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After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics
Illustration by John Hersey

Intro to lighting techniques


From:

After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics

with Ian Robinson

Video: Intro to lighting techniques

If you're joining me from the last video, this scene probably looks pretty familiar. But if it's new to you, check it out. We've got a ground plane, our ALL Winter text in three-dimensional space, and then we have a point light which is just kind of tinting the scene a little bit yellow, and then we have a parallel light which is helping illuminate the scene overall just a little bit from the back, and then the spotlight, which is our primary light. There are some features that a lot of people tend to gloss over or miss when they first get started, and I want to just sort of bring those to light here in this video about lighting techniques, because you need to know these little, fine details if you want to take your designs to the next level.
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  1. 3m 37s
    1. Welcome
      1m 1s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 4s
    3. Defining motion graphics
      1m 32s
  2. 11m 11s
    1. Workflow for creating motion graphics
      5m 7s
    2. Organizing projects for motion graphics
      4m 25s
    3. Defining a motion graphics "package"
      1m 39s
  3. 12m 58s
    1. Collecting visual inspiration
      2m 14s
    2. Listening to imagine
      3m 20s
    3. Creating elements for inspiration
      7m 24s
  4. 33m 4s
    1. Essential theories of typography
      6m 34s
    2. Understanding shortcuts for setting type in AE
      7m 27s
    3. Converting type from Photoshop
      5m 51s
    4. Importing type from illustrator
      9m 44s
    5. Creating shapes from text
      3m 28s
  5. 36m 30s
    1. Understanding the role of timing in motion graphics
      8m 1s
    2. Creating and using markers
      7m 58s
    3. Creating animation with markers
      5m 16s
    4. Using audio to create animated graphics
      5m 47s
    5. Editing techniques for graphics and video
      9m 28s
  6. 49m 27s
    1. Understanding different kinds of type in After Effects
      15m 53s
    2. Using animators with type
      7m 59s
    3. Using type presets
      7m 35s
    4. Creating custom type presets
      4m 35s
    5. Animating paragraph type
      13m 25s
  7. 45m 51s
    1. Exploring the use of color in motion graphics
      10m 40s
    2. Creating and using color palettes
      13m 45s
    3. Exploring color correction tools in AE
      6m 46s
    4. Advanced correction with Color Finesse
      8m 30s
    5. Creating custom color presets
      6m 10s
  8. 59m 6s
    1. Exploring textures in motion graphics
      8m 30s
    2. Building an animated background texture
      16m 48s
    3. Creating textures for type
      10m 19s
    4. Animating seamless textures
      15m 1s
    5. Creating custom vignettes
      8m 28s
  9. 38m 25s
    1. Understanding lighting in After Effects
      12m 57s
    2. Intro to lighting techniques
      5m 17s
    3. Using material settings to enhance lighting
      7m 36s
    4. Adding polish to a light setup
      12m 35s
  10. 50m 32s
    1. Animating swoops and swooshes
      12m 37s
    2. Creating repeating light trails with the Vegas effect
      6m 28s
    3. Repeating patterns with shape layers
      8m 11s
    4. Exploring graphic transitions
      10m 37s
    5. Exploring video transitions
      5m 16s
    6. Adding dynamic elements to a video transition
      7m 23s
  11. 22m 23s
    1. Working in 3D
      8m 36s
    2. Rigging cameras for animation
      8m 45s
    3. Working with depth of field
      5m 2s
  12. 50m 54s
    1. Creating storyboards in After Effects
      10m 20s
    2. Creating an animatic
      18m 14s
    3. Polishing the animation and timing
      8m 45s
    4. Applying the final effects
      13m 35s
  13. 47m 53s
    1. Preparing a map for animation
      7m 59s
    2. Animating and styling a map
      8m 24s
    3. Designing a lower-third graphic
      8m 22s
    4. Adding animation to the lower-third graphic
      9m 10s
    5. Creating bumper animations
      13m 58s
  14. 14m 17s
    1. Defining the toolkit
      2m 2s
    2. Preparing templates
      7m 12s
    3. Creating a style guide
      5m 3s
  15. 1m 3s
    1. Next Steps
      1m 3s

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After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics
7h 57m Intermediate Feb 09, 2011

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics with Ian Robinson covers some of the core principles used to create motion graphics, breaking them down into smaller groups of applied techniques in After Effects. The course explores everything from gathering inspiration to integrating traditional typography, transitional elements, animated textures, color, and more into motion graphics. Instructions for building a toolkit with templates and a style guide for future projects are also included. Exercise files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Converting type from Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Creating shapes from text
  • Using markers in animation
  • Editing techniques for graphics
  • Using type presets
  • Animating type
  • Exploring color correction tools
  • Building animated textures
  • Creating custom vignettes
  • Understanding Lights and Material settings
  • Adding dynamic transitions
  • Rigging cameras for animation
  • Working efficiently in 3D space
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Ian Robinson

