After Effects CC Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

After Effects CC Essential Training

with Ian Robinson

Video: Creating and manipulating layers

When you're talking about layers inside of AfterEffects, Now I know this isn't set at a perfect 0, so if I want to We can choose an individual layer, I don't necessarily want to To add this to our comp all we have to do is click and drag.
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  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 1h 5m
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
    2. Using the exercise files (CC 2014.1)
      1m 57s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 19s
    4. Understanding and managing applications with Creative Cloud (CC 2014.1)
      2m 32s
    5. Which versions of After Effects CC does this course cover? (CC 2014.1)
      1m 40s
    6. Relinking missing footage
      1m 54s
    7. Working with keyboard shortcuts
      1m 23s
    8. Different ways to use After Effects
    9. Exploring the interface of After Effects (CC 2014.1)
      13m 22s
    10. Exploring the interface of After Effects
      12m 0s
    11. Exploring important preferences, and setting up the cache (CC 2014.1)
      8m 44s
    12. Exploring important preferences and setting up the cache
      6m 20s
    13. Video terminology (CC 2014.1)
      6m 19s
    14. Video terminology
      4m 24s
    15. Updating After Effects with Creative Cloud
      1m 25s
  3. 1h 0m
    1. The six foundations of After Effects
      11m 5s
    2. Understanding compositions
      10m 35s
    3. Creating and manipulating layers
      9m 49s
    4. Building animation
      6m 29s
    5. Working with effects
      7m 5s
    6. Introduction to 3D
      8m 45s
    7. Understanding how to render
      6m 48s
  4. 38m 54s
    1. Importing elements
      5m 53s
    2. Organizing projects
      3m 51s
    3. Building compositions with layers
      6m 17s
    4. Animating with keyframes
      10m 0s
    5. Adding effects and graphics
      8m 7s
    6. Output techniques
      4m 46s
  5. 44m 49s
    1. Exploring composition and project settings
      6m 48s
    2. Importing Photoshop files as compositions
      8m 39s
    3. Importing Illustrator files as compositions
      7m 41s
    4. Viewing files in the comp panel
      4m 42s
    5. Understanding Pre-compose
      4m 21s
    6. Positioning layers with snapping
      4m 55s
    7. Interpreting footage
      4m 0s
    8. Keyboard shortcuts for compositions
      3m 43s
  6. 1h 5m
    1. Defining layers
      5m 4s
    2. Creating type layers
      7m 38s
    3. Precise typesetting techniques
      5m 42s
    4. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      9m 6s
    5. Creating design elements with shape layers
      6m 10s
    6. Layer compositing: Masks, switches, and blend modes
      7m 35s
    7. Using track mattes
      4m 49s
    8. Precise compositing with variable-width feathered masks
      9m 24s
    9. Working smarter by swapping layers
      7m 6s
    10. Keyboard shortcuts for layers
      2m 35s
  7. 1h 35m
    1. Understanding animation
      6m 20s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 52s
    3. Understanding keyframe interpolation (CC 2014.1)
      8m 52s
    4. Understanding keyframe interpolation
      6m 20s
    5. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      8m 26s
    6. The power of parenting
      5m 26s
    7. Using null objects
      6m 46s
    8. Creating expressions with the pick whip
      6m 25s
    9. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      9m 56s
    10. Building complex graphics with Pre-compose
      4m 54s
    11. Preparing audio for animation
      8m 57s
    12. Generating graphics with audio
      9m 13s
    13. Working smarter: Navigating the Timeline
      4m 32s
  8. 58m 59s
    1. Understanding the order of effects
      5m 58s
    2. Generating backgrounds with effects
      5m 33s
    3. Generating a scribble effect
      8m 12s
    4. Animating strokes with effects
      6m 37s
    5. Using adjustment layers
      5m 52s
    6. Adding gradients and glows
      4m 30s
    7. Saving pan and scan presets
      5m 20s
    8. Fixing exposure with Levels
