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After Effects CS6 Essential Training
Illustration by John Hersey

Importing footage and compositions


From:

After Effects CS6 Essential Training

with Ian Robinson

Video: Importing footage and compositions

What does it mean to import a comp? Well I know you might be thinking that doesn't sound right because comps are created from inside of After Effects, right? Well actually, you can create comps as a part of the import process. And when you work with compositions, you'll undoubtedly want to add some footage. After Effects does a pretty good job of guessing the proper settings for each piece of footage imported, but sometimes you'll want or need to change those as well. So let's get started by importing an Illustrator file. One of the great things about After Effects is the fact that it integrates so well with other application files in the Creative Suite, like Photoshop and Illustrator.
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  1. 1m 8s
    1. What is After Effects?
      1m 8s
  2. 2m 53s
    1. Welcome
      1m 40s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 13s
  3. 1h 8m
    1. The six foundations of AE
      5m 3s
    2. Introducing the interface and the workspace
      7m 51s
    3. Understanding compositions
      8m 48s
    4. Getting comfortable with layers
      7m 33s
    5. Getting started with animation and keyframes
      8m 30s
    6. Understanding effects
      3m 26s
    7. Moving in 3D space
      7m 41s
    8. Rendering your first animation
      8m 20s
    9. Specifying preferences and cache settings
      5m 44s
    10. Staying organized
      5m 15s
  4. 38m 6s
    1. Creating compositions
      7m 19s
    2. Importing footage and compositions
      7m 54s
    3. Preparing compositions for animation
      8m 7s
    4. Introducing renderers
      3m 15s
    5. Understanding precomposing
      7m 16s
    6. Relinking missing footage
      4m 15s
  5. 59m 58s
    1. Defining layers
      6m 23s
    2. Creating type
      5m 58s
    3. Creating layer solids and shapes with masks
      7m 55s
    4. Building shape layers
      6m 17s
    5. Understanding switches and blend modes
      8m 26s
    6. Crafting custom shapes and masks
      6m 18s
    7. Creating variable-width feathered masks
      5m 1s
    8. Rotoscoping with the Roto Brush
      8m 20s
    9. Refining with the Roto Brush
      5m 20s
  6. 1h 8m
    1. Understanding keyframes
      6m 1s
    2. Adding and adjusting keyframes
      9m 54s
    3. Interpolating keyframes
      8m 5s
    4. Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
      7m 17s
    5. Understanding positional keyframes
      7m 0s
    6. Controlling animation with parenting and the pick whip
      9m 57s
    7. Understanding animation paths
      6m 27s
    8. Timing to audio
      4m 41s
    9. Trimming and sliding edits
      5m 31s
    10. Swapping images
      4m 1s
  7. 29m 7s
    1. Layering multiple effects
      9m 13s
    2. Generating graphic effects with adjustment layers
      7m 28s
    3. Building backgrounds with effects
      6m 50s
    4. Creating animated strokes
      5m 36s
  8. 40m 15s
    1. Introducing cameras
      10m 3s
    2. Working with 3D layers
      6m 37s
    3. Positioning layers
      6m 13s
    4. Adding lights and working with Material Options
      9m 21s
    5. Using 3D precompositions
      2m 5s
    6. Adjusting depth of field
      5m 56s
  9. 28m 31s
    1. Caching and prerendering
      6m 33s
    2. Understanding the alpha channels
      5m 18s
    3. Using the Render Queue
      4m 34s
    4. Rendering with Adobe Media Encoder
      7m 15s
    5. Archiving finished projects
      4m 51s
  10. 44m 27s
    1. Creating type animators
      12m 16s
    2. Animating type in 3D space
      6m 35s
    3. Adding and animating type on a path
      8m 45s
    4. Composing 3D type
      8m 41s
    5. Animating shape layers
      8m 10s
  11. 32m 45s
    1. Creating stylized video
      6m 47s
    2. Retiming video footage
      9m 31s
    3. Retouching with the Rubber Stamp tool
      10m 19s
    4. Smoothing shaky camera footage
      6m 8s
  12. 14m 19s
    1. Understanding keying
      3m 19s
    2. Creating a garbage mask
      4m 27s
    3. Getting started with Keylight
      6m 33s
  13. 15m 56s
    1. Importing Photoshop documents
      6m 11s
    2. Importing Illustrator files
      4m 24s
    3. Working With Premiere Pro projects
      5m 21s
  14. 1h 15m
    1. Adjusting ray-tracing quality
      8m 19s
    2. Tracking footage
      8m 15s
    3. Extruding shapes
      8m 39s
    4. Bending layers
      8m 38s
    5. Adjusting ray-traced lighting and materials
      9m 22s
    6. Adding environment maps
      4m 58s
    7. Beginning compositing
      8m 52s
    8. Creating render passes
      10m 17s
    9. Building a final composite
      8m 14s
  15. 1m 8s
    1. What's next
      1m 8s

