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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.
I honestly think way too many designers overlook, or just simply underrate, simplicity. Sometimes the power of something as simple as a jump cut can really add that spark into your graphics projects. Rather than always trying to create extraordinarily complex graphics builds, it pays to step back, take a breath, and look at some simple solutions for your animations. In this project, we want to interject some "funky" into this title animation. Now I know that term is open to interpretation, but a lot of times, I can achieve some interesting effects just by adding a couple of jump cuts into the render.
Building this title open took a little bit of time, and don't worry; we are definitely going to do that later in the title. But for now, I want to show you how you can pre-render a title open, and even if you're not 100% satisfied with it, a lot of times if you utilize the editing features within After Effects, you can actually create something that is very powerful with very little effort. So let's go ahead and look at what we've got. First thing, make sure you select the Title_Open264 video in the upper-left corner of your Project panel, because I want you to notice one thing.
If we go up under the Project Settings, notice under Millions of Colors, it says H.264. That's the codec, and the reason I chose H.264 was just because it saves a ton of file space for those of us who want to download the project files. It also saves plenty of space on the DVD. Now, typically when I'm pre-rendering a graphic element, I wouldn't render it to H.264. It's not a very forgiving codec, as far as being able to manipulate things around. But for this instance, it's going to work perfectly fine, because we are just going to add a couple of different jump cuts and some basic editing effects.
So to get started, let's look at our animation. I am going to move my playhead back to the beginning and load up a RAM preview. (video playing) Okay, so at the beginning here, I think things are a little slow developing, so I'd like to add an interesting kind of jump cut in here. Now, I can try and duplicate this later and do a bunch of different edits right here in the Timeline, but if you go to the Project pane and double-click a video file, it'll open up in the Footage window here, and you notice there are some editing tools.
Now, if you want to check out the playback of your file, go ahead and press the Spacebar and it will play back. It's not playing in the audio, but that's perfectly fine. I just want to choose a smaller section of this video file, like right about here, I want to make this my in point. So I could press Alt+Left Bracket or Option+Left Bracket on my keyboard, but there's this button right here. What this does, it sets the in point to the current time. Let's go ahead and press the Spacebar and hit the Spacebar again to stop.
Now, if we press this out button, you notice we only have this one section of video that's highlighted in white. That's the section that'll be dropped into my Timeline when I'm ready to use one of these buttons over here. Now, there are two buttons you can choose, and just to make sure I know exactly where I am in the Timeline, I am just going to jump back to the Comp window here and just sort of scroll around and make sure everything is okay. Now since I am using the same piece of footage in the Footage pane, it's a little confusing as to where things are, but that's okay.
When we go ahead and apply this ripple insert edit, let's see what happens. Check it out. When you do a ripple insert, After Effects actually splits the layer that's already in your After Effects comp and moves down the second portion of that layer. Now, the section that we had highlighted in our Footage window is the section that got edited here on layer 1. So let's move our playhead back to the beginning and check out another RAM preview, so we can see the effects of our edit.
(video playing) Okay, that's not quite what I was looking for, but I think you've got a clear idea as to what happens when you do an insert edit. So let's just undo that last edit. Then we will go back to the Footage window here. Instead of doing an insert edit, let's just do a simple overlay edit. Overlay obviously just overlays that piece of video right over our first background layer.
Now, just so we don't get conflicting audio happening, let's turn off the audio in layer 1. Now, this one continuous layer is always going to have this one continuous audio track. Now, if we go ahead and scrub our playhead here, we can get a good idea as to what's going on. I get this interesting kind of jittery effect, because you know, obviously these things aren't lining up at 100%. Now, if you want to choose a different section of the video, if you move your cursor to the left or right side of the selected area here in the Timeline, notice you get these two bars with the arrows on it.
Those bars are letting you know you can slip or slide the footage and still maintain the same edit point. So I am just going to side this back so when the jump cut happens, it's a little bit more dramatic. Now, I don't want the exact same thing to happen; I'd like this layer to actually jitter in reverse. So if you go ahead and control or right- click directly on the layer, you can go up under Time and just choose Time-Reverse Layer. Now even though the layer is in reverse, it still kept the same section chosen, so this is kind of nice.
Let's go ahead and load up our RAM preview here one more time, and we can see the effects of our edit. (video playing) Okay, so that was a little too long, so just click on the right-hand side of layer 1 and drag it back to the left. I just want a little bit of a stutter here. Again, let's load up a RAM preview and check it out. (video playing) So to continue layering effects, all I am going to do is just double-click the same video file again and choose a different section to use for this next edit.
So again, right after here, I want to add some more interest in our Timeline. So I will mark an in point and go down here and mark an out point, and you notice something happened. Well, if you double-click the same piece of footage and load it up into the Footage window, it does remember the last time you loaded up the footage. So sometimes what you will have to do is just move the in point or the out point further down the Timeline, so when you go ahead and use these buttons again, the footage will be trimmed at the proper length. So I like this.
Let's go ahead and just do an overlay edit. And now if we scrub in the Timeline, you will notice again I am getting the same kind of stuttering. I want to slide this way forwards in the Timeline, and I'll trim that down again. And just so we don't have to keep going back to the Footage window, we can go ahead and just duplicate a layer here in the Timeline and slide the layer down. And again, if you want to choose a different section, just go ahead and click and drag outside of your in and out point and that will allow you to slide the footage.
Now, I want to slightly different length through the second jump, so there we go. Now, let's go ahead and preview what we've got. (video playing) And obviously, we forgot to turn the audio off on those other layers. So let's look at it one more time. (video playing) So I am kind of liking the direction this is headed in.
I am going to keep adding some edits, but if you hold on, through the magic of video you'll see a quick cross dissolve, and we'll pick up with the fully edited piece here in just a minute. Okay, so we're back. Let's scroll up and down the Timeline here, and you can see I've added a couple of more edits into my Timeline, and I definitely repositioned some of the timing of our previous edits. So let's go ahead and check out our preview to see how it turned out. (video playing) So, I really like that.
Now, obviously the amount of jitter and the effects that you are choosing is total personal preference, but if you want to take it up another notch, think about adding some filters or effects or even layer masks to the different layers that you've edited into your piece. Well to be honest, I think I let the cat out of the bag with that one a little bit. I mean, editing graphics as video is really one of my favorite simple tricks whenever I have a client that's looking at the open and they just think it needs a little something else.
So the next time you have a project with a quick turnaround, step back and think about taking a more simplistic approach. Try editing your graphics as video.
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