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After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating a composition


From:

After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Creating a composition

Before we make a new composition, I'm going to select the Comps folder. That way the new comp I create will automatically be sorted inside this folder. Now there are various ways of making a new comp: you can go under the Composition menu, select New Composition, or use the shortcut, Command+N on Mac, Ctrl+N on Windows. I'd like to use the button at the bottom of the Project panel: Create a new Composition. Whichever method you use, the Composition Settings dialog will open. Now the first thing we'll want to do is give our composition a useful name.

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After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation
2h 19m Beginner Jan 25, 2011 Updated Nov 09, 2012

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Trish Meyer leads beginners through a gentle introduction to Adobe After Effects: from creating a new project and importing sources, through arranging and animating layers, applying effects, and creating variations, to rendering the final movie. However, this is no paint-by-numbers exercise. Trish demonstrates how she makes creative decisions and saves time through the use of keyboard shortcuts and smart working practices. Additional movies explain further details about how After Effects works under the hood. Her measured pace helps even those completely new to After Effects understand the program so that they can use it effectively on their own projects. Exercise files are included with the course.

The After Effects Apprentice videos on lynda.com were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the lynda.com Online Training Library®.

Topics include:
  • Starting a project from scratch
  • Building a composition
  • Arranging and transforming layers interactively and numerically
  • Animating parameters including motion paths
  • Applying and re-using effects
  • Creating variations and rendering the final movie
  • Importing layered Photoshop files
  • Understanding alpha channels
  • Avoiding common mistakes
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Creating a composition

Before we make a new composition, I'm going to select the Comps folder. That way the new comp I create will automatically be sorted inside this folder. Now there are various ways of making a new comp: you can go under the Composition menu, select New Composition, or use the shortcut, Command+N on Mac, Ctrl+N on Windows. I'd like to use the button at the bottom of the Project panel: Create a new Composition. Whichever method you use, the Composition Settings dialog will open. Now the first thing we'll want to do is give our composition a useful name.

No, Comp 1 is not useful name. So let's call this First Animation. You'll notice the composition dialog has two tabs: Basic and Advanced. We'll look at some of the advanced features later in this series. For now, let's just focus on the Basic tab. Here is where you select the Width, Height, Pixel Aspect Ratio, and Frame Rate, and these settings can all be saved as a preset. You'll notice there's a lot of presets that are already included in After Effects, for NTSC, and PAL, common sizes and frame rates, as well as high def and film.

For this animation, I'm going to create a custom size. So I'm going to type in a width of 640 and a height of 480. Now I'm doing that because I want to use a pixel aspect ratio of square pixels. We'll deal with non-square pixels later in the series. The frame rate is 29.97. That's fine. That's the default NTSC frame rate, A Resolution of Full, that's fine for this. It means every pixel will be processed. A start timecode of 0 is what you normally want.

For this animation, we only need a duration of 4 seconds. Notice I can type 400 and After Effects will convert that to 4 seconds. Now in CS5, the Background Color appears in the Basic tab in Composition Settings. In CS4, the background color can be found under the Main Composition menu. So bear that in mind as we go through this series. When I click the OK button, my First Animation comp appears in the Comp panel, as well as the Timeline panel, and it also appears inside the Comps folder.

Now if you're new to After Effects, you might think that you have to save each composition individually. That's not how After Effects works. When you save your project, you'll save all the compositions that you've created and links to all of your sources and so on. So all you are saving is the actual project file, which tends to be quite small, by the way, because you're only linking to your resources. So in the next movie, we'll start importing our sources.

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Q: This course was updated on 11/09/2012. What changed?
A: We added new movies on using the exercise files that come with this course, and working with the Global Performance Cache in After Effects CS6. We have also added exercise files designed for After Effects CS6.
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