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After Effects CS6 Essential Training
8h 41m Beginner May 07, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, author Ian Robinson introduces Adobe After Effects CS6 and the world of animation, effects, and compositing. Chapter 1 introduces the six foundations of After Effects, which include concepts like layers, keyframes, rendering, and moving in 3D space. The rest of the course expands on these ideas, and shows how to build compositions with layers, perform rotoscoping, animate your composition with keyframes, add effects and transitions, and render and export the finished piece. Two real-world example projects demonstrate keying green screen footage and creating an advanced 3D composition with the expanded 3D toolset, an important addition to CS6.

Topics include:
  • Setting up the workspace, important preferences, and the cache
  • Importing footage and comps
  • Relinking missing footage
  • Creating type, shape layers, and masks
  • Rotoscoping with the Roto Brush
  • Adjusting keyframes in the Graph Editor
  • Timing animations to audio
  • Building backgrounds with effects
  • Rendering with the Render Queue and Adobe Media Encoder
  • Animating 3D type
  • Smoothing shaky footage and retouching footage
  • Keying green screen footage
  • Working with 3D: extruding shapes, adding ray-traced lighting, and more
Subject:
Video
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Ian Robinson

Importing footage and compositions

What does it mean to import a comp? Well I know you might be thinking that doesn't sound right because comps are created from inside of After Effects, right? Well actually, you can create comps as a part of the import process. And when you work with compositions, you'll undoubtedly want to add some footage. After Effects does a pretty good job of guessing the proper settings for each piece of footage imported, but sometimes you'll want or need to change those as well. So let's get started by importing an Illustrator file. One of the great things about After Effects is the fact that it integrates so well with other application files in the Creative Suite, like Photoshop and Illustrator.

So if you go up under File and go down to Import, we can go to File. Now navigate through your browser. I'll navigate to my Footage folder in my Exercise Files folder, in there I have a folder for Illustrator. So if we navigate in there, select the kineteco_02 Illustrator file. Now at the bottom, see where this pops -up and it says Enable All Acceptable Files, leave that at its default. But down here where it says Import As Footage, what we want to do is import as Composition - Retain Layer Sizes.

Now, we'll cover the Retain Layer Size setting in the next video. When you select Open, now you notice we've actually created a comp, and that comp is based on the Illustrator file that we imported. If we double-click this comp, I want you to check out something. First thing, it's only two frames long. Well that's definitely not right. So I'm going to look at what happened here and you'll notice I have this funny icon that looks like little things stacked on top of each other.

And that's because you can actually import still images as image sequences. So I'm going to press Command+Z to undo that import and go back up under File and choose Import > File. Navigate through your folders to your Illustrator folder and choose kineteco_02, choose Import As Composition - Retain Layer Sizes, but deselect this Illustrator/PDF/EPS Sequence. Now when we import this, it's going to import properly at 10 seconds duration and the 24 frame, frame rate we've been using up to this point.

