After Effects CC Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Importing Illustrator files as compositions


From:

After Effects CC Essential Training

with Ian Robinson

Video: Importing Illustrator files as compositions

It's quite common to want to import illustrator files into your After Effects projects because illustrator creates and works with vector graphics. Vector graphics allow you to scale elements and keep the resolution nice and sharp, but there are a couple different things you need to be aware of when you actually go to import your illustrator project. So to get started I'm actually going to jump to illustrator. Let's browse in our file browser to our exercise files in the footage folder and make sure we go to the O2AI folder which is our Illustrator folder.
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  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 1h 5m
    1. Welcome
      1m 11s
    2. Using the exercise files (CC 2014.1)
      1m 57s
    3. Using the exercise files
      1m 19s
    4. Understanding and managing applications with Creative Cloud (CC 2014.1)
      2m 32s
    5. Which versions of After Effects CC does this course cover? (CC 2014.1)
      1m 40s
    6. Relinking missing footage
      1m 54s
    7. Working with keyboard shortcuts
      1m 23s
    8. Different ways to use After Effects
      59s
    9. Exploring the interface of After Effects (CC 2014.1)
      13m 22s
    10. Exploring the interface of After Effects
      12m 0s
    11. Exploring important preferences, and setting up the cache (CC 2014.1)
      8m 44s
    12. Exploring important preferences and setting up the cache
      6m 20s
    13. Video terminology (CC 2014.1)
      6m 19s
    14. Video terminology
      4m 24s
    15. Updating After Effects with Creative Cloud
      1m 25s
  3. 1h 0m
    1. The six foundations of After Effects
      11m 5s
    2. Understanding compositions
      10m 35s
    3. Creating and manipulating layers
      9m 49s
    4. Building animation
      6m 29s
    5. Working with effects
      7m 5s
    6. Introduction to 3D
      8m 45s
    7. Understanding how to render
      6m 48s
  4. 38m 54s
    1. Importing elements
      5m 53s
    2. Organizing projects
      3m 51s
    3. Building compositions with layers
      6m 17s
    4. Animating with keyframes
      10m 0s
    5. Adding effects and graphics
      8m 7s
    6. Output techniques
      4m 46s
  5. 44m 49s
    1. Exploring composition and project settings
      6m 48s
    2. Importing Photoshop files as compositions
      8m 39s
    3. Importing Illustrator files as compositions
      7m 41s
    4. Viewing files in the comp panel
      4m 42s
    5. Understanding Pre-compose
      4m 21s
    6. Positioning layers with snapping
      4m 55s
    7. Interpreting footage
      4m 0s
    8. Keyboard shortcuts for compositions
      3m 43s
  6. 1h 5m
    1. Defining layers
      5m 4s
    2. Creating type layers
      7m 38s
    3. Precise typesetting techniques
      5m 42s
    4. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      9m 6s
    5. Creating design elements with shape layers
      6m 10s
    6. Layer compositing: Masks, switches, and blend modes
      7m 35s
    7. Using track mattes
      4m 49s
    8. Precise compositing with variable-width feathered masks
      9m 24s
    9. Working smarter by swapping layers
      7m 6s
    10. Keyboard shortcuts for layers
      2m 35s
  7. 1h 35m
    1. Understanding animation
      6m 20s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 52s
    3. Understanding keyframe interpolation (CC 2014.1)
      8m 52s
    4. Understanding keyframe interpolation
      6m 20s
    5. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      8m 26s
    6. The power of parenting
      5m 26s
    7. Using null objects
      6m 46s
    8. Creating expressions with the pick whip
      6m 25s
    9. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      9m 56s
    10. Building complex graphics with Pre-compose
      4m 54s
    11. Preparing audio for animation
      8m 57s
    12. Generating graphics with audio
      9m 13s
    13. Working smarter: Navigating the Timeline
      4m 32s
  8. 58m 59s
    1. Understanding the order of effects
      5m 58s
    2. Generating backgrounds with effects
      5m 33s
    3. Generating a scribble effect
      8m 12s
