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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.
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.
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