect get driven by the scale I need to actually select what parameter I want to change as the scale of this object changes.

So select the Hue parameter here and we need to actually zoom in on our timelines. So let's make our timeline a little larger and I'll scroll up until I can get to the word kinet. I'll select layer 2 and press S to open up the Scale parameter, and go back down and reselect my Hue. The reason you want the word Hue selected is you have to have the specific parameter highlighted when you go up under Animation and choose Add Expression.

Now with this Expression set up to be applied, it's actually pink and waiting for me to click on the pick whip and tell it what parameter is going to adjust the change in the hue. Now look what happens. When I click on this pick whip and drag it up to the word Scale, notice nothing happens until I press Enter on my keyboard. And notice what happened when I pressed Enter, it said okay, well, the scale is 100, and so your hue change needs to be 100.

Well that's a problem because this is a logo and we know when the scale is finished animating I want it to have the correct color. So what we need to do is move back to the last Scale keyframe and look at the parameter. It's set at 100. So to edit this expression, I can just click on the type and click one more time to make sure that the cursor is active all the way on the right side of the words. And I'm going to type -100 at the end.

What this will do is offset that animation. So now when this is at 100, this will be set to -100. So now when the circles animate in they will be the wrong colors, but that's okay because when the word kinet comes in it will resolve to the proper color. I encourage you to try and do the same thing for all of the following circles. Just remember, you need to go up under Effects and apply a Color Balance effect before you can select the specific parameter and add the chosen expression.

So we covered a lot of things right now. But if you made it through this far I want you to feel happy and encouraged, because these were some pretty advanced topics. Also relax, take a breath, because throughout the rest of this course we're definitely going to be using Null Objects, parenting, and expressions to further drive your creative animations.

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