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In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.
So, we want to apply some effects; however, we cannot do that in this project, because we have nothing to apply the effect to. So, I'm starting here in a blank, fresh project. Go ahead and make a new composition by clicking this icon here. When this comes up, we'll go ahead and change the preset. Just go ahead and go to NTSC DV. This is Standard Definition, which is quickly going out of style, but for right now, I'm just going to go ahead and click OK. That creates a composition for us. But notice there are no layers in our composition, and you need a layer to apply effects to.
Oftentimes, you don't want to apply the effect directly to an important layer. Let's say you have some video or something. If you put the effect on that layer, as we'll see, then it will completely replace the contents of that layer. So, what we need to do is come down here to a blank area of the Timeline panel and right-click and go to New. Now, we're going to create a different type of layer. From this New flyout menu, below this divider line anyways, we can create different types of layers. We can create a Shape layer, Camera, a Light, a Solid.
We're going to talk about all of these as we go through this training series, but for now, I'm going to click Solid. That will create a new Solid layer. Now a Solid is simply an area of pixels. That's all it is, basically, a dummy layer or an area of color. So, I can click this little swatch here, and I could click in the color picker. I could drag up and down here to change the hue, and then as we go to the right, we increase saturation. We go the left. We decrease saturation. As we go up, we increase brightness; as we go down, we decrease brightness. Watch this.
This is a cool trick. As I move the colors around, you could see, dynamically, that the name of the Solid - if you don't choose to name it - it's automatically going to name it based on the color that you choose. So, as you move these color swatches around, it's pretty awesome like a box of crayons or something. It gets really specific about the colors that you're choosing, which is pretty fun. So, I'm going to go ahead and pick a color. It doesn't matter. Click OK. Click OK. Now we have a solid layer. You'll notice, as I open this up, it has its own set of Transform properties, and just like with the regular layer, we have a bounding box.
These little dots are kind of like indicating the outside boundaries of the layer. We could click on this to rescale the layer, just like with a regular layer. So, we can make this smaller if we wanted to. We could make it spin around. We could use these for geometric shapes, not just for effects but anything. I find that I use solids all the time in my work, and you probably will as well no matter what you're doing. Alternatively, you can go to the Layer menu at the top of the screen and go to Layer > New, whatever, whatever, choose the Solid. The keyboard shortcut, by the way, is Ctrl+Y, Command+Y. I don't know if you'll be using Solids as much as I do, but that's one of those keyboards shortcuts I have memorized, because I use it so frequently.
So, moving along now. Now that we have a Solid, a layer to apply effects to, it's time to apply effects, which we'll look at in the next movie.
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