So if we double-click our composition, you can see all of the layers from the Illustrator document have imported and they are in our composition. Now the beautiful thing about this, it maintained the transparency of the Illustrator document. So if you want to see the transparency in the bottom of your Comp panel, go ahead and click this button right here that looks like a checkerboard. If you click on that, that will allow you to see the transparency. So you remember when we're creating comps, you could change the background color. This might be one of those instances where you want to have a slightly different background color.

I personally like working on black, so I'm just going to leave that alone. While we imported this file as a composition, I do want to go ahead and import some video for the background, right? So let's import the video. Instead of going up to File and Import, just double-click anywhere in this section of the Project panel. When I double-click, it will open up the Import File dialog window and we can navigate back to our Footage folder, and under Video, let's open that up and choose the Solar_panels_CU movie.

Notice it's been correctly identified as a QuickTime, and we will import this as Footage. What's interesting is you can import as an entirely different project, but let's just leave it for Footage for now. So when we click Open, notice now the video file has been imported into my After Effects project. So if we want to use this as background video for our project we can do a couple of different things. First thing, if you double-click a video file, notice how it opens up in its own layer window in the comp window.

This is kind of cool because we can preview our video just by pressing the Spacebar. And in the upper right corner of the Info window, you want to watch and see exactly how fast it's playing back. So you can see in this example, it's only playing back--well now it's up to real-time, but you see it kind of bounces back and forth. So if you press the Spacebar and stop playback, notice our current time indicator has moved. If you click this little button that looks like a left bracket in the bottom of the comp window, that will automatically trim the start point of that video to start where your current-time indicator is.

Now we can press the Spacebar again to select more of the video time or I could stop playback and click this little button down here and choose a specific time. Now if I'm not sure exactly what time I want to choose but I know I want to add, let's say, another four seconds to this, I could type +400 and when I click OK, it will move four seconds down the timeline. So now, if I click on this Outpoint button, I've now trimmed this before I've ever added it to my project.

This is a really, really helpful feature when you're trying to integrate video into smaller-linked projects because if you look up in the Project panel, you can see this clip is over a minute, but our comp is only 10 seconds. So now, if I want to add this to my comp, since my current-time indicator is already at zero seconds, I can just drop it in right on top of all the other ones as another layer by clicking this button on the right. Now you can see my video clip has been added to my composition on the topmost layer, and you can see at its outpoint it disappears.

Now obviously, I can extend this outpoint by clicking on the right-hand side and dragging to the end of the comp, and I can use the layer hierarchy by moving it back to the bottom of my Composition window. Now there's one more thing I want to show you about importing video footage and that has to do with how the footage is being interpreted. Now occasionally, you may notice that your video is not playing back exactly properly. Well that's because sometimes After Effects will interpret the video as something that it's not.

Like it might choose the wrong frame rate or an improper field order. So to change that, with your footage selected, just go ahead and Ctrl+Click on the Mac, or right-click and go to Interpret Footage > Main. In here, I have options that I could change. Say, for example, I wanted to play this back at, I don't know, 12 frames a second. I could tell it conform to this frame rate. And it will give me a warning about my audio, but since I'm not worried about audio I don't have to worry about that right now.

You can also do interesting things like use the Start Timecode from the footage. And here under Fields and Pulldown, this is where you can choose whether it's Lower Field First or Upper Field First. Now this really only pertains to interlaced video footage. Down at the bottom here, if the Pixel Aspect Ratio is off, this is where you can change that. I'm going to accept these changes by just pressing Enter on my keypad. Now had I changed the frame rate or something else, it would be listed up here in the Project panel.

So now that we've imported a layered Illustrator file as a composition and added some footage, in the next video we are going to jump into another option that I use quite often, which will allow us to kind of bounce back and forth and change that piece of footage in its own external source, while still allowing it to update back inside of After Effects.

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