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After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation
Illustration by John Hersey

Enabling motion blur


From:

After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Enabling motion blur

The last two advanced animation techniques I want to talk about is how to make things appear more smooth and how to make things appear more abrupt. Let's start with a smooth one. You might have noticed, as I preview the motions of this butterfly, is sometimes it's moving so fast it appears to strobe around the screen and it can be little hard to watch animations like this. Well, there is an option inside After Effects called Motion Blur, where you can have objects that are moving quickly, be it moving in position, scale or rotation, automatically blur and give streaks that indicates they're moving very quickly.

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After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation
3h 1m Beginner Jan 26, 2011 Updated Nov 12, 2012

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In this course, Chris Meyer helps beginning After Effects artists take their animations to the next level. Chris shows how to refine animations to create elegant, coordinated movements with the minimum number of keyframes—as well as slam-downs, whip pans, and other attention-getters. Additional movies show how to reverse-engineer existing animations, create variations on a theme, and master other parts of the program. Even though this course is designed for beginners, even veterans should learn tricks that many experienced users are unaware of. Chris' friendly running commentary lets you in on his mental process as he works on an animation. 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:
  • Understanding how keyframes work under the hood
  • Controlling the Anchor Point to create more predictable animations
  • Mastering the Graph Editor for the ultimate control over keyframes
  • Animating parameters including motion paths
  • Hand-drawing motion paths to simplify complex movements
  • Applying and tweaking Motion Blur
  • Using Hold keyframes
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Enabling motion blur

The last two advanced animation techniques I want to talk about is how to make things appear more smooth and how to make things appear more abrupt. Let's start with a smooth one. You might have noticed, as I preview the motions of this butterfly, is sometimes it's moving so fast it appears to strobe around the screen and it can be little hard to watch animations like this. Well, there is an option inside After Effects called Motion Blur, where you can have objects that are moving quickly, be it moving in position, scale or rotation, automatically blur and give streaks that indicates they're moving very quickly.

So in fact, what you're used to seeing when you videotape or film something. Now as we look at the motion path for this butterfly, remember that this spacing between the dots along motion path indicates how far that butterfly is moving in every frame of our animation. That's quite a large gap. We can use Motion Blur to help smooth the way the layer is drawn from dot to dot. To see the results in Motion Blur, you actually need to perform two steps. You need to enable it for the layer and enable it for the composition.

First let's work on the layer. Calculating Motion Blur does require additional computing power, therefore, it defaults to off on all layers in After Effects. However, in the Timeline panel you'll see this Motion Blur switch. It looks like an echoed series of dots. To enable Motion Blur for a layer, you need to turn on the switch underneath that column. So for this butterfly I will turn on the Motion Blur switch for that layer. But you might say, hey, nothings changed yet.

Well, there are a couple of reasons. One, enabling Motion Blur for layer only tells After Effects to render at this layer with Motion Blur. It does not yet tell it to preview it in the current Comp panel with Motion Blur. To do that, you then need to also enable the Motion Blur switch for the entire composition. As opposed to a render setting, this is a preview setting. It only affects what you see in this Comp panel, and this switch has no effect on your final render.

I am going to turn it on, and you say, "Well, heck, I still haven't seen anything yet, Chris!" Well, the object actually needs to be moving, where beyond the last keyframe the butterfly is no longer moving and that's why no Motion Blur has been calculated. Motion Blur is not just an effect that just throws on streaks in any layer. It's calculated depending on the speed of motion and transformations for layer. So just start backing up over those keyframe. You'll see this butterfly gradually become more and more blurred depending on how fast it's moving in the animation.

So I get to point back here around these terms and you can really see a lot of blurring in the butterfly's wings. The important thing to note again is this is not just an effect that is doing a linear blur on the butterfly. Let's get him back around a tight bend, which I think was like around here. Note that the outer wing, which is traveling farther and faster, is more blurred than the inner wing, which is not turning nearly as quickly because it's on the inside of this turn. Also notice that the blur is indeed curved to follow the motion path.

The way the Motion Blur works is that After Effects is actually rendering multiple copies of this layer at various points along the path in between those frame dots. So what you're seeing is a composite of multiple copies of this image on top of each other. It moves the layer just a little bit, depending on how fast it's moving from frame to frame, renders a new image, moves it a little bit more, renders a new image, composites those together for you, and that's what creates this blurred effect.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects Apprentice 03: Advanced Animation.


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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:

Q: This course was updated on 11/09/2012. What changed?
A: We have updated the movie dealing with Time Display to be applicable to working with different versions of After Effects (from CS4 to CS6). We also added a movie that shows our premium subscribers how to use the exercise files, including the new exercise files designed for After Effects CS6.
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