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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®.
Not all source footage comes in the form of a movie where all of the individual frames, which are supposed to be played one after another, are bundled together in one file. Sometimes you'll get what's known as a still image sequence, a series of individual still images or frames which you need to assemble one after another into a continuous movie. Well, After Effects can do that for you automatically. But before you do that, you need to set up a preference. I am going to go to Preferences in After Effects, and go to Import, and there's an item here for Sequence Footage.
What frame rate to assign by default to any sequences of still images that you import. It defaults to 30, which is rare to use for anything. If I was in a PAL video country, I would make it a 25. Since I am in an NTSC country, I'll enter 29.97. Don't fret this too much. You can change this after the fact for each sequence whenever you like. So it's nice to setup a default ahead of time that makes sense for the project you're working on. I'll click OK. Next I'll select what folder I want them to go into.
In this case I want them to go into My Sources, and I'll do Command+I or Ctrl+I to import. Navigate to a folder of still images that you want to import as a sequence. It's best if they're consecutively numbered. Otherwise, After Effects won't know what to do with the gaps in between the numbers. If you have Exercise Files that came with this lesson, we've provided a sequence of images inside Exercise Files, Sources, Muybridge Sequence. As soon as I select any one of these files, an additional option will become available in After Effects: whether or not to treat it as a sequence.
Keep an eye out for this checkbox, because sometimes you might might need to only import a single image. But if they're consecutively numbered, After Effects will say, "Maybe there's supposed to be a sequence. Maybe I should treat them as footage." If you don't want that, turn this off. But if you do want that, turn it on. I'll select one of my files, click Open, and it'll be imported into the folder I selected. You'll notice that even though there were 10 files, it creates 1 file in After Effects, followed by the image numbers included in that sequence. When I look at the top my Project panel, I can see file size, the duration, 10 frames, since there were 10 images, and my default frame rate.
Now 10 frames is kind of short for any movie. So if I want to repeat that, it's very simple. I'll open up the Interpret Footage dialog we discussed in the last movie. And I'll set the loop to something very large, such as 100 times. Now you see my duration has changed to 33 seconds and 10 frames, which is good and long. If I want to create a comp, I'll just drag that sequence onto the New Comp icon and now I've got my sequence. And as I step through these one at a time using Page Down, each of the individual still images that were on my drive have been put together for me automatically one after another into the sequence.
Since I've set it to loop, once it's gone past the 10th file, it started repeating the sequence over again. Pretty cool! Let's set up a small RAM preview, maybe about 3 seconds worth. Press N to end my work area, zero to RAM preview. This is a really brisk walk sequence. This is because we're using one file every frame at 29.97 frames a second. Pretty brisk pace.
If you want to slow this down, go back to your source file and click on the Interpret Footage button at the bottom of the Project panel. And let's slow down the frame rate to maybe something like only 10 frames a second. Click OK. Show the RAM preview. And this is a more sedate workable pace. You can go ahead and make this whatever frame rate you want. Since you've set that frame rate in the Interpret Footage dialog, every time you use this piece of footage in a project, it will use this frame rate, this number of times to be looped.
If you want to use the same sequence multiple times inside this comp, but at different rates, here's a couple different tricks and I'll discuss that in the next movie.
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