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Frame blending

From: After Effects Apprentice 04: Layer Control

Video: Frame blending

We've imported an image sequence and we've changed the frame rate of that sequence to be slower, five frames per second, than the frame rate of the composition we put it into, which is at 29.97 frames per second. So how does After Effects make up the difference between those two frame rates? Well, it's simple. It just has to repeat or skip frames of the source in order to make it fit the frame rate of the composition. As I press Page Down and step one frame at a time through the composition, you'll see the frames of the source are being repeated.

Frame blending

We've imported an image sequence and we've changed the frame rate of that sequence to be slower, five frames per second, than the frame rate of the composition we put it into, which is at 29.97 frames per second. So how does After Effects make up the difference between those two frame rates? Well, it's simple. It just has to repeat or skip frames of the source in order to make it fit the frame rate of the composition. As I press Page Down and step one frame at a time through the composition, you'll see the frames of the source are being repeated.

That's because it's playing back at a slower speed than our comp is being sampled. As I do this you will even see we only get these green RAM preview cache bars where they're unique frames of source material to play. I am going to delete or fade up that we played around with earlier, stretch out the work area to take up more of the resource, and press 0 on the numeric keypad to RAM preview this. You see the result is fairly jerky motion rather than smooth motion. Well, After Effects gives us a couple tools to smooth this out and they're underneath the guise of Frame Blending.

Frame Blending is similar to Motion Blur and that you need to enable it in two places: for the layer and for the composition. For the layer, this little icon that looks like a couple of film frames on top of each other is the column for the Frame Blending switch. As you click once in the Frame Blending box for a given footage item, this means you will be in Frame Mix mode, and I will explain that later. Click again, you will be what's know as Pixel Motion mode, and I'll explain that as well. And click a third time, you're back to Frame Blending being turned off.

I'm going to go into Frame Mix mode for now. Turning on this switch only means that this layer will be Frame Blended when you do the final render. You still will not see frame blending in the Comp panel. The reason is Frame Blending can be somewhat computationally intensive. So to make your previews faster After Effects defaults to not displaying it in the Comp panel. To turn on the display in the Comp panel, you need to turn on this large frame blending switch for the composition.

This is how you preview Frame Blending for any layers that have it enabled. Now you'll see as I press Page Down and step through this footage that we're seeing a mix of frames before and after the most recent frame. This is the Frame Mix mode, which is automatically doing a crossfade between adjacent frames. That's what looks likes a frame at a time. Now I'll press 0 to RAM preview. It takes a moment to calculate, and you'll see this is a smoother motion that we had before.

It's not quite as jerky. Frame Mix mode works great on amorphous objects like clouds, out-of-focus backgrounds, etcetera, but it can be a bit obvious when you sharp edges like these legs. Well, what does the other mode, Pixel Motion, look like? Well, how it looks depends entirely on te source footage. To enable Pixel Motion I'll click one more time underneath the Frame Blending switch column and get this solid bar, which means Pixel Motion. What Pixel Motion tries to do is interpolate every pixel.

It says where was that pixel in the previous frame, where is that pixel in next frame, and try to create a brand-new intermediate positions, tracking the motion of each of those pixels. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn't. In the case of this particular shot where there is not a lot of visual information, you'll see it doesn't work very well as it tries to match up these grids and tries to match up the legs and things that. So this is a case where it's not successful. However, there are other types of footage where it works very well. I'm going to down to our Sources folder, select the Jet Landing footage, drag it onto this New Comp icon and I'm going to slow it down, basically give it a slower frame rate.

I'll open up the Stretch column, slow down to say 500%. Go somewhere later in time where we see more the plane. Now as I press Page Down, in the default mode you'll see again that many of the frames are being repeated. If I turn on Frame Blending, Frame Mix mode for layer and enable it for a composition, you'll see we have some ghosting or echoing going on in the details as we get these intermediate frames. So I will press Page Down again to step through this.

A little bit smoother, but you do see the sort of ghosting motion as the wheels get fat and thin again. Not ideal. So instead I'll click this one more time to go into Pixel Motion mode. Now you'll see the tires have gone skinny again. As I press Page Down, you'll see this actually re-creating the position of the wings of the airplanes, the tires, and everything as if those frames were in the original footage. Pretty darn good, I think. So I continue step through it. Pretty nice, but again it doesn't work well with all footage.

I'll select Jet Landing. Pick another piece of footage, like I will this Musical Instruments. I am going to press Command and Option on Mac, Ctrl and Alt on Windows then the forward slash key to replace that clip, and I am going to go a little bit later in time to where that stick is coming down. Just hit this cymbal and you'll see very strange things happen to the symbol surface. There is not enough information for Pixel Motion to guess what the intermediate frames should look like, because things are just moving too fast. This is a clip where I'd be better off going back to Frame Mix mode.

I'll back up to 16 seconds again, step through this, and at least you get a more gentle fading as opposed to strange warping of the cymbal. So in general Frame Blending is a great tool to use when you've got slowed down or even sped up footage in a Comp, but don't just blindly turn it on. Try the different modes, Frame Mix or Pixel Motion, and see which one works better for that particular piece of source footage.

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This video is part of

Image for After Effects Apprentice 04: Layer Control
After Effects Apprentice 04: Layer Control

38 video lessons · 11976 viewers

Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer
Author

 
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  1. 3m 20s
    1. Overview
      1m 20s
    2. Using the exercise files
      2m 0s
  2. 23m 19s
    1. Stacking and sliding layers
      5m 23s
    2. Trimming layers in the Timeline panel
      5m 45s
    3. Trimming in the Layer panel
      3m 31s
    4. Pre-trimming and inserting layers from the Footage panel
      3m 20s
    5. Slip editing
      5m 20s
  3. 12m 13s
    1. Applying sequence layers to footage
      4m 45s
    2. Using sequence layers with objects
      2m 14s
    3. Example: Sequence layers and photographs
      2m 20s
    4. Creating a new composition using sequence layers
      1m 35s
    5. Understanding the importance of layer order
      1m 19s
  4. 17m 20s
    1. Looping footage
      3m 15s
    2. Importing a sequence of still images
      4m 30s
    3. Using Time Stretch vs. altering frame rates
      3m 23s
    4. Frame blending
      6m 12s
  5. 19m 1s
    1. Overview of blending modes
      7m 5s
    2. Combining modes and effects
      4m 45s
    3. Why apply effects to solids?
      7m 11s
  6. 22m 2s
    1. Using the Effects & Presets panel
      5m 3s
    2. Applying presets
      5m 34s
    3. Working with behaviors
      3m 2s
    4. Creating and saving presets
      8m 23s
  7. 7m 55s
    1. Importing Photoshop files with layer styles
      4m 7s
    2. Applying layer styles inside After Effects
      3m 48s
  8. 9m 27s
    1. Using adjustment layers
      3m 17s
    2. Working with adjustment layers and alpha channels
      3m 14s
    3. Applying a filmic glow treatment
      2m 56s
  9. 6m 50s
    1. Quizzler challenges
      1m 16s
    2. Quizzler solution one: Pyrotechnic composite
      3m 7s
    3. Quizzler solution two: Sequenced fades
      2m 27s
  10. 11m 51s
    1. Idea corner one: Adjustment layer shapes
      1m 55s
    2. Idea corner two: Creating a traveling glass bar
      4m 12s
    3. Idea corner three: Creating sequences from filmstrips
      5m 44s
  11. 27m 23s
    1. Looping footage by crossfading
      5m 20s
    2. Working with effect point paths
      5m 12s
    3. Brainstorming
      7m 19s
    4. Working with pixel aspect ratios
      9m 32s

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