After Effects CC Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

After Effects CC Essential Training

with Ian Robinson

Video: Creating and adjusting motion paths

Anytime you record key frames with spatial data, like position key frames. As I click and drag, notice it's Now if you look on your motion path, you'll see other, slightly bigger squares.
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  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 1h 5m
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
    2. Using the exercise files (CC 2014.1)
      1m 57s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 19s
    4. Understanding and managing applications with Creative Cloud (CC 2014.1)
      2m 32s
    5. Which versions of After Effects CC does this course cover? (CC 2014.1)
      1m 40s
    6. Relinking missing footage
      1m 54s
    7. Working with keyboard shortcuts
      1m 23s
    8. Different ways to use After Effects
    9. Exploring the interface of After Effects (CC 2014.1)
      13m 22s
    10. Exploring the interface of After Effects
      12m 0s
    11. Exploring important preferences, and setting up the cache (CC 2014.1)
      8m 44s
    12. Exploring important preferences and setting up the cache
      6m 20s
    13. Video terminology (CC 2014.1)
      6m 19s
    14. Video terminology
      4m 24s
    15. Updating After Effects with Creative Cloud
      1m 25s
  3. 1h 0m
    1. The six foundations of After Effects
      11m 5s
    2. Understanding compositions
      10m 35s
    3. Creating and manipulating layers
      9m 49s
    4. Building animation
      6m 29s
    5. Working with effects
      7m 5s
    6. Introduction to 3D
      8m 45s
    7. Understanding how to render
      6m 48s
  4. 38m 54s
    1. Importing elements
      5m 53s
    2. Organizing projects
      3m 51s
    3. Building compositions with layers
      6m 17s
    4. Animating with keyframes
      10m 0s
    5. Adding effects and graphics
      8m 7s
    6. Output techniques
      4m 46s
  5. 44m 49s
    1. Exploring composition and project settings
      6m 48s
    2. Importing Photoshop files as compositions
      8m 39s
    3. Importing Illustrator files as compositions
      7m 41s
    4. Viewing files in the comp panel
      4m 42s
    5. Understanding Pre-compose
      4m 21s
    6. Positioning layers with snapping
      4m 55s
    7. Interpreting footage
      4m 0s
    8. Keyboard shortcuts for compositions
      3m 43s
  6. 1h 5m
    1. Defining layers
      5m 4s
    2. Creating type layers
      7m 38s
    3. Precise typesetting techniques
      5m 42s
    4. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      9m 6s
    5. Creating design elements with shape layers
      6m 10s
    6. Layer compositing: Masks, switches, and blend modes
      7m 35s
    7. Using track mattes
      4m 49s
    8. Precise compositing with variable-width feathered masks
      9m 24s
    9. Working smarter by swapping layers
      7m 6s
    10. Keyboard shortcuts for layers
      2m 35s
  7. 1h 35m
    1. Understanding animation
      6m 20s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 52s
    3. Understanding keyframe interpolation (CC 2014.1)
      8m 52s
    4. Understanding keyframe interpolation
      6m 20s
    5. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      8m 26s
    6. The power of parenting
      5m 26s
    7. Using null objects
      6m 46s
    8. Creating expressions with the pick whip
      6m 25s
    9. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      9m 56s
    10. Building complex graphics with Pre-compose
      4m 54s
    11. Preparing audio for animation
      8m 57s
    12. Generating graphics with audio
      9m 13s
    13. Working smarter: Navigating the Timeline
      4m 32s
  8. 58m 59s
    1. Understanding the order of effects
      5m 58s
    2. Generating backgrounds with effects
      5m 33s
    3. Generating a scribble effect
      8m 12s
    4. Animating strokes with effects
      6m 37s
    5. Using adjustment layers
      5m 52s
    6. Adding gradients and glows
      4m 30s
    7. Saving pan and scan presets
      5m 20s
    8. Fixing exposure with Levels
      3m 5s
