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In this installment of After Effects Apprentice, Chris Meyer focuses on ways to edit and enhance layers in After Effects. Through a series of Quizzler challenges and Idea Corner examples, Chris shares alternative ways to employ modes, sequencing, and adjustment layers, while special sidebar movies cover the subjects of creating seamless loops, animating effects points, understanding pixel aspect ratios, and employing Brainstorm to explore the variety of different looks that effects can create. The course also covers tricks for enhancing boring footage and tips for converting scans into moving sequences. 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®.
Earlier in this lesson you used this sequence of Muybridge images. Muybridge is a person who did a lot of photography of people and animals in motion to see how they moved. I am going to press Page Down and step through the frames of this. The way we created this sequence is we took a series of 10 individual stills, then had After Effects import them and string them together as if they were a continuous movie. The question is how did I create the sequence in the first place? I want to show you that. I am going to select my Sources folder, do a Command+I or Ctrl+I to import, and select a couple of scans I made.
I am going to make sure Sequences is disabled because I want the individual images. Click Open. Dover Books has a wonderful publication called The Human Figure in Motion by Eadweard Muybridge. And here are a couple of scans from that book. You see that the book presents the Muybridge images as continuous panels, not as individual frames of animation. So what we did is we took one of these panels, created a new composition out of it, and said how can we start sequencing this inside a comp, so that we can have as an output a series of individual frames that we could then make a movie out of? Well the first thing to do is make sure that the scan is squared away and it actually looks like a tilts a little bit here.
To be sure, I am going to go ahead and turn of on the rulers, pull down a guide, and see how things change across this image. And I indeed see that I've got some very slight rotation going on in this image. Let's pick a nice clear line like that one. I am going to press R to reveal rotation and I am going to hold Command on Mac, Ctrl on Windows to scrub by very tiny amounts, something as small as just couple tenths of a degree. Looks like it's enough to maybe square way this image.
Looks like it could use a touch less. I am going to type in 0.3 instead. And see how that looks. That seems to hold up pretty well. So I am happy with that. The next I am going to do is trim my composition to be the size of just one of these images. To do that I am going to first position the top of it so that it's up against the top left corner of my comp, back around there. If I like I can zoom in a little bit here. Press spacebar to get the hand and drag it around to make sure I am where I want to be.
Be it a little bit left and up a little bit. OK. Scale down, reposition. If you now want to measure the size of one frame. To do that I am going to make sure my Info panel is open. I can even drag it closer to my comp panel so I can see what's going on. Then place the cursor over what would be at the lower right corner of one of these frames. And I am seeing I am measuring very roughly 400 by 806. OK. That'll be my composition size.
So I'll go to Composition > Composition Settings. If I just type in these numbers, 400 wide, 806 tall, the composition defaults to cropping down to the center of the previous image area. However, underneath the Advanced tab, you can decide how to justify your cropping. Since I was working in the upper left corner, I'll choose that option. And you see now it has just the one cell that I was working on in the upper left corner. Click OK. I have my starting frame. The next thing I want to do is sequence these images.
To do that, I'll press P to reveal position, turn on the animation stopwatch for Position, and immediately convert it to a Hold keyframe. I know that I will want to be stepping from image to image rather than animating or interpolating across. So I'll turn this on right away and now all my keyframes from here on out will be Hold keyframes. Press Page Down to step forward a frame. And then I am going to start eyeballing this. So I am going to start dragging the layer and add the Shift key to constrain movement. And try to drag him into roughly the same position.
The question is what is exactly the right position? I don't know. So why don't we use a guide for this? I will go ahead and pull out a guide, and say let's pick roughly the center of this comp, 200 pixels, and try to center some feature of him, such as maybe this dark area under his neck, on that center line. Now I start to drag, put that there. I'll Page Up to go to my previous frame and say I need to do a little bit of adjustment to put it there. OK. Now it's holding pretty much the same relative position in the frame, from frame to frame.
Step down to my third frame. Start to drag, add Shift, and then just drag until my guide bisects that little neck mark I was looking at as my guide. Good, he is in same position. One more. So dragging, add Shift to constrain, lin eup. Check my work. Page Down one more time. Drag, shift, Align.
There's my sequence. Now all I need to do is add my other scan to the composition and do the same thing with that. And now I can render this out as a movie I can loop over and over again. So I just wanted to give you some insight on how we use raw materials such as a scan from this Muybridge book and convert it into an element we could use inside After Effects.
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