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Creating and adjusting motion paths

From: After Effects CS5 Essential Training

Video: Creating and adjusting motion paths

In this movie, we have the task of moving this little figure here around the path as if she were taking a tour through the olive gardens, the olive things here. So, what we're going to do is we're actually going to select this top layer, PRECOMP person. I put it at the top of the layer stack, not because that's the best idea. Because we probably wanted to go behind the bar and that type of thing, behind the trees and whatnot, but just for the sake of easy of use, I'm going to press P for Position and put a stopwatch for Position.

Creating and adjusting motion paths

In this movie, we have the task of moving this little figure here around the path as if she were taking a tour through the olive gardens, the olive things here. So, what we're going to do is we're actually going to select this top layer, PRECOMP person. I put it at the top of the layer stack, not because that's the best idea. Because we probably wanted to go behind the bar and that type of thing, behind the trees and whatnot, but just for the sake of easy of use, I'm going to press P for Position and put a stopwatch for Position.

I'm going to move out and time a little bit. Again, it doesn't really matter where. I'm just going to say 12 frames, and then we'll move her down the path a little bit and then we'll move over to Frame 23, let's say, and we move around. And as we move objects around Position, you'll see that a path is created for you. This is referred to as a motion path. Initially, there seems like just kind of like a guide more or less, but it actually is a very useful tool.

You see these little main points all along the path correspond to the keyframes that you set. As a matter of fact, as you see here this first keyframe that we set here is hollow and watch this keyframe here in the Timeline panel. When I select it, it goes from gray and then once I click it to select it, it becomes filled in here in the Composition panel and in Timeline panel it turns gold indicating that it is selected. So, again, we can select keyframes easily this way and visually see where our keyframes are.

More than that, these little tiny dots in between the keyframes correspond to the individual frames. So, we can use these as a reference to look at the speed of our object. If we have a lot of dots very close together, it indicates that the object is moving slowly because it's very slow to go from frame to frame. And as we have dots that are spread out far apart, then we know that the object is traveling very fast because it's going a great distance from frame to frame. Now what's even cooler about this is that we want to look at this and say you know what? Actually, I want this keyframe to be out more like this or in like this, and we could tweak it and play with it.

And we could also adjust what we were talking about in the last movie. We can adjust the spatial interpolation. We might want her to follow this path a little bit more cleanly so we can click on one of these keyframes to select it. We get these little dots. They're kind of hard to see, but they kind of extend outside of these keyframes. It kind of like Bezier handles if you're familiar with the Illustrator and Bezier paths. I can click one of these handles and drag this down so that as our character turns the corner, there's a little bit more roundness to how she follows that path.

Now, this is a little bit too far so I might want to move this up and take this handle in. So, again, we're not adjusting the keyframes per se. Actually when I clicked to drag this keyframe, I was moving the keyframe. But by adjusting these handles, we're not adjusting the keyframe. We're just adjusting how she gets from Point A to Point B. This is where a lot of the control is in motion paths, a lot of great control because imagine trying to go down the smooth curved paths without motion paths, without spatial interpolation. It would be very difficult.

So, this way, we could just kind of move in time and go out to some crazy path like that, that's not really following this curve at all, but then we can grab these little handles and move them around so then she does kind of follow the curve of the path. So, whether you want your character to follow a path like this or whether it's just like a rocket or something else you want to move in some way that's not just robotic and straightline-y. I just invented the term straightline-y, by the way. Haha.

But if you want your characters to move around in some organic smooth way, then spatial interpolation by manipulating motion pass is a way to go.

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This video is part of

Image for After Effects CS5 Essential Training
After Effects CS5 Essential Training