      3m 5s
    9. Fixing color casts with Color Finesse 3
      9m 57s
    10. Masking individual effects
      3m 55s
  9. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding 3D in After Effects
      9m 2s
    2. Intro to cameras (CC 2014.1)
      10m 50s
    3. Intro to cameras
      7m 51s
    4. Intro to lights and material options
      8m 56s
    5. Animating cameras (CC 2014.1)
      11m 11s
    6. Animating cameras
      12m 39s
    7. Creating depth of field
      6m 48s
    8. Exploring the ray-traced 3D renderer
      10m 8s
  10. 3h 40m
    1. Understanding CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects (CC 2014.1)
      1m 53s
    2. Understanding CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects
      1m 32s
    3. 3D foundations (CC 2014.1)
      9m 49s
    4. 3D foundations
      10m 43s
    5. Matching CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects projects (CC 2014.1)
      7m 14s
    6. Matching CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects projects
      8m 9s
    7. Understanding the CINEMA 4D Lite interface (CC 2014.1)
      9m 49s
    8. Understanding the CINEMA 4D Lite interface
      7m 31s
    9. Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files (CC 2014.1)
      7m 20s
    10. Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files
      7m 28s
    11. Exploring modeling in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      11m 7s
    12. Exploring modeling in CINEMA 4D Lite
      8m 8s
    13. Applying deformers (CC 2014.1)
      4m 50s
    14. Applying deformers
      5m 59s
    15. Understanding materials (CC 2014.1)
      10m 29s
    16. Understanding materials
      7m 32s
    17. Lighting your scene (CC 2014.1)
      11m 20s
    18. Lighting your scene
      8m 14s
    19. Looking at detailed materials
      7m 51s
    20. Working with presets (materials and lights) (CC 2014.1)
      7m 44s
    21. Animating in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      5m 52s
    22. Animating in CINEMA 4D Lite
      6m 51s
    23. Adjusting keyframes in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      7m 42s
    24. Animating cameras in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      5m 49s
    25. Animating cameras in CINEMA 4D Lite
      5m 45s
    26. Working with CINEWARE (CC 2014.1)
      8m 11s
    27. Working with CINEWARE
      9m 38s
    28. Render settings and the multipass workflow (CC 2014.1)
      7m 28s
    29. Render settings and the multipass workflow
      8m 38s
  11. 23m 35s
    1. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      4m 45s
    2. Recommended settings for rendering graphics
      10m 21s
    3. Creating presets in the Render Queue
      4m 0s
    4. Prerendering with Import and Replace Usage
      3m 18s
    5. Working smarter: One render, multiple outputs
      1m 11s
  12. 36m 53s
    1. Creating type animators
      8m 52s
    2. Creating and animating type on a path
      5m 32s
    3. Animating shape layers
      8m 45s
    4. Animating brushstrokes with Paint
      5m 54s
    5. Animating text and prepairing templates for use in Premiere Pro (CC 2014.1)
      7m 50s
  13. 23m 31s
    1. Retiming with Time Remapping
      8m 56s
    2. Retiming footage with Timewarp
      9m 10s
    3. Smoothing shaky camera footage with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      5m 25s
  14. 16m 6s
    1. Getting started with Keylight
      8m 43s
    2. Refining your key with Keylight
      3m 42s
    3. Cleaning up keys with masks
      3m 41s
  15. 26m 47s
    1. Rotoscoping with paths
      6m 47s
    2. Introducing the Roto Brush
      5m 58s
    3. Refining the Roto Brush
      6m 12s
    4. Using the Refine Edge tool
      7m 50s
  16. 27m 13s
    1. Creating a single point track
      7m 38s
    2. Applying motion with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      4m 29s
    3. Warp Stabilizer VFX: Reversible Stabilization workflow
      7m 47s
    4. Solving cameras
      7m 19s
  17. 6m 30s
    1. Archiving your projects
      3m 50s
    2. Removing unused footage
      1m 25s
    3. Moving compositions between projects in After Effects
      1m 15s
  18. 2m 24s
    1. What's next?
      2m 24s

