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Modifying shape layers


After Effects CS5 Essential Training

with Chad Perkins

Video: Modifying shape layers

This is where shape layers start to get really fun. We're basically continuing where I left off in the last movie where I had this star. I got rid of that nasty blue stroke though and added this pretty little gradient in the inside. What we're going to do is make this look a little bit more flowery. Right now it's not blending in with the rest of this ensemble, so we're going to remedy that. Oh, by the way, if you click here with this object selected and then this will give you the Fill and the Stroke options and then we click in our Gradient Editor. And I'm just going to go ahead and hit OK.
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  1. 5m 40s
    1. Introduction
      1m 30s
    2. What is After Effects?
      3m 12s
    3. How to use the exercise files
  2. 28m 14s
    1. After Effects workflow overview
      2m 18s
    2. Bringing elements into After Effects
      2m 23s
    3. Adding elements to the Timeline
      1m 57s
    4. Working with layers
      3m 45s
    5. Creating animation with presets
      3m 24s
    6. Applying effects
      3m 34s
    7. Creating animation without presets
      5m 38s
    8. Previewing your work
      2m 46s
    9. Exporting content as a movie file
      2m 29s
  3. 27m 20s
    1. Touring the interface
      6m 2s
    2. How After Effects projects work
      4m 47s
    3. What is a composition?
      4m 52s
    4. Tips for adding content to compositions
      2m 49s
    5. Understanding the properties of video
      8m 50s
  4. 57m 8s
    1. Importing an Illustrator file
      4m 57s
    2. Animation basics
      7m 12s
    3. Animating opacity
      6m 40s
    4. Understanding anchor points
      4m 57s
    5. Animating position
      6m 8s
    6. Animating rotation
      4m 41s
    7. Animating scale
      7m 19s
    8. Using the Puppet tool
      7m 13s
    9. Copying and pasting keyframes
      3m 4s
    10. Animation shortcuts
      4m 57s
  5. 9m 42s
    1. Understanding precomposing
      6m 51s
    2. Navigating through compositions quickly
      2m 51s
  6. 1h 12m
    1. A showcase of effects
      2m 34s
    2. Creating a layer for effects
      3m 1s
    3. Applying effects
      4m 54s
    4. Animating effect properties
      4m 29s
    5. Using Glow
      5m 34s
    6. Creating patterns and textures
      6m 57s
    7. Creating a fireball
      7m 9s
    8. Using the Cycore effects
      5m 58s
    9. Adding blur
      5m 45s
    10. Creating a galaxy scene from scratch
      8m 38s
    11. Distorting objects with effects
      4m 7s
    12. Creating and using lens flares
      4m 21s
    13. Creating lightning bolts
      4m 3s
    14. Viewing random variations with Brainstorm
      4m 39s
  7. 30m 52s
    1. Shortening the duration of layers
      4m 23s
    2. Trimming in the Footage panel
      4m 14s
    3. Slowing and accelerating video speed
      7m 9s
    4. Applying video transitions between clips
      6m 7s
    5. Working with image sequences
      4m 47s
    6. Importing footage with an alpha channel
      4m 12s
  8. 36m 11s
    1. Brightening dark footage
      9m 12s
    2. Changing colors in footage
      6m 34s
    3. Creating cinematic color treatments
      8m 17s
    4. Creating a quick vignette
      3m 42s
    5. Colorizing black-and-white objects
      4m 50s
    6. Using adjustment layers
      3m 36s
  9. 21m 9s
    1. Creating and editing text
      7m 39s
    2. Applying text animation presets
      4m 41s
    3. Animating text manually
      4m 43s
    4. Applying layer styles to text
      4m 6s
  10. 28m 58s
    1. Let's get better
    2. Using work areas
      3m 37s
    3. Creating markers
      6m 17s
    4. Replacing layers
      2m 35s
    5. Mastering Timeline navigation
      3m 18s
    6. Aligning and distributing layers
      3m 4s
    7. Selecting layers quickly
      1m 56s
    8. Cropping layers
      3m 43s
    9. Adjusting comp resolution
      3m 51s
  11. 23m 53s
    1. Using the paint tools
      9m 35s
    2. Using the Roto Brush tool
      9m 25s
    3. Animating growing vines
      4m 53s
  12. 40m 29s
    1. Creating and using masks
      6m 42s
    2. Exploring mask options
      7m 57s
    3. Creating masks with Auto-trace
      6m 51s
    4. Masking objects with other objects
      5m 33s
    5. Making shape layers
      3m 43s
    6. Modifying shape layers
      9m 43s
  13. 30m 44s
    1. Turning 2D layers into 3D layers
      9m 22s
    2. Creating lights and cameras
      6m 14s
    3. Creating shadows
      4m 23s
    4. Using depth of field
      4m 42s
    5. Working with 3D effects
      6m 3s
  14. 18m 10s
    1. Removing a green screen background
      4m 37s
    2. Refining the matte
      4m 48s
    3. Compositing with color adjustments
      4m 50s
    4. Compositing with blend modes
      3m 55s
  15. 25m 44s
    1. Understanding spatial interpolation
      2m 5s
    2. Creating and adjusting motion paths
      3m 55s
    3. Orienting moving objects along a path
      1m 29s
    4. Drawing motion with Motion Sketch
      2m 51s
    5. Creating pauses in animation
      3m 6s
    6. Understanding temporal interpolation
      1m 56s
    7. Easing keyframes
      5m 57s
    8. About the Graph Editor
      4m 25s
  16. 12m 13s
    1. Stabilizing shaky footage
      7m 46s
    2. Tracking the motion in footage
      4m 27s
  17. 24m 58s
    1. Setting up parent layers
      5m 49s
    2. Working with null objects
      2m 31s
    3. What are expressions?
      7m 17s
    4. Modifying simple expressions
      2m 20s
    5. Using the wiggle expression
      7m 1s
  18. 6m 52s
    1. Understanding audio in motion graphics
      1m 22s
    2. Previewing and mixing audio
      3m 55s
    3. Enhancing audio tracks with effects
      1m 35s
  19. 11m 36s
    1. Adding comps to the Render Queue
      2m 30s
    2. Exploring key Render Queue settings
      4m 11s
    3. How should I export my video?
      4m 55s
  20. 7m 16s
    1. Using Photoshop with After Effects
      2m 10s
    2. Using Illustrator with After Effects
      3m 2s
    3. Using Flash with After Effects
      2m 4s
  21. 11s
    1. Goodbye