    4. Animating strokes with effects
      6m 37s
    5. Using adjustment layers
      5m 52s
    6. Adding gradients and glows
      4m 30s
    7. Saving pan and scan presets
      5m 20s
    8. Fixing exposure with Levels
      3m 5s
    9. Fixing color casts with Color Finesse 3
      9m 57s
    10. Masking individual effects
      3m 55s
  9. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding 3D in After Effects
      9m 2s
    2. Intro to cameras (CC 2014.1)
      10m 50s
    3. Intro to cameras
      7m 51s
    4. Intro to lights and material options
      8m 56s
    5. Animating cameras (CC 2014.1)
      11m 11s
    6. Animating cameras
      12m 39s
    7. Creating depth of field
      6m 48s
    8. Exploring the ray-traced 3D renderer
      10m 8s
  10. 3h 40m
    1. Understanding CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects (CC 2014.1)
      1m 53s
    2. Understanding CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects
      1m 32s
    3. 3D foundations (CC 2014.1)
      9m 49s
    4. 3D foundations
      10m 43s
    5. Matching CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects projects (CC 2014.1)
      7m 14s
    6. Matching CINEMA 4D Lite and After Effects projects
      8m 9s
    7. Understanding the CINEMA 4D Lite interface (CC 2014.1)
      9m 49s
    8. Understanding the CINEMA 4D Lite interface
      7m 31s
    9. Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files (CC 2014.1)
      7m 20s
    10. Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files
      7m 28s
    11. Exploring modeling in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      11m 7s
    12. Exploring modeling in CINEMA 4D Lite
      8m 8s
    13. Applying deformers (CC 2014.1)
      4m 50s
    14. Applying deformers
      5m 59s
    15. Understanding materials (CC 2014.1)
      10m 29s
    16. Understanding materials
      7m 32s
    17. Lighting your scene (CC 2014.1)
      11m 20s
    18. Lighting your scene
      8m 14s
    19. Looking at detailed materials
      7m 51s
    20. Working with presets (materials and lights) (CC 2014.1)
      7m 44s
    21. Animating in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      5m 52s
    22. Animating in CINEMA 4D Lite
      6m 51s
    23. Adjusting keyframes in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      7m 42s
    24. Animating cameras in CINEMA 4D Lite (CC 2014.1)
      5m 49s
    25. Animating cameras in CINEMA 4D Lite
      5m 45s
    26. Working with CINEWARE (CC 2014.1)
      8m 11s
    27. Working with CINEWARE
      9m 38s
    28. Render settings and the multipass workflow (CC 2014.1)
      7m 28s
    29. Render settings and the multipass workflow
      8m 38s
  11. 23m 35s
    1. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      4m 45s
    2. Recommended settings for rendering graphics
      10m 21s
    3. Creating presets in the Render Queue
      4m 0s
    4. Prerendering with Import and Replace Usage
      3m 18s
    5. Working smarter: One render, multiple outputs
      1m 11s
  12. 36m 53s
    1. Creating type animators
      8m 52s
    2. Creating and animating type on a path
      5m 32s
    3. Animating shape layers
      8m 45s
    4. Animating brushstrokes with Paint
      5m 54s
    5. Animating text and prepairing templates for use in Premiere Pro (CC 2014.1)
      7m 50s
  13. 23m 31s
    1. Retiming with Time Remapping
      8m 56s
    2. Retiming footage with Timewarp
      9m 10s
    3. Smoothing shaky camera footage with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      5m 25s
  14. 16m 6s
    1. Getting started with Keylight
      8m 43s
    2. Refining your key with Keylight
      3m 42s
    3. Cleaning up keys with masks
      3m 41s
  15. 26m 47s
    1. Rotoscoping with paths
      6m 47s
    2. Introducing the Roto Brush
      5m 58s
    3. Refining the Roto Brush
      6m 12s
    4. Using the Refine Edge tool
      7m 50s
  16. 27m 13s
    1. Creating a single point track
      7m 38s
    2. Applying motion with Warp Stabilizer VFX
      4m 29s
    3. Warp Stabilizer VFX: Reversible Stabilization workflow
      7m 47s
    4. Solving cameras
      7m 19s
  17. 6m 30s
    1. Archiving your projects
      3m 50s
    2. Removing unused footage
      1m 25s
    3. Moving compositions between projects in After Effects
      1m 15s
  18. 2m 24s
    1. What's next?
      2m 24s