111 video lessons · 67488 viewers

Chad Perkins
Author

 
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  1. 5m 40s
    1. Introduction
      1m 30s
    2. What is After Effects?
      3m 12s
    3. How to use the exercise files
      58s
  2. 28m 14s
    1. After Effects workflow overview
      2m 18s
    2. Bringing elements into After Effects
      2m 23s
    3. Adding elements to the Timeline
      1m 57s
    4. Working with layers
      3m 45s
    5. Creating animation with presets
      3m 24s
    6. Applying effects
      3m 34s
    7. Creating animation without presets
      5m 38s
    8. Previewing your work
      2m 46s
    9. Exporting content as a movie file
      2m 29s
  3. 27m 20s
    1. Touring the interface
      6m 2s
    2. How After Effects projects work
      4m 47s
    3. What is a composition?
      4m 52s
    4. Tips for adding content to compositions
      2m 49s
    5. Understanding the properties of video
      8m 50s
  4. 57m 8s
    1. Importing an Illustrator file
      4m 57s
    2. Animation basics
      7m 12s
    3. Animating opacity
      6m 40s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      4m 57s
    5. Animating position
      6m 8s
    6. Animating rotation
      4m 41s
    7. Animating scale
      7m 19s
    8. Using the Puppet tool
      7m 13s
    9. Copying and pasting keyframes
      3m 4s
    10. Animation shortcuts
      4m 57s
  5. 9m 42s
    1. Understanding precomposing
      6m 51s
    2. Navigating through compositions quickly
      2m 51s
  6. 1h 12m
    1. A showcase of effects
      2m 34s
    2. Creating a layer for effects
      3m 1s
    3. Applying effects
      4m 54s
    4. Animating effect properties
      4m 29s
    5. Using Glow
      5m 34s
    6. Creating patterns and textures
      6m 57s
    7. Creating a fireball
      7m 9s
    8. Using the Cycore effects
      5m 58s
    9. Adding blur
      5m 45s
    10. Creating a galaxy scene from scratch
      8m 38s
    11. Distorting objects with effects
      4m 7s
    12. Creating and using lens flares
      4m 21s
    13. Creating lightning bolts
      4m 3s
    14. Viewing random variations with Brainstorm
      4m 39s
  7. 30m 52s
    1. Shortening the duration of layers
      4m 23s
    2. Trimming in the Footage panel
      4m 14s
    3. Slowing and accelerating video speed
      7m 9s
    4. Applying video transitions between clips
      6m 7s
    5. Working with image sequences
      4m 47s
    6. Importing footage with an alpha channel
      4m 12s
  8. 36m 11s
    1. Brightening dark footage
      9m 12s
    2. Changing colors in footage
      6m 34s
    3. Creating cinematic color treatments
      8m 17s
    4. Creating a quick vignette
      3m 42s
    5. Colorizing black-and-white objects
      4m 50s
    6. Using adjustment layers
      3m 36s
  9. 21m 9s
    1. Creating and editing text
      7m 39s
    2. Applying text animation presets
      4m 41s
    3. Animating text manually
      4m 43s
    4. Applying layer styles to text
      4m 6s
  10. 28m 58s
    1. Let's get better
      37s
    2. Using work areas
      3m 37s
    3. Creating markers
      6m 17s
    4. Replacing layers
      2m 35s
    5. Mastering Timeline navigation
      3m 18s
    6. Aligning and distributing layers
      3m 4s
    7. Selecting layers quickly
      1m 56s
    8. Cropping layers
      3m 43s
    9. Adjusting comp resolution
      3m 51s
  11. 23m 53s
    1. Using the paint tools
      9m 35s
    2. Using the Roto Brush tool
      9m 25s
    3. Animating growing vines
      4m 53s
  12. 40m 29s
    1. Creating and using masks
      6m 42s
    2. Exploring mask options
      7m 57s
    3. Creating masks with Auto-trace
      6m 51s
    4. Masking objects with other objects
      5m 33s
    5. Making shape layers
      3m 43s
    6. Modifying shape layers
      9m 43s
  13. 30m 44s
    1. Turning 2D layers into 3D layers
      9m 22s
    2. Creating lights and cameras
      6m 14s
    3. Creating shadows
      4m 23s
    4. Using depth of field
      4m 42s
    5. Working with 3D effects
      6m 3s
  14. 18m 10s
    1. Removing a green screen background
      4m 37s
    2. Refining the matte
      4m 48s
    3. Compositing with color adjustments
      4m 50s
    4. Compositing with blend modes
      3m 55s
  15. 25m 44s
    1. Understanding spatial interpolation
      2m 5s
    2. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      3m 55s
    3. Orienting moving objects along a path
      1m 29s
    4. Drawing motion with Motion Sketch
      2m 51s
    5. Creating pauses in animation
      3m 6s
    6. Understanding temporal interpolation
      1m 56s
    7. Easing keyframes
      5m 57s
    8. About the Graph Editor
      4m 25s
  16. 12m 13s
    1. Stabilizing shaky footage
      7m 46s
    2. Tracking the motion in footage
      4m 27s
  17. 24m 58s
    1. Setting up parent layers
      5m 49s
    2. Working with null objects
      2m 31s
    3. What are expressions?
      7m 17s
    4. Modifying simple expressions
      2m 20s
    5. Using the wiggle expression
      7m 1s
  18. 6m 52s
    1. Understanding audio in motion graphics
      1m 22s
    2. Previewing and mixing audio
      3m 55s
    3. Enhancing audio tracks with effects
      1m 35s
  19. 11m 36s
    1. Adding comps to the Render Queue
      2m 30s
    2. Exploring key Render Queue settings
      4m 11s
    3. How should I export my video?
      4m 55s
  20. 7m 16s
    1. Using Photoshop with After Effects
      2m 10s
    2. Using Illustrator with After Effects
      3m 2s
    3. Using Flash with After Effects
      2m 4s
  21. 11s
    1. Goodbye
      11s

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