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After Effects CC Tutorials | Essential Training
14h 52m Appropriate for all Jun 17, 2013 Updated Nov 03, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Video terminology
  • Creating your first composition
  • Using layers, masks, blend modes, and track mattes
  • Parenting objects
  • Building complex objects with Pre-compose
  • Exploring the ray-traced 3D renderer
  • Understanding the order of effects
  • Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files
  • Lighting a scene
  • Animating type on a path
  • Using Keylight for green-screen footage
  • Rotoscoping
  • Archiving projects
After Effects
Ian Robinson

Creating and manipulating layers

When you're talking about layers inside of AfterEffects, you can't help but talk about compositions as well. Layers live inside of compositions, and it's really important to pay attention to how these two elements work together. So in this video I'll show you how we can create multiple layers, how each different kind of layer has multiple options for adjusting that layer, and then how we can use layers. to control each other layer in the composition. So how many more times can I say the word layer? I don't know. But we'll find out here as we move on.

So let's get started. Here in the project panel, if you double click on the layers comp, you'll see I only have one layer in the composition. But it's important when you're in the project panel to pay attention to the resolution of the files that you're working with. So with the layers column selected you can see that the composition's only 1280 by 720. But if we select our sprint start video, that's 2480 x 1080. So notice when I select that layer, the only thing that I can see is this little crosshair letting me know that that layer is selected.

So, that gives you a clue that you might want to change the magnification. Let me go head and change the magnification down to 50% and here you can see my layer control handles. Now layer control handles allow you to click on those handles and resize a layer. Notice as I'm clicking and dragging on the center one, it's actually resizing around the center point. And if we look to the info panel on the right,. You can see the scale parameters are showing me the exact settings that I'm changing. Let's undo that last change.

I can also click in the upper right corner or any of the corners and make adjustments. If you hold down shift as you're making adjustments, it'll make sure to keep things in proper proportion so that your layer doesn't get distorted. Now also to move layers around within a composition, all you have to do is click within the layer. And move. Now, there's one other thing. I've shown you how you can resize just by clicking on the handles and how to reposition the layer. But what if I want to rotate that layer? Well if we go back up to our tool panel here, I could grab the rotation tool and then just click and drag, and it's going to go ahead and rotate.

Around the center point. Well let's say I want that center point to be at a different place. Well if we go back up to our tool panel I can grab my painted behind tool. This allows me to click on the center point and move it and now it's no longer a center point, but basically it's called the anchor point. By default it will be in the center of any layer. Now that I've moved my anchor point, I'm going to grab my rotation tool here, and click and drag. And now you'll notice it's rotating around the new point. Now I know this isn't set at a perfect 0, so if I want to adjust my rotation to zero, you can adjust layer settings by opening the disclosure triangle.

Now I want you to notice with this video layer I'll transform options and audio options. If I open the transform options sure enough on the rotation it's at minus .8 so I can go ahead and click on that and change that to a value of 0. And if I press tab it'll move to the next field. If I just press return it'll go ahead and set. That parameter. So if you want to type in parameters you can do so rather quickly. Now another nice thing, you can click and drag on parameters to scrub the value.

What this allows you to do is quickly and easily manipulate an individual layer. Without having to worry about whether or not you're clicking on one layer or another. Now this isn't an issue right now because we only have one layer in my project, so let's go ahead and import another layer. Before I go too much further I want to make sure to grab my selection tool so I don't accidentally rotate something if I click in my composition panel. So let's double click in the project panel. That'll open up your import dialogue box. Then I want you to navigate to the exercise files folder, and in the footage folder I want you to go to the O2 AI folder.

In there, go ahead and select the h+ sport layer. I want to import this as a footage file, and then just click open. We can choose an individual layer, I don't necessarily want to choose an individual layer, so I'll merge all the layers. Now let's click OK. To add this to our comp all we have to do is click and drag. To drag it to my layers panel. Now, notice when I'm dragging, I'm getting a black line that appears. This allows you to determine exactly where in the layer hierarchy you want your new layer to appear.

So, if I dragged it below layer 1, you wouldn't be able to see anything, unless I lowered the opacity for layer 1. Okay, but if I wanted it to appear above layer one, I'll just click and drag, and move it above layer one. We've manipulated the layer in the composition window, we've manipulated by scrubbing the different parameters here. There's another way you can manipulate here, and that has to do with its appearance over time. So, let's see I don't want this logo to appear until one second in the project. Well. I'll click on my current time indicator and move it to 1 second.

Now if I hover over the left side to the layer, I get double arrows which allow me to click and drag. And then if I hold Shift as I drag, it'll snap to the current time indicator. So now if we move our current time indicator, you see our h+ logo doesn't appear until about one second into the project. Now, what if I want to control visibility between layers? Well I can definitely do that as well, but before I do that, it's important to understand what all these buttons and switches are. So lets start by looking at the left side of layer one.

