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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.
Unfortunately a lot of new young designers make the mistake of getting really excited about effects. And start to think yeah, the more effects I put on my project, the better it's going to look. And I have to tell you honestly, sometimes less is more. But what's even better than that is really understanding what you're doing when you're applying effects. In essence, you're solving problems for the graphics that you have. So currently, I've got this kind of interesting graphic here, with these three shapes in the middle and this cool footage of solar panels in the background.
But the problem is the fact that they're fighting so much. I need them to blend together and not literally fight for my attention. So we're going to use effects to blend them together and separate them. So let's get started by treating the background footage. Select the background footage, and I want to show you two things we need to be aware of for this specific project. If we click and drag with our current time indicator, you can see I've got major exposure differences.
Right here at the end, I've got a nice beautiful flare out with lens flares and at the beginning its kind a dark. That's really important to pay attention to. The second thing you want to pay attention to is just the speed in general. So you might want to press zero on your keyboard, and load up a RAM Preview to see what this looks like. Now always remember to look in the upper right corner of your Info window to make sure that you're getting real time playback. And if you're not just kind of understand that when you're checking it out. Okay so the motion of that wasn't too, too fast.
So let's start by selecting our background layer and going up to the Effects pulldown menu. In here, you'll notice we have several groups of effects. Adobe has gone through the process of grouping everything, so they kind of make sense. Sometimes when you're going through these effects, you may get lost and not remember exactly where each one is. I'll show you where to search for that later, but I just want you to understand that they are grouped and yes, you can search for them.
One of the filters I like to use first, when I'm trying to get colorful graphics to blend with something that's not working, I like to go to Color Correction and use the CC Toner. If we select that, notice in the Effects control panel on the left side of your interface, it has a couple of different controls. Right now, it's set to Tritone and basically what its' doing is that it's tinting the Highlights, the Midtones and the Shadows of this image. Obviously if you click on Tritone you could make it Duotone or even five tones or just one Solid.
Now let's just leave it Tritone. And so this matches the background a little more closely. Let's change the midtone color. I'm okay with white at the top and black for the shadows. So if we grab the Eyedropper next to the Midtone color, we can go out into our viewer and sample this blue shape in the middle. Now I've got this kind of cool tint to my scene. This looks pretty decent here, but let's see what it looks like when we go to the overexposed area.
I think that's a little too much blue. So I'm going to adjust this blend with original setting in the toner. If you click and drag up, what this is doing, the higher the number the more of the original footage is going to sneak through. The lower number, the more of the effect is going to take effect. So let's send it around 43 and if we drag back here you can see okay, yeah, it's starting to blend in a little bit more here. Now another thing you can do, is deal with the sharp edges.
See how sharp the edges are of these shapes? See how sharp the lines are of the background? So I want to go to my Effects panel, and actually see if there's a filter I can use to soften the edges of the background video. Sure enough, there's a Blur section and in here, I want to use the Camera Lens Blur. You could use the Fast Blur. It's great, if your system is not so fast. But since we're on a big blazing system here, let's choose the Camera Lens Blur.
I just think this is a little bit more realistic blur. In here, you can make adjustments to make your footage look like it was shot with a real camera, and a real lens. And obviously, it was shot with the real camera. But you can accentuate how that looks by going through some of the different properties. I'll leave the Iris Properties set to Hexagon but just to show you, you can setup all different kinds of Camera Lens Blur. Just so this is little softer.
I'm going to increase the Blur Radius by clicking and dragging out. Let's drag it to around 18. That's significantly softer, but I still want to stylize this a little bit more because in my opinion, these edges are a little flat. So a lot of times, when I'm trying to deal with flatness in an image, I like to go back up under my Effects and apply a glow. A glow creates a distinct style. So I know that it's actually in the Stylize panel.
Now if I didn't know that, I could go over to my Effects & Presets and type Glow, and sure enough under Stylize there's Glow. So to apply this let's just drag and drop it to my background video layer and notice it pops-up in my Effects Control panel. Now you can see some of the highlights starting to pop out in the background video, but it's really not quite exactly what I was looking for. So let's look at some of the Glow options. You should look at your Options from the top down.
So the Glow right now is based on the Color Channels, which is perfect. But we want to adjust the Threshold, which is how sensitive it is to differences in the video footage. Now notice when I drag that down to the left, I'm getting a really cool kind of light beam effect happening through my edges. We could adjust the Radius of this glow to kind of soften it up a bit, which I think would be kind of smart. So let's increase that to 19. And the intensity just makes it that much brighter in the hot areas.
So if we increase that to 27, you can see it's really bright here. I'm going to undo that last change just by pressing Command+Z. The reason being, remember we have this light area at the end of my timeline. So let's move the current time indicator down there and you can see that's really, really bright. So what we need to do is adjust this glow over the length of the composition. In order to do that, we can set two keyframes really, really quickly.
Since the effects are already up in the Effects Control panel, let's just move our current-time indicator all the way to the end of the project and bring the Glow Threshold up a bit. Notice how now it's not glowing out so much. We could also bring the Radius down a little bit, maybe not so much, maybe I will bring it down to 4, and the Intensity, let's take that down to zero. Now it just looks like a bright blurry scene. Unfortunately, I haven't added my keyframes yet.
So we need to just keyframe the Threshold, keyframe the Radius and keyframe the Intensity. Now if we move our current time indicator to the beginning of the project we can bring our Threshold back down, bring the Radius back up and bring the Intensity back up to one. Okay so now if we scrub through our project, you can see it's not getting completely blown out as it moves to the end. But there's one last thing I need to show you.
Move your current-time indicator to around 5:15. Now in here, I want you to pay attention to the background because the layer order is very specific. If we collapse our Glow and collapse our Camera Lens Blur and collapse the CC Toner, in our Effects Control panel, you can see the order in which they're applied. If we change this order, the image is going to look completely different. So let's move the Glow all the way up to the top, and see what happens.
Notice how flat that is? That's because the glow was being applied first and then we did the toner and then we just blurred out something that's relatively flat. So I just want you to understand when you're applying effects the order in which you applied the effects is really important. So let's move our glow right back down to the bottom and reevaluate our scene. As you can see, we've definitely stylized the background so it's not competing as much with the foreground elements. But as we move throughout the rest of this chapter, you'll see some other ways we can stylize things to further integrate our graphics.
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