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Watch the Online Video Course After Effects CS5 Essential Training
8h 39m Beginner Apr 30, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In After Effects CS5 Essential Training, author Chad Perkins discusses the basic tools, effects, and need-to-know techniques in Adobe After Effects CS5, the professional standard for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects for video. The course provides an overview of the entire workflow, from import to export, as well as detailed coverage of each stage, including animating text and artwork, adding effects to compositions, working in 3D, and rendering and compressing footage. Exercise files are included with the course.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the After Effects workflow
  • Precomposing footage
  • Explaining the basics and beyond of animating
  • Creating glows, patterns, textures, and more with effects
  • Color correcting footage
  • Working with text
  • Manipulating video playback speed
  • Masking objects and shape layers
  • Removing backgrounds with keying
  • Compositing multiple pieces of footage
  • Integrating After Effects with the rest of the Creative Suite
After Effects
Chad Perkins

Modifying shape layers

This is where shape layers start to get really fun. We're basically continuing where I left off in the last movie where I had this star. I got rid of that nasty blue stroke though and added this pretty little gradient in the inside. What we're going to do is make this look a little bit more flowery. Right now it's not blending in with the rest of this ensemble, so we're going to remedy that. Oh, by the way, if you click here with this object selected and then this will give you the Fill and the Stroke options and then we click in our Gradient Editor. And I'm just going to go ahead and hit OK.

