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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.
Markers are a way for you to create notes for yourself or if you work in a team to make notes for other people on your team, so you know where things are happening. We saw this earlier in the training series in the beginning when we did this Hansel and Petal ad and I put these little comp markers here. That's what these are in the Work Area bar here, and you could put notes on them if you want, or you could just have the marker there if you'd like, and they indicate certain things like the "Filigree Core & Stem Start Here," and the "Stem Tips Start Here." So they are marked in time, so I know later on that this is what's happening at that particular time.
Now there's actually two different types of markers: there are markers for the layer, and there are markers for the entire composition. Now we'll talk about why you'd want both in just a moment. When I go back over to this Clip05- tahoe clip, and this is a very long clip. If we click here in the Project panel to see this clip, this is 19 seconds long, which is actually really long, and nobody wants to look at one solid clip for 19 seconds. Your eyes just get fatigued. You would want to use bits and pieces of this but not one solid cut of this for 19 seconds.
So, what I might want to do is go through and get the juiciest bits. Let's say, for example, there is like the start of the trick right about there. So, what I am going to do is select this layer and I could go to the Layer menu at the top of the screen and then choose Add Marker. That's a little tedious though, so what I'm going to do is I'm going to hit the Asterisk key on the numeric keypad, and that will add a layer marker. This little marker right there, and then I'll move out in time and wait until the Snow Boarder lands the trick. Boom! Right there. And then I want to press the Asterisk key again for when the trick ends.
So, I could double-click on these layer markers. I'll double-click on that one. And I'll just say Trick Start and then click OK and then I could double-click on this one and click Trick End. Now while we're in this window, let me explain this really briefly. The Time is where the marker is going to be placed and you could actually choose to have a Duration for the marker. This is a little bit advanced, so I actually never use this Duration value. There's this Chapter and Web Links area. This is also something that I don't use very often, but with certain formats mostly QuickTime, you can embed certain information, such as the chapter or a URL.
So, if somebody is playing the video in QuickTime, QuickTime will recognize a web link and then can launch a browser and go to a certain web page. So, let's say you have like a video for a commercial product and somebody is watching it and when they get to the end of the video, you want their web browser to launch to take them to your web page to see your product, you can do that there, but they have to be viewing it with QuickTime, and this is not something that's typically done very often. It's not very popular, and there's also a Flash Cue Point. So, if you work with Flash and you're going to export this as an FLV, you could set this up as an Event or a Navigation Cue Point to be used by Flash later.
You could even set up a parameter name and value here for this Cue Point as well. For now, I'm just going to go ahead and click OK so that this says Trick Start, Trick End, and I could go through this footage and go to when the next trick starts, maybe like right here and add another marker, etcetera. Now another cool thing about marking footage is that this works when you're previewing footage as well. So, if I hit the Spacebar key and I was previewing and then once this slide stopped I could hit the Asterisk key again and it would make another layer Marker there. Usually, what it do is I RAM preview footage and if I have like an audio track, a lot of times I'm syncing my motion graphics to an audio track and so I'll RAM preview while I am listening to the music and then I hit the layer marker, that Asterisk key, when there is certain beats in the music or something.
And I can use this a guide while I am editing to make cuts happen at certain times or certain like animation bits to happen with those triggers using those layer markers as kind of like cues for what's going on. Now I mentioned that there are two different types of markers. There are layer markers, which we've been looking at, and also xomp markers, which we saw on the Hansel & Petal Ad comp. So, what I can do is to create a comp marker is go over here to the shield on the right-hand side of the Timeline panel. Click and drag this over to the left. As you can see, we have a number on these by default. Now we could double-click these to put a comment in it.
You could see the Composition Marker dialog box. It was just like the Layer Marker dialog box. But if we leave them as they are, then they are numbered. What's cool about these, they create kind of navigation points. If you don't rename them they become numbered comp markers and if I push 1 on the main area of the keyboard I jump to the first comp marker and 2, I jump to the second comp marker and so on. Now you might be wondering, why would I ever want to use layer markers as opposed to comp markers? Well here's the deal folks. If I click and drag on my layer to move it, then the layer markers come along for the ride.
I would not want to put the Trick Start, Trick End and all that kind of stuff because then if I move this layer, then those comp markers are still going to stay there, but the layer markers are going to move with it. So, the difference between layer markers and xomp markers as far as workflow goes is that you put layer markers on things that are specific to that layer. And then you put comp markers for that overall program. So, let's say for example you are working on a project for a client and they said, "Okay, at two seconds and 13 frames in, we want music to come in, and we want to see these graphics.
We want to see like the name of our company." So, you might want to go to 2 seconds and 13 frames right about there and then I would put a comp marker there because this is something that's going to affect the entire program not just one layer. So, again, layer markers define content on that particular layer and comp markers define content or important points for the entire composition. Now again, because you can double- click on these and add whatever comment you want, they become great sticky notes. So, you could put notes to yourself or if, again, you going to pass this on to somebody else, you might be able to put something like, "Hey, on this frame, I was thinking doing such and such," and as you could see this dialog box is huge.
You could put a huge comment to somebody in there. So, you can give them a basic idea of what's happening. Or let's say you're about to close out work for the day, and you don't want to forget where you are, but you do want to clock out and go home and relax a little bit. So, you make a comment that says, Okay! This is what I was thinking about doing blah blah blah, whatever. So, when you come in to work the next day, you know where you were in the work process. You don't have to start from scratch again. Markers are perhaps the best way for you and the other people you work with to be familiar intimately with your project.
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