    9. Fixing color casts with Color Finesse 3
      9m 57s
    10. Masking individual effects
      3m 55s
  9. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding 3D in After Effects
      9m 2s
    2. Intro to cameras (CC 2014.1)
      10m 50s
    3. Intro to cameras
      7m 51s
    4. Intro to lights and material options
      8m 56s
    5. Animating cameras (CC 2014.1)
      11m 11s
    6. Animating cameras
      12m 39s
    7. Creating depth of field
      6m 48s
    8. Exploring the ray-traced 3D renderer
      10m 8s
  10. 3h 40m
    1. Understanding CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects (CC 2014.1)
      1m 53s
    2. Understanding CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects
      1m 32s
    3. 3D foundations (CC 2014.1)
      9m 49s
    4. 3D foundations
      10m 43s
    5. Matching CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects projects (CC 2014.1)
      7m 14s
    6. Matching CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects projects
      8m 9s
    7. Understanding the CINEMA 4D Lite interface (CC 2014.1)
      9m 49s
    8. Understanding the CINEMA 4D Lite interface
      7m 31s
    9. Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files (CC 2014.1)
      7m 20s
    10. Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files
      7m 28s
    11. Exploring modeling in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      11m 7s
    12. Exploring modeling in CINEMA 4D Lite
      8m 8s
    13. Applying deformers (CC 2014.1)
      4m 50s
    14. Applying deformers
      5m 59s
    15. Understanding materials (CC 2014.1)
      10m 29s
    16. Understanding materials
      7m 32s
    17. Lighting your scene (CC 2014.1)
      11m 20s
    18. Lighting your scene
      8m 14s
    19. Looking at detailed materials
      7m 51s
    20. Working with presets (materials and lights) (CC 2014.1)
      7m 44s
    21. Animating in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      5m 52s
    22. Animating in CINEMA 4D Lite
      6m 51s
    23. Adjusting keyframes in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      7m 42s
    24. Animating cameras in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      5m 49s
    25. Animating cameras in CINEMA 4D Lite
      5m 45s
    26. Working with CINEWARE (CC 2014.1)
      8m 11s
    27. Working with CINEWARE
      9m 38s
    28. Render settings and the multipass workflow (CC 2014.1)
      7m 28s
    29. Render settings and the multipass workflow
      8m 38s
  11. 23m 35s
    1. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      4m 45s
    2. Recommended settings for rendering graphics
      10m 21s
    3. Creating presets in the Render Queue
      4m 0s
    4. Prerendering with Import and Replace Usage
      3m 18s
    5. Working smarter: One render, multiple outputs
      1m 11s
  12. 36m 53s
    1. Creating type animators
      8m 52s
    2. Creating and animating type on a path
      5m 32s
    3. Animating shape layers
      8m 45s
    4. Animating brushstrokes with Paint
      5m 54s
    5. Animating text and prepairing templates for use in Premiere Pro (CC 2014.1)
      7m 50s
  13. 23m 31s
    1. Retiming with Time Remapping
      8m 56s
    2. Retiming footage with Timewarp
      9m 10s
    3. Smoothing shaky camera footage with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      5m 25s
  14. 16m 6s
    1. Getting started with Keylight
      8m 43s
    2. Refining your key with Keylight
      3m 42s
    3. Cleaning up keys with masks
      3m 41s
  15. 26m 47s
    1. Rotoscoping with paths
      6m 47s
    2. Introducing the Roto Brush
      5m 58s
    3. Refining the Roto Brush
      6m 12s
    4. Using the Refine Edge tool
      7m 50s
  16. 27m 13s
    1. Creating a single point track
      7m 38s
    2. Applying motion with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      4m 29s
    3. Warp Stabilizer VFX: Reversible Stabilization workflow
      7m 47s
    4. Solving cameras
      7m 19s
  17. 6m 30s
    1. Archiving your projects
      3m 50s
    2. Removing unused footage
      1m 25s
    3. Moving compositions between projects in After Effects
      1m 15s
  18. 2m 24s
    1. What's next?
      2m 24s

