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In this course, author Ian Robinson introduces Adobe After Effects CS6 and the world of animation, effects, and compositing. Chapter 1 introduces the six foundations of After Effects, which include concepts like layers, keyframes, rendering, and moving in 3D space. The rest of the course expands on these ideas, and shows how to build compositions with layers, perform rotoscoping, animate your composition with keyframes, add effects and transitions, and render and export the finished piece. Two real-world example projects demonstrate keying green screen footage and creating an advanced 3D composition with the expanded 3D toolset, an important addition to CS6.
I want to start just off this chapter by clearly defining what layers are in the context of After Effects. Even if you have exposure to layers inside of Photoshop, layers in After Effects are organized in a very interesting fashion. Compositions are the containers that the layers reside in, but what I rather find curious about layers is just how different all the various kinds of layers can be. Some layers are only generated from within the composition. Those are called synthetic layers, since After Effects is synthesizing their creations.
So if we look at our kineteco_02 composition right here, you'll see we have a number of layers in our comp. Now I'm just going to move up the timeline, so it's a little more dominant in our view. Now the first layer in layer 1 is actually a shape layer. Shape layers are rather interesting because they are created within the composition of After Effects. If I went up into my Project panel and tried to search for shape layer, it's not going to find it.
It will find the Shapes Photoshop document I imported earlier, but it will not find this individual layer. I would have to search within the timeline to find something like that. Now let's clear out that search, and back on layer 1, if you open the triangle for Shape Layer, you see I have my Transform Options that every single layer has, but I also have a Contents layer. And the way layers are organized inside of After Effects, you have these different sections and they keep drilling down with different triangles.
So this layer, if you can see it here in the composition here, I'll scroll in just a little bit and hold the Spacebar and click and drag to move the composition up, you can see it's actually a rectangle and its opacity is 60%. See if I change this up to 100, you could see it a little more clearly here. Interestingly enough, with the contents for a shape layer, I added a rectangle path. And that's where I set exactly how long it was going to be and how many pixels tall.
There's also a Fill that's applied, and within the Fill it has a color. We'll get more into shape layers later in this chapter, but I wanted you to look at how layers are organized overall in terms of these individual sections. It's kind of organized almost like an outline would be. If you select Layer 1 and press the U key, it will hide anything that you currently have open. Now select layer 2. This is a text layer, this is very much like a shape layer and that it's a synthetic layer.
It's generated within the composition itself. So the way to add a text layer, we use the Text tool up in our Tool panel. But for now, open the triangle on layer 2. And here you can see we have Text Options and Path Options for that text as well as more options for the text. Now what's interesting is, there is this flyout button that says Animate. And if we click on that you can change things for your text like the Fill Color or give it a Stroke.
But we'll jump into that in a little bit. Now I'm going to close more options here and open the Shape Layer and I want you to notice that it's organized in a very similar fashion. See how the Shape Layer has contents and then two sections and Text layers have text, and then I have my Path Options and more options. It's just something to note. Once you learn how layers work for one kind of layer, chances are it will work in a similar fashion for the next kind of layer. Now comp layers are fun because they contain other layers.
If we open up that triangle, you see I do have an effect applied to that layer. I can also see that here in the FX area of my switches. And if we open the Effects you can see I have a Drop Shadow applied. If we close 3, let's look at 4. This is actually called a Solid Layer. And while this is being created within After Effects, it is also something that is footage you can reference in your Project panel. See, if I right-click on my Solid layer, I can say Reveal Layer Source in Project.
And when I do that, you can see there is actually a solid that exists within my composition. This is nice because if I wanted to add another layer solid, I wouldn't have to come up under Layer and choose New Solid, I could literally just drag it and drop it down into the timeline and now you can see I have a second layer. Now the reason this is dominating my view, I put it at the second layer and the rectangle shape layer is above it. If I delete this layer Solid, you'll notice, well, this one isn't dominating my view, and that's because it has a Mask applied to it.
Layers can contain masks, and if I open the triangle you can see the very first thing that's applied is this Mask. Again, we'll explore this later in the chapter. But the last kind of layer I want to show you is an adjustment layer. See, if we change the magnification of our comp in the lower left corner of the comp window, change it to fit up to 100%. Now when I expand the view here, you can see that my background video layer is blurry. I just scrolled with my mouse over the comp window.
If you move your mouse over the timeline and scroll, you can see you can scroll up and down within the timeline. With this adjustment layer, notice I have an effect applied. But if we look at our video layer, the Solar layer down here, here I'm going to expand the width of the Name Column just by clicking on this dash. Here, you can see this Video layer does not have an effect applied to it. And you might be thinking, well, how was that blurry? Well an adjustment layer is in essence an empty or transparent layer within After Effects, but what it allows you to do is apply effects to that layer.
So notice if I open that up, I have a Fast Blur applied to the adjustment layer. The way they work, any layer that's below them will be affected. So if I drag this adjustment layer all the way up to underneath Charlie Winter's name, now look, everything is blurry that's below that layer. Okay, so now that we've seen the overview of these different kinds of layers, let's go ahead and jump-in and actually cover these layers more in-depth throughout the rest of this chapter.
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