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After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating and using markers


From:

After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics

with Ian Robinson

Video: Creating and using markers

Inevitably, in every motion designer's life there will come a time where, yes, they'll have to play a second fiddle and learn how to get along with the audio in their lives by actually animating the graphics to the audio and not the other way around. It's sort of like living in a family where sometimes you win and you get to choose what's for dinner and make it, while someone else does the dishes. Well, basically the direction has already been chosen for this project, and now all we have to do is finish up by timing the build of our elements with the progression of the audio that's been chosen.
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  1. 3m 37s
    1. Welcome
      1m 1s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 4s
    3. Defining motion graphics
      1m 32s
  2. 11m 11s
    1. Workflow for creating motion graphics
      5m 7s
    2. Organizing projects for motion graphics
      4m 25s
    3. Defining a motion graphics "package"
      1m 39s
  3. 12m 58s
    1. Collecting visual inspiration
      2m 14s
    2. Listening to imagine
      3m 20s
    3. Creating elements for inspiration
      7m 24s
  4. 33m 4s
    1. Essential theories of typography
      6m 34s
    2. Understanding shortcuts for setting type in AE
      7m 27s
    3. Converting type from Photoshop
      5m 51s
    4. Importing type from illustrator
      9m 44s
    5. Creating shapes from text
      3m 28s
  5. 36m 30s
    1. Understanding the role of timing in motion graphics
      8m 1s
    2. Creating and using markers
      7m 58s
    3. Creating animation with markers
      5m 16s
    4. Using audio to create animated graphics
      5m 47s
    5. Editing techniques for graphics and video
      9m 28s
  6. 49m 27s
    1. Understanding different kinds of type in After Effects
      15m 53s
    2. Using animators with type
      7m 59s
    3. Using type presets
      7m 35s
    4. Creating custom type presets
      4m 35s
    5. Animating paragraph type
      13m 25s
  7. 45m 51s
    1. Exploring the use of color in motion graphics
      10m 40s
    2. Creating and using color palettes
      13m 45s
    3. Exploring color correction tools in AE
      6m 46s
    4. Advanced correction with Color Finesse
      8m 30s
    5. Creating custom color presets
      6m 10s
  8. 59m 6s
    1. Exploring textures in motion graphics
      8m 30s
    2. Building an animated background texture
      16m 48s
    3. Creating textures for type
      10m 19s
    4. Animating seamless textures
      15m 1s
    5. Creating custom vignettes
      8m 28s
  9. 38m 25s
    1. Understanding lighting in After Effects
      12m 57s
    2. Intro to lighting techniques
      5m 17s
    3. Using material settings to enhance lighting
      7m 36s
    4. Adding polish to a light setup
      12m 35s
  10. 50m 32s
    1. Animating swoops and swooshes
      12m 37s
    2. Creating repeating light trails with the Vegas effect
      6m 28s
    3. Repeating patterns with shape layers
      8m 11s
    4. Exploring graphic transitions
      10m 37s
    5. Exploring video transitions
      5m 16s
    6. Adding dynamic elements to a video transition
      7m 23s
  11. 22m 23s
    1. Working in 3D
      8m 36s
    2. Rigging cameras for animation
      8m 45s
    3. Working with depth of field
      5m 2s
  12. 50m 54s
    1. Creating storyboards in After Effects
      10m 20s
    2. Creating an animatic
      18m 14s
    3. Polishing the animation and timing
      8m 45s
    4. Applying the final effects
      13m 35s
  13. 47m 53s
    1. Preparing a map for animation
      7m 59s
    2. Animating and styling a map
      8m 24s
    3. Designing a lower-third graphic
      8m 22s
    4. Adding animation to the lower-third graphic
      9m 10s
    5. Creating bumper animations
      13m 58s
  14. 14m 17s
    1. Defining the toolkit
      2m 2s
    2. Preparing templates
      7m 12s
    3. Creating a style guide
      5m 3s
  15. 1m 3s
    1. Next Steps
      1m 3s

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After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics
7h 57m Intermediate Feb 09, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics with Ian Robinson covers some of the core principles used to create motion graphics, breaking them down into smaller groups of applied techniques in After Effects. The course explores everything from gathering inspiration to integrating traditional typography, transitional elements, animated textures, color, and more into motion graphics. Instructions for building a toolkit with templates and a style guide for future projects are also included. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Converting type from Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Creating shapes from text
  • Using markers in animation
  • Editing techniques for graphics
  • Using type presets
  • Animating type
  • Exploring color correction tools
  • Building animated textures
  • Creating custom vignettes
  • Understanding Lights and Material settings
  • Adding dynamic transitions
  • Rigging cameras for animation
  • Working efficiently in 3D space
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Ian Robinson

Creating and using markers

Inevitably, in every motion designer's life there will come a time where, yes, they'll have to play a second fiddle and learn how to get along with the audio in their lives by actually animating the graphics to the audio and not the other way around. It's sort of like living in a family where sometimes you win and you get to choose what's for dinner and make it, while someone else does the dishes. Well, basically the direction has already been chosen for this project, and now all we have to do is finish up by timing the build of our elements with the progression of the audio that's been chosen.