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After Effects CC Tutorials | Essential Training
14h 52m Appropriate for all Jun 17, 2013 Updated Nov 03, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Delve into the world of motion graphics, keying, and compositing in After Effects CC. In this course, Ian Robinson lays out six foundations for becoming proficient with After Effects, including concepts such as layers, keyframe animation, and working with 3D. To help you get up and running with the program, the course begins with a project-based chapter on creating an animated graphic bumper. Next, explore the role layers play in compositions and find out how to add style to your projects using effects and graphic elements. Last, see how to build 3D objects with CINEMA 4D Lite, as well as stabilize footage, solve for 3D cameras, and paint in graphics with the Reverse Stabilization feature.

Topics include:
  • Video terminology
  • Creating your first composition
  • Using layers, masks, blend modes, and track mattes
  • Parenting objects
  • Building complex objects with Pre-compose
  • Exploring the ray-traced 3D renderer
  • Understanding the order of effects
  • Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files
  • Lighting a scene
  • Animating type on a path
  • Using Keylight for green-screen footage
  • Rotoscoping
  • Archiving projects
After Effects
Ian Robinson

Creating and adjusting motion paths

Anytime you record key frames with spatial data, like position key frames. You may have noticed a motion path in your scene. So, to look at one, let's go ahead and select Layer Two in our timeline. And with Layer Two selected, you see this dotted line in the middle of the page. This is just showing me that there's animation on this sphere. And if we press the u key on our keyboard, the uber key, it'll open up any animated properties for that layer. So now we can see our key frames in the title line.

I want you to go ahead and click on this box on the left side of this dotted line. Notice the second I click on that box, this key frame here, in the front of my timeline, will highlight. That's letting me know that I'm actually moving a key frame. Whenever you create motion paths, you'll have key frames represented by these big squares. And you can go back and click on them, and then move them after the fact. Now if I try and click on this second key frame, right here where the sphere's currently living. As I click and drag, notice it's automatically going to create a third key frame.

That's because with this second key frame, if I don't have my current time indicator already on that key frame, it thinks that I'm trying to create yet another key frame, now that I'm further down the timeline. So let me just Cmd+Z, or Ctrl+Z on the PC to undo. I'm going to press j to move my current time indicator to my previous key frame. Which is this one right here at two seconds. Now if we click on that key frame and move, we can move it around, and it's just going to modify this one key frame. Now if you look on your motion path, you'll see other, slightly bigger squares.

There's one here and one here. And basically, they're really close to the edges of our key frames because these are control handles. If I click and drag on the rightmost little square, let's drag down. Now I'm controlling the path that this shape will take in its animation. I can do the same thing with this other handle here, by clicking and dragging up. Now, if we scrub through our animation, you can see that the sphere is going to move along that motion path. This is the easiest way to create smooth moves inside of AfterEffects.

You want to create as few key frames as possible, and then go ahead and make adjustments to the motion path. And again, that'll give you smooth results. Now these little dots here signify how fast that object is moving along the motion path. So if I want to see a change, let's go down to the second key frame in the timeline at two seconds. Right-click or control-click on the key frame, and go to Key Frame Assistant. Then choose Easy Ease In, because I want this move to slowly move in to its final resolution.

And now you can see how the spacing - here let me zoom into 100% - I'm going to press the space bar to grab my hand tool to move over. Now you can see as it gets close to that key frame, they slightly start to move closer together. Now to better see that, we'll go ahead and load up our RAM preview here. Once it gets past the second key frame, go ahead and press the space bar to begin playback of your RAM preview. And as you can see, it gives a much more natural motion to that object once it actually moves into its final resting place. Now let's stop playback for a second. Go ahead and hit your space bar.

Now, this kind of animation is sort of exciting, but what if I wanted to actually create a perfect circle for a move? Well that's when you want to actually look at pasting spatial data into your position key frames. And the way you can do that is by using paths. Now you can use paths from an Illustrator file, by literally going into Illustrator and selecting a path, and copying it. Or you can use paths from inside AfterEffects. Like paths applied to a layer. So let's go down to layer four, and just select layer four, and you notice I already have a path on that layer, or a mask.

This mask was created using the ellipse tool. So with layer four selected, I just did a click and drag and held down shift and that created the circle. Now I'm going to zoom out to 50% here. Just sort of reposition my canvas. Again, using the space bar and dragging. Now, notice I have this little circle up here around the top key frame. And then I have other dots around the circle. Well, each one of those dots is an anchor point for the path used to create this mask. Now if we press m, that'll open up our mask path.

And then you want to make sure to click on the words Mask Path to select the path. And then go up under Edit and choose Copy. Now we've copied this path into our clipboard, and we can paste it onto the position data for the sphere. Now, I don't want to necessarily do that. I want to have a little bit more control. So what we're going to do is actually paste it onto a null object. So go up to the Layer menu. Choose New > Null Object. Now that we have the null object in the scene, go ahead and press p to open its position parameters. Click on the word Position and then press Home to move your current time indicator back to the beginning of the timeline.

Now we can press Cmd+V to paste those key frames into the position data for this null object. So if we scrub through, you can see that null is moving around the circle. Now if we go back to the beginning of the comp, notice it automatically positioned that null at the top point of that path. If we re-select layer five, notice that's that anchor point that has the extra circle around it. That's going to be your starting point for any time you create motion paths by pasting from a mask path.