But once you do that, you get this cool little Gradient Editor and we can click and drag here on these little icons here to change where the gradient happens in our shape, which is pretty cool. I'm kind of going with a standard gradient here, just a plain old, start from the center and go out to about the edge type thing. But feel free to play with this as much as you like. It's actually kind of a cool tool for playing with gradients. Now what I'm going to do is I'm going to come down here to my Timeline panel. Open up the shape layer. Then I'm going to open up Contents, and then this is where I see all of the shapes applied to the shape layer.

And you can actually have multiple shapes, and then I'm going to come over here and open up Polystar 1. And we could change a lot of the parameters about this star. So, initially, remember in last movie we used keyboard shortcuts, the up and down arrows, to add and delete points. Well, I can actually change that after the fact and even animate this right here in the Timeline panel, which is very cool. I'll take this back to 10. Just click in here and type 10. We can also change the Position, Rotation, Inner Radius and Outer Radius of the points of the star and here's something that we haven't played with yet: the Inner Roundness and the Outer Roundness of this star.

So, the Inner Roundness refers to the roundness of these points on the inside. So we could make those very round, and we don't have to stop at 100%. We could keep going. So, we can create some very interesting shapes here. Take this back to 100% - excuse me. I will take that to 0%, and then I could increase the Outer Roundness, which is the roundness around the tips, and now we have something that actually kind of resembles the star. And again, we could keep going if we wanted to until we had some crazy behemoth thing. I'm just going to actually take this back down to a more wieldy number.

Let's try 100% and see how that looks. That's looking pretty good. Keep a little bit of roundness on those edges, and if you wanted to, a little bit of Inner Roundness to taste. Up to you, looking pretty good there. Now I'm going to close up Polystar 1. The real magic of shape layers, folks, comes from this little Add flyout. You will find it at the top here with the shape layer selected. You will also find it here in the Timeline panel. We have a few things we could add. We could add additional Fills, additional Strokes. We could add additional shapes to this layer, but below this second line here, or the third line, are the Path Operators.

And this is where things start getting fine. Let's select Pucker & Bloat. And when we add Pucker & Bloat, it automatically adds some bloat to our shape. If we click away to deselect this, you could see some nice little tips here. You could open up Pucker & Bloat. It only has one value. We can click and drag this upwards, and we could even, again, take this beyond 100%. So this starts like freaking out on itself in very interesting geometric shapes. We can also take this to a negative value and make this a little bit more spiky, look at that.

And as you'll notice about the stopwatch here, that this property is an animatable. So, we can just have it being going back and forth like this, freaking out if we wanted to. A little too psychedelic for this Hansel & Petal ad but we could. I'm just going to select Pucker & Bloat in the Timeline and hit the Delete key on the keyboard. Go back to Add. See what other kind of trouble we can get into here. I'm going to come back to the Repeater. The Repeater is the real powerhouse of shape layers, but we have some other simple ones, like Round Corners, where we can just open this up and basically just increase the roundness of the corners.

And because we already have some curving on the Inner and Outer Roundness values of the polystar, we're not seeing too much here. But if you had a rectangle, that could help out. If we go to the Add flyout here, we also have Twist. So, we can create a nice little Twist here, and we can twist it clockwise, we go positive, or counterclockwise if we go negative. And we could also animate between the two, so if we wanted our little shape here to be dancing the hula or something, we can do that. I'll just select that and delete it.

There's also a couple of Wiggles here. There's Wiggle Paths and Wiggle Transform. So, if I selected Wiggle Transform-- and most of the times in Adobe language when you see the word Wiggle, it kind of means a little bit of random value changes. So, if we were to hit the Spacebar, actually let's go ahead and open this up a little bit so we can see this a little better, let's go ahead and open up Transform and maybe we'll increase Scale a little bit inside the Transform. It's important, with shape layers there are many different transforms. There's like a Transform here for the Polystar.

There is a Transform here underneath Wiggle Transform 1, and there's a Transform here which is the basic layer Transform. So, there's multiple Scales, multiple Rotations, multiple Positions, etcetera for the layer. So, we want the Transform properties that are within the Wiggle Transform operator. So, as I increase Scale to 40% and then now as we preview this, we could see that the Wiggle Transform is basically animating the randomness of this shape. So, we don't have to animate Scale.

