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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.
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