Now we can make adjustments to this motion path the same way that we adjusted the other path, but I like the perfect circle, so I want you to leave it alone. Look back in the timeline, and make sure to just click anywhere off of these four key frames to deselect all the key frames. Now click on that key frame at two seconds and drag to the right. Notice as I'm dragging, the three key frames in the middle are moving. That's because these are roving key frames, and the ones at the beginning and the end are linear key frames. Now as I drag to the right, it's going to make it move more slowly.

That's why the dots on the line are getting closer together. Let's go ahead and move this so it moves more quickly. Let's go ahead and drag it to around one second, 12 frames. Now, the reason I used the null object instead of the sphere, was so that we could actually create a secondary animation to this null object move. So to do that, let's delete all the key frames off the sphere layer. Just go ahead and click the stopwatch next to the word Position. Now, I want to go ahead and reposition my sphere to be up next to the null object.

To do that, I'm going to hold down shift as I click on the pick whip for the parent column. Let's go ahead and point the pick whip towards the null object one. When I let go it'll automatically move my layer up to the position of that null object. Now that happened because I held down shift as I created the parent-child relationship. If for any reason this parent column wasn't open in your project, you can right-click or control-click next to Layer Name and go to Columns and just make sure it's active. Now that we have the parent-child relationship set up, we can just offset this sphere a little bit from this point.

So I'm going to select layer three, hold down shift, and use my up arrow. Go ahead and click the up arrow three times. Now just so I have two copies of that sphere, I'll go ahead and re-select layer three just by clicking on it and press Cmd+D to duplicate. And then we can hold down Shift and use the down arrow. So let's press this six times. Three to get back down to the original place and then three more to offset it accordingly. Now we have these two spheres, and if we scrub through, you can see that they're moving in unison with the null object.

And while that's kind of fun, it's not nearly as fun as it can be. So let's animate the rotation of the null object. Make sure your current time indicator is back at frame zero, and press Option-R to add a key frame for rotation. Now let's go ahead and move to the end of our project. I'm just going to drag my current time indicator there. And let's add 12 full rotations to our null object. So in the first parameter for rotation, I'm going to go ahead and type 12. And Enter.

Now if we scrub through, you'll see it's spinning, and that's exactly what I wanted. Now it's spinning. And it stopped moving around the circle. And that's just because our position key frames end at 112. So let's quickly make these last the rest of the timeline. Click on the word Position for the null object. And then press Cmd+C, or Ctrl+C on the PC, to copy those key frames. And then I'm going to press j to move my current time indicator back to my previous key frame. And now we can Cmd+V, or Ctrl+V to paste.

Let's move our current time indicator down towards the end of those key frames and press j again, just to make sure we're on that last one. And we can press Cmd+V to paste. Now, let's select all those key frames, since that's relatively close to what we want. And now I can hold down the Option key, and as I click on the last key frame, I can resize all of these key frames, and they'll all stretch out. Now we can look at our handiwork. Let's go ahead and load up a RAM preview. Now I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty cool, and we could continue building on this animation by using Precompose.

But for now, I just want you to remember that adding motion paths into your workflow can allow you the ability to create precise animations. It's when you start adding some of your other animation techniques, like null objects, where you can really start creating complex animation.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects CC Essential Training .

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Q: This course was updated on 6/18/2014. What changed?
A: We added new movies to the "Fundamentals of After Effects" chapter, reorganized and re-recorded the "Up and Running" and "Keying Green Screen Footage" chapters, and added new movies on Color Finesse 3 and masking individual effects.
Q: When I try to open a project file, After Effects tells me I need to update my system, since the file was made with version 13.0. But I already installed the most recent After Effects update. Why can't I open the project?
A: In the latest round of updates, Adobe chose to create a completely new installer for this latest version. While you may have updated the version of After Effects CC you have installed (12.x), there is an entirely new After Effects install for 2014 (13.0). Check for an After Effects CC (2014) item in the Creative Cloud app and download and install it from there. 
After you install the new version, you should be able to open 13.0 projects. After Effects CC (2014) will coexist with the older version of After Effects on your machine. If you currently have any shortcuts on your computer to launch After Effects, you may have to go back into the Programs folder and create a new shortcut to the newer version, After Effects 2014.
Q: This course was updated on 11/03/2014. What changed?
A: We updated 25 movies to reflect changes to the Creative Cloud 2014 release of After Effects. This includes the new optimized user interface and enhanced Cineware and CINEMA 4D Lite pipeline. The new movies are labeled with the "(CC 2014.1)" tag.
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