If we say 40%, it's going to animate this between 0% and 40%. We could also rotate this a little bit, and we'll see that rotation will also be randomized as well, without having to have us set any keyframes whatsoever. Now that's Wiggle Transform. I am just going to select that and delete that. If you go back to the Add menu and go to Wiggle Paths, it'll actually wiggle the shape itself. So, we have like this weird like crinkly. I should just go ahead and play that. So weird kind of like it's in water or something like that.

It's a little bit too harsh though. So, I'm going to open up Wiggle Paths and we could adjust the Size. If we can increase that, it makes it even more crinkly. We could adjust the Detail. Increasing that again adds the static. If we change the Points from Corner to Smooth, it will smooth things out quite a bit. So if we took this down now, down its Size and the Detail, then we'd have again a little bit more of a smooth, like it was floating in water type look. And actually let me click outside of this layer to deselect the layer so we could see what that looks like. It's a very cool effect. Typically with wiggling effects, we don't have to keyframe things and so we adjust the speed by adjusting the Wiggles/Second value.

So, if we want it slow, we'll take it down. If we wanted more Wiggles/Second, something like really insane and chaotic then we could increase that value, and maybe we'll take this to Corner, increase the Size, increase the Detail, and then we have a really, again, a very spazy animation. Very cool. Now I'm going to delete Wiggle Paths, and let's talk about the real powerhouse here and that is the Repeater. The Repeater allows you to make multiple copies of a shape and play with those copies.

So, let's make a bunch of different copies here. We're only seeing three because they're being duplicated by default to the right. But we can offset these so that they move through the original shape. So, by default, the original shape is on the left-hand side. But again, Offset will make it so that that original shape moves along down the road and we're seeing multiple copies. Now open up Transform Repeater 1 and again make sure that's Transform Repeater 1 and not one of the other Transforms here. But if we take let's say Scale, I'm going to click and drag down on Scale, see what that's doing here? It's playing with the Scale of all of these shapes.

So, now shape layers are starting to look a little cooler. So, basically what's happening is is that it's going to the original shape and it is scaling down proportionately each little flower, each shape. And so like let's say we scale this up to 125% and then we could adjust offsets so that these flowers kind of go through like this. We have like a little arch almost. And if we wanted to, we could adjust the Anchor Point, which can give us this like almost three-dimensional effect, as these flowers kind of wrap around here.

We could adjust the Anchor Point vertically, look at that. So, we are almost like creating like a little whip of these flowers. Again, we could adjust the Rotation and because we tweaked the Anchor Point already, Rotation makes these move all over the place and we could adjust the opacity, the End Opacity let's say. So, now we're creating these interesting opacity effects as these flowers kind of go on top of each other. As we adjust the Offset, it's a very unique effect.

So, as you can see, there's a lot to play with here. We could even add multiple Repeaters to this. We continue to add other shapes and other repeaters to this same shape layer even, let alone what we could achieve with multiple shape layers. So, this is one of the reasons I really love shape layers, because like the possibilities are just insane. I mean you can sit here and play with shape layers for hours upon hours to see what you can come up with. And so I recommend doing that. Just sit around it. If you're into motion graphics, or into playing with shapes, you're in Adobe Illustrator, see what you can come up with by playing with these shape layers.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects CS5 Essential Training .

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Q: In the "Creating a fireball" movie in Chapter 6, the author showed how to make a fireball. Unfortunately, it all centered around a blob layer that he made without showing how to make a blob layer. How does one go about creating a blob layer like the one used in the video?
A: To create a blob layer, make a shape layer using the Pen tool. Animate the anchor points over time to make it move. These concepts are reviewed in depth in Chapter 4, "Learning to Animate."
Q: In the Chapter 5 video "Understanding precomposing," the exercise file provided does not seem to match up with the file the instructor uses. My file does not include a "Biker Body" layer. Is there an error in the exercise file?
A: Unfortunately, the exercise file originally distributed for this chapter was incorrect. A new file was issued in February 2011. If you downloaded the exercise files prior to then, you can download the corrected file on the Exercise Files tab of the course page.
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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