After Effects CS5 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating lights and cameras


After Effects CS5 Essential Training

with Chad Perkins

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Video: Creating lights and cameras

So, now we are going to bring this to life by using a light and a camera. Before we do that, I just wanted to share with you what I did since the last movie here. Negative Z values actually bring objects closer to the camera, closer to you, closer to your view. And so what I did is I took these icons, and I gave them negative values, as you could see towards the top here, like -165 for Icon 5, and so on and so forth. And then there are kind of like key plain, like zero plain objects, and the path is kind of one of those ones I don't really want to move very much.
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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
  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
    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

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Watch the Online Video Course After Effects CS5 Essential Training
8h 39m Beginner Apr 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the After Effects workflow
  • Precomposing footage
  • Explaining the basics and beyond of animating
  • Creating glows, patterns, textures, and more with effects
  • Color correcting footage
  • Working with text
  • Manipulating video playback speed
  • Masking objects and shape layers
  • Removing backgrounds with keying
  • Compositing multiple pieces of footage
  • Integrating After Effects with the rest of the Creative Suite
After Effects
Chad Perkins

Creating lights and cameras

So, now we are going to bring this to life by using a light and a camera. Before we do that, I just wanted to share with you what I did since the last movie here. Negative Z values actually bring objects closer to the camera, closer to you, closer to your view. And so what I did is I took these icons, and I gave them negative values, as you could see towards the top here, like -165 for Icon 5, and so on and so forth. And then there are kind of like key plain, like zero plain objects, and the path is kind of one of those ones I don't really want to move very much.

Same thing with the Bridges. So, I kind of want those to be at zero. So, if we go down to the path, it's about -7. So, it's a little bit closer to the viewer. We have just got a little bit of depth. That's okay. But then I put like the shadows underneath the trees and actually, these trees way, way, way back here. Right here, the faded background tree layer if I turn this off and on, those layers have a high positive value, which pushes them farther away from the camera. So, the shadows and these little curvy lines here, those things, again, are farther in the background.

So, we have things staggered in 3D space. If we look at the 4 View, we can see that the Right View, we have a lot of things staggered here. The Top View again, and this is where the audience is looking this way in the Top View. And so we have a lot of different layers here, a lot of different Z depth dimension objects, which is really good. That's what we want. So, I am going to take this back to 1 View, and now to see all the glory that we've created - actually first let's cramp our layers a little bit.

I am going to select one layer, hit Command+A or Ctrl+A to select all, and then hit Shift and the Tilde key, the little squiggle next to the 1 on the keyboard. Shift+Tilde to collapse all these layers to shrink them down so it's a little bit more manageable. And then we are going to right-click in some blank area of the Timeline panel, like right here, usually to the left of a layer's name, to get this pop-up dialog box when you right-click. And I am going to choose New > Camera. I am just going to go ahead and set the default settings. If you're familiar with camera work, you will notice a lot of the similar settings here, such as your Angle of View, your Zoom.

There's even like different Lenses. And what you can try to do is try to match up, if you are going to do some compositing, you try to shoot up your virtual camera here in After Effects with the actual lens that you used in the field. Now, that how it works in theory. There is actually a little bit more in terms of variables to it. So, it doesn't always work like that. But as a general rule, that's how things go. Regardless, I am just going to leave all settings as is and click OK. And by default, you won't notice too much because the default lens, the 50 mm lens, and the 50 mm lens is very similar to the way After Effects naturally renders things.

So, to really see the depth that we have in our scene, we are going to use this tool. This is the Unified Camera tool, which is pretty cool. If you click and drag left and right, you'll orbit around the scene with your camera. And actually, let me zoom in here so you could see this a little bit more closely. Click and drag, you zoom around. And so we are getting a three- dimensional view of our scene. And you could see the faded background tree in the background here and the shadows moving more in one direction, and then the icons in the front, and even the houses moving in a different direction.

You can move up, and you can move down. So, by staggering these flat layers in three dimensions, we have created a real three-dimensional scene. Of course, if we were to keep orbiting the camera, then the joke would be up, because we would be able to totally see what's going on. And as we turn to the side, you could see, again, these are just a series of flat layers. But assuming you don't do that, this illusion is a very cool look. Now, with the Unified Camera tool, if you have a three-button mouse, you can hold down the middle mouse button to pan around.

And you could hold the right mouse button down to zoom in and zoom out. So, you have all three of these functions available to you in one Unified Camera tool. Now, if you've done any work on a film set, or if you have worked in photography at all, then you know that lighting makes all the difference and whether something looks good or whether something doesn't. So, I'm going to go and right-click in the same way we created a new camera, and I am going to create a New > Light.

And I am just going to keep this is a spotlight because they have the most dramatic effects. So, I am going to go ahead and click OK. And by default, the light is zoomed in in such a way that we can't see the light really. Most of our objects are in darkness. Actually, let me show you what this light looks like here. I am going to go to the Top View. And really, what this Light is, it's a light source. And then we have a little point that shows us the direction of the light. So, we could actually move the light and the light source at the same time, or we could move just where it's being pointed and leave the light actually where it is.

So, I am going to take this back to the Active Camera View. And then I'm going to click the light source on the Z space and click and drag and pull this back, so we could see more of our objects. Now, the way I typically like to do things, unless I have a specific purpose not to do this, but one of the things I like to do is to leave a little bit of the cone from the light in there so we have this falloff, and that adds so much realism to what's going on. Now if, for example, we wanted to focus on bar number three, then from a design point of view, this would not be that good.

So, we might want to grab the angle here and put more light on number three. But all things considered, if we can't do that, have a little bit of falloff, again, it adds so much more realism to what's going on. So, then we could grab our camera and the Unified Camera tool and click and drag around, and we have a very realistic 3D scene. It almost looks as if we cut these things out on paper and really filmed them. It's really a great look.

In the next movie, we are going to look at how to add shadows to this.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects CS5 Essential Training .

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Q: In the "Creating a fireball" movie in Chapter 6, the author showed how to make a fireball. Unfortunately, it all centered around a blob layer that he made without showing how to make a blob layer. How does one go about creating a blob layer like the one used in the video?
A: To create a blob layer, make a shape layer using the Pen tool. Animate the anchor points over time to make it move. These concepts are reviewed in depth in Chapter 4, "Learning to Animate."
Q: In the Chapter 5 video "Understanding precomposing," the exercise file provided does not seem to match up with the file the instructor uses. My file does not include a "Biker Body" layer. Is there an error in the exercise file?
A: Unfortunately, the exercise file originally distributed for this chapter was incorrect. A new file was issued in February 2011. If you downloaded the exercise files prior to then, you can download the corrected file on the Exercise Files tab of the course page.
Q: How do I transition from one piece of animated type to another in After Effects?
A: There isn't an effect that can create these types of transitions. It's really a matter of animating the type and camera, using basic keyframing and positioning.
If you understand the basics of moving the anchor point of a type layer, animating the parameters of that layer (Scale, Rotation, Position, etc.) and then separately animating the camera around the type layers, you can achieve different types of transitions.  Check out the following videos for more information:

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