Intro to lighting techniques

If you're joining me from the last video, this scene probably looks pretty familiar. But if it's new to you, check it out. We've got a ground plane, our ALL Winter text in three-dimensional space, and then we have a point light which is just kind of tinting the scene a little bit yellow, and then we have a parallel light which is helping illuminate the scene overall just a little bit from the back, and then the spotlight, which is our primary light. There are some features that a lot of people tend to gloss over or miss when they first get started, and I want to just sort of bring those to light here in this video about lighting techniques, because you need to know these little, fine details if you want to take your designs to the next level.

So the first thing I want to explain is the shadow depth. Right now, if we grab our Orbit Around tool, and orbit around to the back side of the type, as you can see here--here let me zoom in to 100%--the shadows look pretty good. Our type layer is sitting right on the ground. It's just right there on the ground. But if we go to Composition > Comp Settings, under the Advanced tab, under the Rendering Plug-in for Advanced 3D, you want to click on the Options button.

Now by default the Shadow Map Resolution is set to the comp size of your project. Let's first change that to 250. Now since our project is 1280 x 720, this is going to bring the Shadow Map Resolution down. When we look at the scene, all I have do is press OK, and you can see I've got kind of a light leak underneath the layer here, and that's because the shadow map doesn't have very much detail. You might be thinking yourself, why in the heck would I want to give myself less detail? Well if you've got a really complicated scene with a whole bunch of shadows and you know it looks perfectly fine for your one frame of high-res render that you did for reference, then if you're just trying to preview an animation, go ahead and change your shadow maps way, way down to 250. Then do your renders.

That way you'll see whether shadows are supposed to be falling, but you're not wasting extra time waiting for a full-res render when the animation hasn't been approved yet. So back under our Comp Settings, let's go to Options and change this. Just so you can see it, we'll change it up to 4000. Now, obviously that would increase render time significantly, but once we go ahead and do that, now look at how sharp and crisp that shadow is. It's almost too crisp. See how I'm getting some of the jaggies there just because of the jaggedness of the type.

We'll go ahead and just change our Options right back to the comp size, but I wanted you to see that feature because it is kind of important when you're trying to just get that little extra bit of detail. The next thing I want to show you is quite a lot of fun, and it has to do with the fact that a lot of times when you create lights, you may want a light to illuminate some things in the scene but not other things. So if I zoom back out here, you can see our scene, and right now we have our spotlight that's illuminating the entire scene and then our point light is just kind of giving this slight yellow cast. Okay.

Well, let's say I want my point light to only affect the type, but I don't want it to affect the ground. Things are going to look really strange here, but what I want you do in the point layer is go over to the adjustment check box, and what this does is it changes this point light into an adjustment layer. Let's go ahead and click on that. Since it's an adjustment layer and everything in the scene is below the point light, it's still affecting everything in the scene.

But what I want it to do is affect just the type, not the ground. So this is going to look weird, but I'm going to grab the type layer and drag it below the ground. Traditionally, when you render things in After Effects and that sort of thing, I'm sure you're probably used to the traditional Photoshop workflow where--you know, whatever is on the layer above is always shown visibly above the previous layer. But since we're in three- dimensional space, this really doesn't matter. Now when we drag our point light down underneath the ground layer but above the type layer, look at what happens.

Boom, as I toggle the visibility of the point layer on and off, you can see we've just added a nice highlight to the text, but haven't affected the ground layer at all. So to further illustrate my point, let's go ahead and change the spotlight into an adjustment layer as well. Go ahead and drag the spotlight down below the ground plane and check it out. It's still illuminating the type. If we open up the options for the light by pressing AA, we can adjust the Cone Angle. As you can see, I still have my spot- light illuminating the type, but it's not illuminating the ground.

Now obviously, I can just turn that right back off, and we're back to where we started. But again, I just wanted you to know how you can isolate each individual light in the scene. Let's move the spotlight back up. And so as you can see, we've added a lot more detail to the scene just by looking at some of the finer points of using lights with adjustment layers, as well as adjusting our shadow maps under the Advanced Comp settings.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects: Principles of Motion Graphics.


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Q: How do I transition from one piece of animated type to another in After Effects?
A: There isn't an effect that can create these types of transitions. It's really a matter of animating the type and camera, using basic keyframing and positioning.
 
If you understand the basics of moving the anchor point of a type layer, animating the parameters of that layer (Scale, Rotation, Position, etc.) and then separately animating the camera around the type layers, you can achieve different types of transitions.  Check out the following videos for more information:

 
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