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After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating a new project


From:

After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Creating a new project

In this first lesson, we'll create a simple animation of a winter scene. If you have the exercise files, notice that we've given you the After Effects project file, which you can use at the end to compare your results with ours. We've also created a folder of sources that you can import into a blank project, and we've also rendered the finished movie from the After Effects project file. So we can see what we will be creating, let's play this in QuickTime player. As you can see, it's pretty simple: there are two foreground video layers, a background video, and a colored solid along the talk.

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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 new project

In this first lesson, we'll create a simple animation of a winter scene. If you have the exercise files, notice that we've given you the After Effects project file, which you can use at the end to compare your results with ours. We've also created a folder of sources that you can import into a blank project, and we've also rendered the finished movie from the After Effects project file. So we can see what we will be creating, let's play this in QuickTime player. As you can see, it's pretty simple: there are two foreground video layers, a background video, and a colored solid along the talk.

The title is in two parts: one part that animates up from the bottom and the snowflake which animates in a long curve. Now that you're familiar with what we're going to create, let's open a blank project in After Effects. I am using CS5, or if you have CS4, that will work as well. If you already have a project open, you'll need to save it and then go File > New > New Project, and that will give you an untitled project. When you first open After Effects, it should open this untitled project for you.

Notice I'm using the Standard workspace. You might want to select that as well so your layout will look the same as mine. Also, under Reset Standard, this will make sure you go back to the original layout. In CS5, you'll click Yes. In CS4, this will say Discard Changes. The next thing we'll do is create two folders in the Project panel: one to hold the compositions and the other to hold the sources that we're going to import. At the bottom of the Project panel, click the New Folder icon.

It will make a new folder called Untitled. We'll call this Comps. And on Mac, we'll hit the Return key, and on Windows, hit the main Enter key. For our second folder, I'm just going to make sure I click outside. That way it will be created on the top level. We'll call this Sources and hit Return. Now what I mean by that is if I make a new folder when one folder is selected, it will make that second folder and third folder inside, and they will be nested, which is not a big deal because it's pretty easy to reorganize them.

You can also drag folders to the top, and they will be on the top level. Now you can make as many folders as you need to organize your sources and your comps, but I think for this simple animation, there should be enough to get started. The next thing we'll do is save our project, and we'll call this Basic Animation v1. By calling it a version 1, it makes it very easy to increment the number as that go along. I don't need to do Save As; I just need to select Increment and Save, and it will increment the number to version 2.

You probably don't want to have just one project file for the whole animation, because if you miss something else, you won't be able to go back to an earlier version. So it's good to keep incrementing the number, just in case something bad happens. So that's it for making a new project. In the next movie, we'll create a new composition, and then we'll sort importing sources.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation.


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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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