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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.
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.
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