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After Effects CC Tutorials | Essential Training
14h 52m Appropriate for all Jun 17, 2013 Updated Nov 03, 2014

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Delve into the world of motion graphics, keying, and compositing in After Effects CC. In this course, Ian Robinson lays out six foundations for becoming proficient with After Effects, including concepts such as layers, keyframe animation, and working with 3D. To help you get up and running with the program, the course begins with a project-based chapter on creating an animated graphic bumper. Next, explore the role layers play in compositions and find out how to add style to your projects using effects and graphic elements. Last, see how to build 3D objects with CINEMA 4D Lite, as well as stabilize footage, solve for 3D cameras, and paint in graphics with the Reverse Stabilization feature.

Topics include:
  • Video terminology
  • Creating your first composition
  • Using layers, masks, blend modes, and track mattes
  • Parenting objects
  • Building complex objects with Pre-compose
  • Exploring the ray-traced 3D renderer
  • Understanding the order of effects
  • Creating 3D projects from Illustrator files
  • Lighting a scene
  • Animating type on a path
  • Using Keylight for green-screen footage
  • Rotoscoping
  • Archiving projects
Subject:
Video
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Ian Robinson

Importing Illustrator files as compositions

It's quite common to want to import illustrator files into your After Effects projects because illustrator creates and works with vector graphics. Vector graphics allow you to scale elements and keep the resolution nice and sharp, but there are a couple different things you need to be aware of when you actually go to import your illustrator project. So to get started I'm actually going to jump to illustrator. Let's browse in our file browser to our exercise files in the footage folder and make sure we go to the O2AI folder which is our Illustrator folder.

In here, I'm going to choose the Determined.ai project. So double click to open inside of Illustrator. If your Illustrator layout doesn't look like this, go up into window, workspace, and choose essentials. Again, if it doesn't quite look like this choose reset essentials and the default setting will set up. Now, if you look to the right side of the interface, the second button from the bottom that looks like two triangles, if you click on that, that's the Layers panel. Now you could also open that under the Window menu and choose Layers. With that open, you'll notice I have one layer. If we turn the visibility off and on, you can see that one layer makes up this funky kind of graphic.

If you click on the little triangle. It'll expand the sublayers within this Illustrator document. Illustrator can support multiple objects on one individual layer. Now the issue with this, if I tried to import this into After Effects, and I wanted to control the text separate from this background graphic element, I couldn't do that. This would actually import as a flattened element. So what I need to do is break this apart, so these two layers are up on the top of this layer hierarchy by themselves. Logic would tell you if you just clicked on one of these and try to drag it up. You could do just that, but notice I get this big no symbol and so of course we need to defy logic.

So in order to do that, let's go ahead and select Layer 1. Just click on the layer. As long as it's highlighted in this blue color, you know you're in the right place. Now, if you go to the upper right corner of the layers panel and click, you could choose Release To Layers Sequence. And that's exactly what I want you to do. So, click Release To Layers Sequence and notice now. We have three seperate layers and they're named layer one layer two layer three. If I click on layer three and then hold down Shift and click on layer two I can then let go of the Shift button and just click and drag. And both layers will move up and I want to move until the layer one actually gets dark grey again, and when I let go those two layers will now be on the top of the layer hierarchy.

Now there's nothing left on layer one, so I can go ahead and delete that by clicking and dragging the layer down to the trash. Now let's rename layer 2 our text layer and just to make sure that it's text turn the visibility off and on. There we go, okay? So we will call this text. You could also call it determined, whatever you like. And layer 3 let's double click and let's call this graphic. Now we're ready to import this into our After Effects project. Now as a general rule of thumb, when I get logos that are sent to me and I need to animate them, I like to actually keep copies of the originals.

So, what I'm going to do is make sure not to save over that, with this. So I'll go under File and choose Save As, and we're going to choose a different name. I'll choose determined and then underscore AE. Now I do that just to label it so I know, hey, it's ready for After Effects import. But notice I'm not changing the file extension, I'm just adding that as a part of the name. Let's go ahead and click save and then make sure in your illustrator options that you have pre PDF compatible file selected. That just makes the interoperability between the applications work a little more smoothly.

