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After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Editing motion paths


From:

After Effects Apprentice 02: Basic Animation

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Editing motion paths

Now, I'm going to animate the snowflake along a motion path so it drops into position. If you remember, our title animates from zero to 1 second and 10 frames. I think I'd like the snowflake to fall into position about 10 frames later, so let's cover some tips on moving in time. In the Preview panel, you can advance one frame forward and one frame back. You can also press the Shift key to jump 10 frames forward and 10 frames back. If you have an extended keyboard, I prefer to use the Page Down and Page Up keys to do the same thing.

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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

Editing motion paths

Now, I'm going to animate the snowflake along a motion path so it drops into position. If you remember, our title animates from zero to 1 second and 10 frames. I think I'd like the snowflake to fall into position about 10 frames later, so let's cover some tips on moving in time. In the Preview panel, you can advance one frame forward and one frame back. You can also press the Shift key to jump 10 frames forward and 10 frames back. If you have an extended keyboard, I prefer to use the Page Down and Page Up keys to do the same thing.

Again, I can add the Shift key to jump 10 frames forward and 10 frames back. If you want to go to a precise frame, you can also click in the timecode area and type 1 second and 20 frames to jump to a specific frame. Either way, this will be the point in time where our snowflake ends up in its final resting place. So let's move it into position, and we'll drag the handle, adding the Shift key to scale it. If it was not quite exactly where you want it, remember you can use the cursor keys down and up, left and right to nudge the layer one pixel at a time.

So this would be my final keyframe. I need to turn on the stopwatch for position. A shortcut is to press Option+P on Mac or Alt+P on Windows, and this toggles on the position stopwatch, and also reveals the property in the Timeline. Now we'll press Home to go back to zero. Remember that our title is below the comp at this point. And I'll take my snowflake and drag it up to the right-hand side. You'll see a motion path appearing. I'll position it around here.

As I hit Play, you'll see it's moving into position. I don't need to create the keyframes in the same order that they appear in the Timeline. Now, my motion path by default is using two keyframes, which are called Auto Bezier. Auto Bezier keyframes will have two dots that are just a little bigger than the motion path, and these are representing the handles. As you click on the dot and drag, you can see you can make a curve. Again, there is a dot on this side as well.

If it's little hard to find, just move the snowflake out of the way. When we click on this handle and drag, you'll see a visible handle. This should create a slightly more interesting motion path, and it also drops straighter into position. If you like, go ahead and create a third keyframe, somewhere between the first two, and that will allow you to create an even more complex motion path.

And you can edit that and edit all of the handles till you get a curve that you'd like. As you can see, with three keyframes, I can create a more interesting curve. Let's see what that looks like. There we go. Now, at this point you'll notice that all of the dots look pretty much even. If I wanted to be a little fussier, I'll place the keyframes somewhat in the center. Now in the next lesson, we'll be working with velocity, as well as with the graph editor, so you'll be able to fine- tune your velocity along the curve.

At the end of this lesson, I'd also talk about editing handles and some more keyframe types, but for now, that's close enough for jazz. So I go to RAM Preview and see if there any more changes I'd like to make. Now one change it's very easy to make is to just ease in to the final position. I can select that last keyframe and go under the Animation menu, Keyframe Assistant > Easy Ease. Now when I RAM-preview, you'll see that it drops into position a little softer.

If I want, I can do the same thing with the last keyframe to the title. You'll notice that the shortcut for Keyframe Assistant, Easy Ease is F9. If you're on a Mac, you might want to change Expose so it doesn't use the same shortcut. Now when I RAM-preview you'll notice that both layers softly finished their animation. So I'm pretty happy with my animation. It might be a good time now to do an Increment and Save. In the next movie, we'll show you how to add scale and rotation animation to our snowflake.

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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