In order to do that, we'll need to use markers. Now before we get started, let's check our settings for Audio Preview. Go up to After Effects and open your Preferences. In the Preview section, go down to the bottom and look under Audio Preview. Now this is set to 30 seconds. That should be about right, but obviously if yours is shorter, definitely set it for something a little bit longer so you can make sure you hear the entire bit of audio. Now, since our comp is only 10 seconds, we're good to go with our audio preview.

Now it's important to note, there are two kinds of markers you can add in After Effects: layer markers and composition markers. Composition markers are created when you click and drag on the Comp Marker button right here to the right of your Timeline. You can also add composition markers by pressing Shift and the corresponding number for whatever number marker you'd like to create. Comp markers are great because they're not tied to a specific layer, but honestly, I have to tell you the truth: most the time I create layer markers. So I'm just going to undo my previous comp markers and select the Funky Tech layer.

Now since there are only three layers in this comp, I can easily add my markers to this audio layer and not have to worry about whether or not I can see the markers. Now if I had 10, 15, 30 layers, you might want to consider actually creating a null object to add your layer markers to, but for right now, we'll just go ahead and select the audio, FunkyTech.wav. So, let's preview the audio. To do an audio preview, you have to press period on the keypad on the right-hand side of your keyboard.

Now if you're on a Mac laptop you want to press Ctrl+Period. (music playing) So as you can see, I've got some very rhythmic audio that's sort of cheesy and retro, but the main thing I want to do focus on is that the fact that it did an audio-only preview. This is really important because if I had a very complex animation already built and I tried to load up a RAM preview, sometimes those don't play in real time.

So if your video or your audio isn't playing in real time, it's really hard to time out specific things because again it's not playing in real time. So with the audio preview playing, now we want to add layer markers. To do that, we need to use the Asterisk key, again, on the keypad on the right-hand side of your keyboard. We'll play this back with an audio preview, pressing period on your keypad, and just go ahead and tap the Asterisk key anytime, in rhythm whenever you think it would be sort of fun to have a little bit of animation for our graphic. So, let's go ahead and get started.

(video playing) And when you press Spacebar, that will stop the playback, and as you can see, I've added some markers into my Timeline. Now if you really want to get particular, you can actually open up the disclosure triangle on the layer and under Audio, open up the waveform, and here you can actually see the waveform and see whether or not the markers are corresponding to specific points in time.

Now, let me go ahead and move this layer up here, so you can see this little more clearly. Now as you can see, like this marker is very close to this spiked audio, and this marker, hmm, yeah, kind of close to these other pieces of spiked audio. If I sat and went through here, I bet you'd see a lot of these are corresponding to different times within the waveform. But really, setting markers to music is more of a rhythm thing, so when you're adding your markers in real time, make sure to go ahead and just tap your Asterisk key to the rhythm in the music.

So markers have two functions: First, they set a point in time. Second, they actually work great for navigation. If I hold Shift as I drag, notice the playhead will snap to each one of the markers. This makes it extraordinarily easy to add keyframes at these specific points in time. So, at this first marker what we want to do is go ahead and bump up the size of our little ELECTRO logo here. So select the word ELECTRO, press S to open up the scale parameter, and add a keyframe.

Now since I'm not changing the scale right now, we wouldn't see any animation. What I need to do is actually create another keyframe to offset or create that actual animation. So what I need to do to actually create animation is have two different keyframes with different values in the Timeline. So let's move our playhead back to the beginning, and I'll just adjust the scale down to around 93%. Now, if we did a preview, you would see this logo just sort of scaling in place, so let's go ahead and load the RAM preview.

(music playing.) Well, that's actually pretty cool, but what I want to see happen is this logo actually pop as it gets to these different points. So what I'm going to do from this point onwards, I'll create some keyframes, but make sure those keyframes are actually hold keyframes. So let me move my playhead past this first keyframe here, and now at our next marker, again, I'll hold Shift as I'm dragging. Let's go ahead and change the scale, so let's change that up to 120, and Shift+Drag again.

We can drag that back down to 80, Shift+Drag, scale it back up, and again, feel free as you're dragging and adjusting, to adjust the parameters to your personal liking. I'm just sort of randomly choosing numbers just because, again, I just want this to sort of pop around the screen. Now, since I'm adding these keyframes right where the markers are, you'll notice that the animation will look like it's actually timed out perfectly to the beat of the music.

Now, since I want this last keyframe to match the first one, what I'm going to do is just select the first keyframe and Command+C to copy it, Command+V to paste where the playhead is right now. Now, to change all these keyframes to hold keyframes, click and draw a lasso around all of the keyframes, making sure when you start drawing your lasso that you're not directly on the keyframe. And now right-click or Ctrl+Click right on the keyframe and choose Toggle Hold Keyframe. Now, we should see the logo scale up and then start popping around the scene, so let's move our playhead back to the beginning to load our RAM preview.

(video playing) So as you can see, I've definitely added some more flavor to this logo, but I could continue by layering rotation parameters and position parameters, and adjust the glow, but basically I think you have the principles down to understand exactly how to add layer markers and make sure that those layer markers are actually timing out key points of animation to sync up perfectly with your audio.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics.


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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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