Now if we hit OK, we're ready to actually import this into After Effects. Go back into After Effects. To import my illustrator file, I'm just going to double click in my project panel down in this open grey area. With the import file box open. Again, we'll navigate in our exercise files to the footage folder. And this time, we'll go to the AI folder. There's our determined AE file. And under import as, instead of footage. We'll choose composition, retain layer sizes.

Now make sure this option for sequence is deselected and then click open. Now we have the determined AE comp imported and notice its duration is five seconds. the reason the duration is set to five seconds, the last time I created a composition in After Effects. I set it to 5 seconds. And that's set to that frame rate for the exact same reason: The last time they created a composition, it was at 23976. Don't worry if your comp is a little longer. As long as it's at least 5 seconds, you should be good to go.

If your comp settings are way different, you can always press Cmd + K or Ctrl + K on Windows to open and adjust your comp setting accordingly. If we double click our comp, it'll load it in the comp window and the timeline. Now there's one more interesting thing you should do with illustrator files when you want to retain their vector capabilities. And that's Enable Continuously Rasterize. So to do that, I'm going to select Layer 1, our text layer. And if you move to the right of that layer, you'll see this little (UNKNOWN) icon, and then right next to it is this open box.

If you click on it and hold, you can see this switch Is continuously rasterized. Now, if you don't see these switches, you want to go ahead and click this toggle switches and modes button, and make sure that this is the proper mode. Okay, now with continuously rasterize selected, I'm going to press S on my keyboard to open up the scale. If I click and drag, I can go ahead and scale this up, and it stays nice and sharp. Just to give you a contrast, I could disable that option, and as you could see, It's nice and rasterized which isn't at all what we want.

So, let's go ahead and enable continuously rasterize. Now I'm going to pause for a quick second, because I want to explain a potential workflow thing that you should be aware of. So, inside of Photoshop, you can place Illustrator documents as smart objects, and they'll maintain their vector capabilities inside of Photoshop. And yes, After Effects can import layered Photoshop documents. And we did that in a previous video. And the Photoshop document we imported is here in our project panel. Now, I want you to go ahead and double click on the training swoosh Photoshop composition so we can open up the layers panel. Now this swoop lines layer was actually a placed. Illustrator file inside of Photoshop.

I want you to notice there is no option for continuously rasterize. When you have a smart object inside of Photoshop its just that, smart and inside of Photoshop. So when you go to import this into After Effects don't expect that vector nature to actually translate. If you want to bring this in as a vector graphic in and of itself, what you need to do is just import the file as an Illustrator file, and then you'll actually have access to the continuously Rasterized option.

So, as you can see, when it comes to importing illustrator files. It's extraordinarily helpful because they retain their vector layers. You just need to make sure to bop back over into illustrator and make sure that each of the elements are on their own layer if you want to animate each element separately.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects CC Essential Training .


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Q: This course was updated on 6/18/2014. What changed?
A: We added new movies to the "Fundamentals of After Effects" chapter, reorganized and re-recorded the "Up and Running" and "Keying Green Screen Footage" chapters, and added new movies on Color Finesse 3 and masking individual effects.
Q: When I try to open a project file, After Effects tells me I need to update my system, since the file was made with version 13.0. But I already installed the most recent After Effects update. Why can't I open the project?
A: In the latest round of updates, Adobe chose to create a completely new installer for this latest version. While you may have updated the version of After Effects CC you have installed (12.x), there is an entirely new After Effects install for 2014 (13.0). Check for an After Effects CC (2014) item in the Creative Cloud app and download and install it from there. 
 
After you install the new version, you should be able to open 13.0 projects. After Effects CC (2014) will coexist with the older version of After Effects on your machine. If you currently have any shortcuts on your computer to launch After Effects, you may have to go back into the Programs folder and create a new shortcut to the newer version, After Effects 2014.
 
Q: This course was updated on 11/03/2014. What changed?
A: We updated 25 movies to reflect changes to the Creative Cloud 2014 release of After Effects. This includes the new optimized user interface and enhanced Cineware and CINEMA 4D Lite pipeline. The new movies are labeled with the "(CC 2014.1)" tag.
 
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