If I turn this little button off and on, that will determine the layers visibility. So we turn it off, turn it on. Kay. The next button here is the solo button. If you go ahead and enable that, now I'm only seeing that one layer in my project. The lock button allows you to lock off a layer so you can't accidentally select that layer. I'm going to do that. See if I try to and click on that logo it'll automatically select the background layer. Now these switches over here, you won't have to use quite as often. And you'll gain much more familiarity with these as we move throughout the course.

The only one that I want you to pay attention to right now, if I select layer one, is this one here on the right. Which enables 3D. So let's go ahead and click on that. And now notice, look what happened in my composition panel. Let's change in magnification up to 200%. Here you can see I have these arrows and what they are, they're letting me know I can move this on the x axis, or the y axis, or even the z axis if I hover my mouse over the blue one. So notice as I'm moving around I'm repositioning this layer in 3D space.

In order to see what I'm doing lets open up the options for layer one. And notice now that it's in 3D space I have transform options and material options where as layer two only has transform and audio options. If I turn off 3D, notice that I only have transform options. Now that we've covered 3D, let me show you how I can determine on layer's visibility based on the other layer. I'm going to change my magnification back to 100%, and if we reposition our h+ sport logo just by clicking and dragging.

Let's say I want my video to appear only inside of this layer. I can do that by selecting layer two and then go down to this button here on the bottom and toggle switches and modes. Notice when I click on the modes we have different blend modes just like inside of Photoshop. The next pull down is a track map. If I click on that I can tell to look to that alpha channel of the layer above which is the h+ sport layer. I want you to pay attention to the visibility of that layer when I chose that. Notice it automatically turns that layer off, but I still see the h.

That's because the alpha channel of this layer. Is determining the visibility of the layer below. So now, if I reposition layer two, I can reposition my runner in a slightly better place that's more interesting. Now, the last interesting thing about layers is the fact that you can actually apply layer styles, just like in Photoshop. But if you open up my audio options here, or my transform options, notice I'm not seeing layer styles. Now, if I want to use layer styles. I need to go up to the layer menu.

Down here let's go down to layer styles. And now let's add an outer glow. Now once we've added an outer glow, notice in layer two. I'm just scrolling with my mouse wheel up and down to see the different options here. Notice now I have options from layer styles. Here I'll collapse my audio options. If I need more room in my timeline, I'll just move my mouse in between the layers panel and the project panel, and I can just move it up just by clicking and drag. So now under my layer styles here I can open my outer-glow options, and here I can change the size if I wanted to.

So when it comes to. Visibility or how layers appear in your composition panel, it's important to understand their resolution in relation to the resolution of the composition. But it's also important to pay attention to the different options that you have, in adjusting the layer. So for example with my video layer, I now have a layer style setup. Whereas with my Illustrator file, I only had transform options. But any layers you can blend together by using the track nod option, there are many different ways to control layers inside of AfterEffects.

And there are many different ways to control their visibility. Whether it's through the layer hierarchy, through track mats, or just by trimming the start or end points of the layers in the timeline.

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

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Q: This course was updated on 6/18/2014. What changed?
A: We added new movies to the "Fundamentals of After Effects" chapter, reorganized and re-recorded the "Up and Running" and "Keying Green Screen Footage" chapters, and added new movies on Color Finesse 3 and masking individual effects.
Q: When I try to open a project file, After Effects tells me I need to update my system, since the file was made with version 13.0. But I already installed the most recent After Effects update. Why can't I open the project?
A: In the latest round of updates, Adobe chose to create a completely new installer for this latest version. While you may have updated the version of After Effects CC you have installed (12.x), there is an entirely new After Effects install for 2014 (13.0). Check for an After Effects CC (2014) item in the Creative Cloud app and download and install it from there. 
After you install the new version, you should be able to open 13.0 projects. After Effects CC (2014) will coexist with the older version of After Effects on your machine. If you currently have any shortcuts on your computer to launch After Effects, you may have to go back into the Programs folder and create a new shortcut to the newer version, After Effects 2014.
Q: This course was updated on 11/03/2014. What changed?
A: We updated 25 movies to reflect changes to the Creative Cloud 2014 release of After Effects. This includes the new optimized user interface and enhanced Cineware and CINEMA 4D Lite pipeline. The new movies are labeled with the "(CC 2014.1)" tag.
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